Monday, June 6, 2022 - 21:48

Preparing for holidays, preparing for exam results, preparing for test results, preparing for the next season in life.

July is a time to rest, reflect, replenish to give us time out of the regular stuff and walk into the space of relaxation. Yet it can also be a daunting time too as we wait in preparation.

I was talking with a young person I have known since she was 11, now awaiting her exam results. She said sitting the exams is ok, it’s waiting for the results that’s stressful.

I remember being away for my results so I got my best friend to open the letter for me and tell me over the phone. I was nervous as hell and so glad when it was all over.

Waiting is hard and we are not so used to it. I suppose that’s why we need rest, replenishing and relaxation.

Jesus said: “Come to me all who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest”; Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, said: “I am not ashamed to say I lean into Jesus.” This is where a greater peace and rest comes from because love knows we need it.

When we face trials and difficulties and testing times, which we all do, we have a God who knows, who cares and who longs to bring us rest, true rest, deep rest.

God bless you; God keep you and make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 - 18:04

As I write this month’s article, two big things lie ahead of me: the first is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend and the second is my ordination as priest.

For both events, there is a lot of preparation: I need to prepare for services, celebratory events and fun activities.

Other people have things to prepare. The local Jubilee events are being organised by a number of different people. In terms of my ordination, there are people preparing the service, the retreat, the paperwork, and my father-in-law is preparing a sermon for the service at which I will preside for the first time. There is a lot to prepare for in June!

But what I really started to reflect on as June loomed ever larger on the calendar was the theme of service and duty.

The Platinum Jubilee celebrates a landmark in royal service and duty. It is a chance for us to celebrate and to give thanks for the long service of our Queen to her nation and the Commonwealth.

I’m sure there has been much for her to enjoy about her reign. However, there has been a lot for the Queen to handle that will have been difficult, hard work.

She has been called upon to occupy her role as Queen. She didn’t choose to be the monarch; she was chosen. I am reminded of the words from John’s gospel: “You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15: 16).

Similarly, I believe I was called to the role that I occupy and the one to which I will soon be ordained.

Of course, I chose to answer that call, but the question had a “yes” or “no” answer rather than a more open-ended “what do you want to be”.

There will be a lot of joy to be found, but there will be service and duty, too. Sometimes, the joy will be found in that service and duty. Sometimes that service and duty will be harder.

But each of us has some kind of duty in our lives: to family, to friends, to neighbours, to our jobs. And each of us needs to serve others in some way. It is all part of living in community.

So as we celebrate this month, let’s also think about how we serve one another and what duties we have to one another in order to make the most of these communities that we so value.

Richard Turk, Assistant Curate, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - 08:58

I wrote this prose in 2018 for a concert after hearing vivid stories of the cost of war. I offer it as a reflection as we watch real-time war and ask for your thoughts and prayers for Ukraine and other areas of our world at war:

“Peace is more than a word; it is an action, it is active, we have to do it. How we continue to practice this art is peace.

“We begin with ourselves, what inner conflicts are battling for our attention, do we hate part of ourselves, is there resentment? Our inner thoughts of unrest, unease and discord stop us from practising the art of peace within.

“Some have found that this inner peace can come from forgiveness of self, others and nations. Some practice meditation and mindfulness. Some find peace from sport, music, art and nature. Others find peace from faith and relationship to the prince of peace. Some combine all these to pursue peace.

“Peace within is so important as it is the beginning of peace without. Once we gain understanding of our own need for peace then we can give it out into the world.

“Peace is not just a word; it is an action.

“We live in a world vying for power and dominance. This is not a peaceful action; this is aggressive and abusive. So we have a choice for our community and for our world to practice the art of peace.

“When we feel anguish or nervous, we turn to those things that give us peace within. We turn to each other for help; peace is worth pursuing because, as we have heard, any war, even war within ourselves, is worth challenging and working out.

“Conflict is inevitable; it is how we respond that is important. If we really guard ourselves and practice the art of peace, then we are as ready as possible.

“Peace is not just a word; it is an action.

“For our ancestors who have given us peace, let us work as hard as possible for peace within so that there is also the opportunity for peace without.”

Prayers for our world right now.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 15:26

As I write this, I’m coming to the end of 10 days of Covid isolation. To start with, I was frustrated that my placement at a school was going to be disrupted and rearranged.

I did, however, try to think positively about the fact that I would have plenty of time to read. But then I started thinking about how I was being forced to give up on certain things.

We are, of course, entering the season of Lent, when each year people tend to give something up. It made me think about the difference between choosing to give something up and having to give something up.

I had to give up contact with people. Fortunately, technology meant I could have remote contact. But I discovered that what affected me most was not being able to interact with people in the way I normally would.

Yes, there was the social side of things that I missed: coffee in the local shop on my day off, bellringing with friends, chatting with people on the school run. But I missed being “at work”.

For much of the time, because I wasn’t actually unwell with the virus, I was still working; I was just working from home. But I wasn’t doing all the parts of my role that I normally would.

It wasn’t until I started preparing a sermon for my first Sunday back after isolation that I realised what had been missing and what had been bothering me. It was service.

I had been reflecting on the Queen’s life of service and how Christians live lives of service. That’s when I realised that while I had been working from home and may have been completing tasks, I didn’t feel that I had really been serving.

I wasn’t serving my family, as I was shut away. I wasn’t serving the community or the Church. The tasks I was completing weren’t leaving me fulfilled because I didn’t feel as if I was serving anyone.

In recent years, I’ve noticed that many people take up something new rather than give something up during Lent. Perhaps this is a good thing, and you can see our benefice website for details of groups and activities that might help you think of something to take up (although I think the idea of giving something up shouldn’t be dismissed too quickly).

Maybe this year the thing to do is give something up but also commit to some kind of ongoing service. It doesn’t matter how small that act of service is, because every act of service to another has the potential to make the world a better place.

Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40).

Acts of service are at the heart of a life focused on loving one’s neighbour and, no matter what your faith, our society can always do with more of that.

Revd Richard Turk, Assistant Curate, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Monday, January 10, 2022 - 15:12

Sometimes I just want to scream. Things are out of sorts, and it doesn’t feel right.

Right angry is important because it gives us passion to stand up and speak truth to power giving voice to the voiceless.

I am angry because I see superyachts moored off the Caribbean for partying and there are refugees dying crossing the sea in rubber dinghies.

I am angry that I see our beautiful natural world being destroyed for more stuff for us.

I am angry that some people own lots of houses while others are homeless.

I am angry that we are still not sharing vaccinations worldwide and so we will have more coronavirus variants to come.

I am angry that there are people hungry and there is huge food waste.

I am angry that knife crime is rising in lots of communities, conflict resolution and resourcing for our young people is poor as budgets have been cut.

I am angry that our NHS is overwhelmed again – all who work there are so stressed and it is expected that they will battle through.

I am angry that money is our dominant worry and not people, planet and place.

I am angry that we haven’t taken the lessons learnt in our first lockdown that made us wonder, pause, reflect and renew.

I am angry that COP26 didn’t have the deep impact needed for leaders to change policy more quickly.

I am angry about educational disruption and what lasting impact that will have for our children.

I am angry that in our world not everyone has access to education.

So I look up, I make changes in my behaviour, I write letters, I lobby and above all I pray.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches
Tel: 01603 871263 or 879275
www.reepham-and-wensum-valley-team-churches.org.uk

Monday, December 6, 2021 - 16:40

In recent years I’ve heard people talking about the January blues. The idea is that, after the build-up and excitement of Christmas, January is a bit of a let-down.

People feel deflated, perhaps even depressed. With the amount of money that can be spent over the Christmas period, financial difficulties might make January “bluer”.

And after the amount of food some of us will probably have eaten, January is often the time when we start thinking about the effort it will take to get back into whatever shape we used to, or wanted to, be.

Part way through January, the good intentions of our New Year’s resolutions might already be a memory.

But so far, I haven’t really experienced this – January has seemed hopeful; January had things to look forward to.

For many years, January was the month when I and a large number of other bellringers had our annual meal – a good excuse to dress up and have a nice evening with friends, having done some good ringing earlier in the day.

For a few years, January also saw a bellringing outing to London, which was always a highlight of the calendar.

I look forward to February each year, as it sees a holiday in Pembrokeshire – January is that time when I can get ready for this, almost like the countdown to Christmas all over again.

And since the Church marks its new year at the beginning of Advent, I’ve usually broken my resolutions before we reach the New Year on 1 January, so I don’t have the pressure of sticking to them throughout January.

But I do realise that January can be a dark, cold and perhaps lean month. It isn’t always easy.

I can only say that I will be trying to combat those January blues by making sure I have things to look forward to, perhaps things during the month or perhaps things in February that I can count down to.

If, like me, you need a replacement resolution early in January when your first one hasn’t worked out, perhaps we could do worse than to resolve to give ourselves little things to look forward to: coffee and/or a walk with friends; a trip somewhere you don’t normally go; some time spent on a hobby that you haven’t had much time for recently.

Whatever you do to make you smile in January, I wish you a very happy New Year.

Revd Richard Turk, Assistant Curate, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 08:48

This time last year we were at the start of “Lockdown 2” – it lasted for the whole of November and the hope was that by shutting most things down then, December – and Christmas – might be saved.

We all know what happened: the Tier system was introduced, Norfolk was placed in Tier 4 and we effectively went back into lockdown straight after Boxing Day, which meant that for many of us Christmas was, if not “cancelled”, certainly curtailed.

Now in 2021 we were, as early as August, being warned that due to HGV driver shortages and delays in ports at China, Christmas was once again under threat, as well as the ongoing threat of Covid-19 rearing its head once again this winter.

Of course, many of us roll our eyes at the media and/or politicians when they dramatically pronounce that Christmas is under threat.

In truth, Christmas as a Christian festival, a season of celebration of God, in the person of Jesus, coming to Earth to live a human mortal life, has been under sustained threat for decades.

We all see every year the ever-increasing incursion of the commercial world into this Christian festival.

To an extent, we embrace and enjoy it. I love a Father Christmas/snow scene/robin, etc., as much as the next person.

All of those things are pretty and have a commercial value that never seems to come anywhere close to being exhausted.

It is all of these commercial trappings that have clung so limpet-like to Christmas that are vulnerable to supply-chain issues.

The 12-day festival of Christmas cannot be cancelled because the calendar and time cannot be stopped or cancelled.

25 December to 5 January is coming and Christians will celebrate/remember this great festival of Christmas, even if there are no single-use plastic toys imported en masse from Asia, if there are no snow scenes, no cards, no turkeys, no decorations/crackers/whatever.

For Christians, God in the person of Jesus came and lived and died and rose again because he loved us and still does – whatever might or might not get cancelled this year.

This great and beautiful festival is drowning in the commercial trappings and expectations that can never be fulfilled.

I would never want to see a completely commercial-free Christmas; I enjoy it too much.

But we do not seem to know when to stop with the preparations/celebrations, which means we often miss those in our communities for whom this season is a difficult and painful time.

We don’t want their pain to encroach on our festivities. We want a happy ending as portrayed in every Christmas movie and their pain rudely interrupts this.

We forget that the real Christmas story involves a hostile dictatorship/occupation, a puppet king who embarks upon a massacre of children. It is about a homeless family (Jesus’) with no welfare state.

Please, then, do enjoy a happy Christmas and do celebrate, but also remember those less fortunate who cannot celebrate for so many reasons.

Click HERE for a listing of Christmas and other church services in December.

Revd. Keith Rengert, Team Vicar, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Monday, October 18, 2021 - 20:20

The beauty of autumn is all around us in the changing colours of the leaves and the skies.

It is a time of remembering, recalling our memories of places we have known and people we dearly miss and see no longer.

The season of autumn draws into the falling of leaves that enable squirrels to bury their nuts and provisions for the winter.

It reminds us that as creatures hibernate, we too need more rest as we spend a longer time indoors and in the darkness with the changing hours of the clock.

This season in the church is called the Kingdom Season.

First, we are reminded that we are All Saints (October this year) and then, for those who dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven, All Souls.

We hold in memory services that are very important this year as we hope to be in person in our churches.

Then we are invited to recall and honour people at our Remembrance Services, with poppies holding a deep significance for us.

Then we remember Christ the King, Jesus as the sovereign of God’s Kingdom, a great finale of the church year before we begin the New Year starting with Advent (28 November this year).

There are lots of opportunities across the Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches to join in with the remembering and honouring.

We also have Advent groups starting throughout November, focusing on different aspects of prayer and connection to God, utilising ancient and new resources, including silence and mindfulness.

Please see our website for more details.

Revd. Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 12:59

WOW stands for Wonder on Wednesdays.

It’s a chance to pause midweek to look at our “wow” moments and to think of others across the world who need our care and attention in times that have made us stop and gaze thoughtfully.

Have you ever wondered about prayer and what it is? Why is it in our instinct? What ways do we or can we prayer? Does God care when we prayer? Does God really listen?

Do situations really change when we pray? What happens when our prayers are not answered in the way we hoped? (Yes, that happens too.)

Join us if you like to ask questions every Wednesday via Zoom, 7–8 pm. For joining information, telephone 01603 871263 or email

We had a great WOW social in September, sharing food, chatter and a few wow moments, such as seeing Jupiter, winning crazy golf, getting a hole in one, watching the sunrise and sunset.

These are held on the second Thursday of each month from 7–8.30 pm in St Michael's Reepham. The next is on 14 October.

Revd Helen Rengert
Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

www.reepham-and-wensum-valley-team-churches.org.uk

Thursday, August 12, 2021 - 08:52

This is the time of year for transitions. At school, children are transitioning from one year group to another, perhaps even from one school to another.

Some young people will be transitioning from school to further education or the world of work.

For those with children, or who work in education, this is the time when we transition from term to holiday to term again and adjust to people being around at different times of the day and the routine altering.

Even outside the world of education some things seem to revolve around the transitioning times of school terms.

As a family we have just undergone a big transition: I have made the transition from training to ordained ministry; the children have moved schools; we have all moved house and that means a different commute for my wife.

Transition can happen at any time to any of us. It happens when we make a change in our lives or when a change is made for us. It happens when we lose someone close to us and when we gain someone close to us.

There is plenty of transition to be found in the Bible, too. Abram undergoes a transition when he becomes Abraham; David makes the transition from shepherd boy to king; Jesus’ disciples make the transition from their old lives of fishing, or the like, to one where they follow Jesus.

Transition is a natural part of our lives and, while it can sometimes be painful or at other times joyful, it is something we have to live with.

But we don’t have to cope with transitions alone. God is with us in our transitions as a constant that never changes. When we need a rock in the sea of change, God is that rock.

Join us at the weekly WOW to find out more.

Revd. Richard Turk, Assistant Curate, Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches

  • WOW (Wonder on Wednesdays), Wednesdays, 7–8 pm on Zoom, learning more about prayer with discussion and wondering together. For joining information, telephone 01603 871263 or email

 

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