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

 

Monday, July 12, 2021 - 20:38

Holiday season is approaching; there are lots of reasons why this is all the more necessary.

Many of our hard-working National Health Service staff will be having annual leave at last.

After 73 years since the founding of the NHS, the country’s largest employer by far, Her Majesty The Queen has awarded all staff past and present with the George Cross.

My mum texted and asked if we get this? I said in kind only.

Can you imagine the number of Crosses that would need to be made for all staff past and present because that would include both myself and her and so many others?

I told my mum that we could add it after our names (though I’m not sure if that’s allowed).

To be honoured is so important; it boosts morale, and we all need that as well as a holiday.

This year most of us will not be jetting off and that will be great for the environment.

We have decided to not fly as much as possible, but to go by train or bus or even our old (but new to us) motorhome.

Having a holiday is vital for us to recover, rest and refresh all that we need to do – and this year more so.

We don’t know what winter will bring so we must be as rested as possible, and God bless our NHS staff and all the key workers who have worked tirelessly for us.

I pray for their holidays and time out. We honour you.

Happy holidays.

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

Saturday, February 6, 2021 - 12:03

I am reminded as I write this article about the importance of love (we are just a week or so away from St Valentine’s Day): how does love show up in our lives?

Today I was reading from a famous bible reading – 1 Corinthians 13 – often used at weddings; I also find the words beautiful at funerals too.

Love is patient. That means how patient am I (not my best trait – if you ever see me in a queue, I am itching to get the front). Love is about not barging in; it’s about waiting.

Sometimes we may want to say something: perhaps it’s not so loving, it could be a nasty remark.

Before that comes out of our mouths, we need to have that patient, waiting attitude and the words then hopefully will be nicer and more thought through (emails can be notorious for this).

Love is kind. Being kind is something I try to do as much as possible. Kindness also takes a lot of practice.

When we are angered, it is difficult to be kind. Back in 2019, #bekind was trending because we had lost our way in the media (we still have lost our way: there are cruel social media posts out there).

Kindness is all about love. Love does not envy (I need to practise this too).

Love does not boast (look at me, how great am I... NOT).

Love is not self-seeking (it thinks of others before itself).

Love is not easily angered (but get angry if needed, if it’s right anger when we protest against cruelty, climate change, etc.).

Love keeps no record of wrongs (again, practising this one too, how easy is it to bring up a past hurt in an argument?).

Love rejoices in the truth, not delighting in evil (the truth will out).

Love always protects, love always trusts, love always hopes and love always perseveres.

We may only have one word in English for love, yet here is a great way of acting in love for ourselves, our community and our world.

It means we all have some work to do (I can see my to-do list as I write).

I have seen much of this love in all our key workers over 2020/21 – those bold words really sum up what we have witnessed from them.

May March bring hope alive in us again and as we carry on, may our love grow richer and fuller.

Revd. Helen Rengert
Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches
Chaplain Reepham Sixth Form College
Young Vocations Champion and Vocations Adviser, Diocese of Norwich

Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 08:26

Many people have remarked that the prolonged lockdown is damaging to people’s mental health.

It is good sometimes to ask questions of ourselves: Do I feel lonely? Does life seem to have no purpose? Do I feel excluded from the happy bustle that most people seem to enjoy?

People with all kinds of mental illness or anguish are usually advised to seek a counsellor.

The natural world and gardening are now seen as good medicines for mind as well as body, but it is seldom realised that the church, too, has much to offer in this field.

The church can provide the friendship and relationship for which so many seek, not only within the fellowship of the local church, but in the friendship that Christ himself offers us. He is the unseen presence and constant pillar of support for all his followers whom he calls his friends.

The church teaches us that our purpose is to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Here we have a never-ending reason not only to live, but to live life to the full.

For the many people who suffer handicaps or disadvantages in life, the church at her best offers support, comfort and encouragement – the spiritual blessings that we all need.

The church is there for all, including those who suffer abuse, whether physical, mental or spiritual, or who regard themselves as failures or misfits in our over-competitive society.

Such victims may experience a welcome, understanding and support from the church, which can be a rock for the oppressed and marginalised in our society. This also goes for the many who experience breakdown in their relationships.

We are all broken to a lesser or greater degree, and so need the invaluable ongoing support that Christ offers in and through his church, which can be a second family: “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.”

What about depression? Surely our church with her gospel of joy and risen life is the perfect antidote to all such destructive feelings.

Part of this is the realisation that Jesus himself suffered depression even on the cross itself: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Bereavement is another cause of mental distress, when we suffer the death of a close relative or friend.

The death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus led to the shortest sentence in the New Testament: “Jesus wept.”

What better support could we be given than faith in Jesus, who wept for his friend and suffered an agonising death, but through his victory overcame death and opened the kingdom of God to all.

Christians have so much in their first-aid kit including prayer; God himself is the best listening ear.

Also in the church’s kit are the sacraments, which provide strength, comfort and reassurance. The need of mental health is a God-given opportunity for the church to offer what so many now seek.

Of course, there are many obstacles, including a general distrust of all things “religious” and sinful failures in ministry, so widely reported.

But it may well be that one of the best provisions for mental illness is to come to church, or in times of lockdown to join in church life via telephone, email and zoom.

The Rt Rev Tony Foottit, retired Bishop of Lynn

Monday, December 7, 2020 - 18:03

I am writing this on the coldest day of the year so far: the temperature hasn’t risen above freezing and we saw the sun for the briefest of times.

2021 is almost here and, boy, do we need a New Year. The whole world needs a reboot, a fresh start, new ways of living that bears everyone in mind.

For some, next year is going to be tougher because of job losses, recession, Brexit and so much more.

So where do we gain our hope from this New Year?

I have great optimism because I saw something awesome in 2020 – the care and attention and kindness that flowed out from most people. (I also saw some people who tried to get as much for themselves from the system, which wasn’t so good and kind.)

We celebrated the small things more; we noticed the great beauty in our nature and world.

Kindness and good come from the source of whom we have been created by, to be people who look out for each other and care.

Jesus said “Do to others as you would have them do to you” or as some people say “Do as you would be done by”. Many people live this way.

Most people say “I am not religious” and yet live great lives of kindness. It’s in our DNA. We are doing it because we are a community.

There is an opportunity to reflect and debate more of the sayings of Jesus through the Alpha Course starting on Wednesday 13 January on zoom, registration via email to Annie Dack.

I would like to think that following Jesus is more about being kind and good: how we behave in the world, how we care for the world and how we show appreciation to each other, rather than knowing stuff and not acting on it.

It is far more about our spirit and living with a sense of real compassion.

Please let us know if 2021 is a real struggle. We have access to community funds that may go a little way to helping.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Vicar
Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches
The Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham NR10 4JJ
Tel: 01603 871263. Email

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