Every year marks an anniversary of one sort or another. In recent years we have commemorated anniversaries related to both World Wars, the Queen’s diamond jubilee, the signing of the Magna Carta and the foundation of the Women’s Institute. This year its 950 years since the Battle of Hastings, 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, 350 years since the Great Fire of London, and 50 years since England won the World Cup. And of course, the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday. We mark these events in all kinds of ways: some are to be celebrated whilst others are more of a time for reflection and sorrow. The events I‘ve mentioned as example are all public occasions but in our personal lives we mark other events too. We enjoy parties for birthdays and wedding anniversaries but we all have dates written on our hearts that are intensely personal and perhaps make us feel sad. It might be a date that something tragic happened, or someone we loved died. Often it’s remembering the date of an anniversary or birthday of a loved one that makes us feel most sad.
At St Mary’s church in Gamlingay we have installed floodlights to light up the outside of the building at certain times and people can sponsor the floodlights to be lit at a special time for them. Already some people in the village have asked for the floodlights to be lit to commemorate a special date for a loved one. We also have a commemorative book where people can write a message to mark the occasion.
On the 11th June we will re-light the beacon that we previously lit on the occasion of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations. Do please come along to the church from about 7.30pm to see the beacon lit on top of the tower and join in the celebrations.
At Everton we are celebrating another significant anniversary there. It is 300 years since the birth of John Berridge. He was a former vicar at Everton but was known as the Gospel Pedlar as his ministry was not really confined to one village; he travelled around Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire proclaiming the ‘good news’. He was an enigmatic figure who drew large crowds. He once got into trouble from the Bishop who reprimanded him for preaching too much. Berridge is reported to have replied, "My lord," I preach only at two seasons. In season and out of season, my lord." Berridge wrote hundreds of hymns and we hope to be singing some of them at a special service on Sunday 3rd July at 4pm in church at Everton.
Whatever anniversaries you may be celebrating this month, and whether you will mark the occasion with a party, or with a quiet meal with a loved one, or with a time of reflection on your own, I hope you will know God’s blessing for this present time and in the years to come.
Revd Steven Rothwell