Category Archives: Articles

Home, Sweet Home

An article by Revd Will Gibbs for the Redbourn Common Round

When I was little, I can remember my Dad saying on more than one occasion, ‘What’s the point in going off around the world when there are so many amazing places we haven’t seen in this country?’ It might have been prompted by the fact that he was 6 foot 4 and flying in an aeroplane was never going to be a very pleasurable experience for him. Or it might be that with four of us children, going abroad was always going to be quite an expensive exercise for the whole family. Or it might just have been a reflection on his genuine love of this country and its beautiful countryside, history and places.

Whatever the reason, and it may well have been a combination of all of the above, I have many happy memories of holidays in my childhood spent in Cornwall, Devon, Pembrokeshire, on various canals and campsites and some pretty remote parts of Scotland. We always had a good time – despite the vagaries of British weather – and Dad was right; there are some lovely places to visit and see right under our noses.

It meant that the first time I ever went abroad was for a French exchange to Granville in Normandy in Year 7 (as it’s known in new money, but it was always known to me as the First form!). I was 12 years old and I thought it was amazing – I loved the huge ferry, the fun with classmates on the trip with me, the new food to try and even the language. It opened my eyes and since then, I’ve been making up for lost time, travelling as much as I can and enjoying some amazing parts of the world which I’ve been so fortunate to visit.

Well, we won’t be going anywhere overseas this year. We had booked a trip to Lanzarote for two weeks but after several days (quite literally) in a telephone queue we managed to transfer the booking to August 2021. So long did we wait to get through that we’d used all the free calls allowance for the month, and then some, by the 3rd day of the month and then we had BT on our backs. That trip to the Canaries will feel extra special when we do eventually get to go.

So, for this year we will stay at home. Not perhaps always at home but a day trip here and there, and perhaps a few nights staying somewhere not too far away so we really can switch off and get away from emails and the telephone. In the past we might have been disappointed with this option but not this year. It feels like the right thing to do, and not just because the modern portmanteau words of ‘stay-cation’ and ‘holi-stay’ try and jolly us along about this.

There has been much about the pandemic that has caused us to grieve. There has been the conventional grief of death with a staggering death toll that still rises each day even if, in relative terms, we have been blessed to have been spared the worst of infections and fatalities in our community. We perhaps have had to grieve for our routines and activities and for some, our jobs, savings and livelihoods. For some, the grief has been for special plans that were in place for birthdays, weddings or christenings that have had be put on hold. And we grieve for our sense of freedom – the chance to go where we want, when we want and to meet up with who we want.

But alongside these things, I won’t grieve for my foreign holiday this year. I’ll miss it and I will worry for the many people whose jobs are dependent on travel and hospitality, at home as well as overseas. But I won’t sulk or feel sorry for myself.

I can console myself with lots of positives. If we like our day trips and minibreak then we can go there again so much more easily. And it won’t have cost the earth to get there – financially and environmentally. We can carry on enjoying the sounds and sights of nature that have been so vivid and special this year and that remind us of the huge blessings we enjoy day by day in our lives in this country.

And then there’s coming home. There’s always that lovely moment when you’ve been away – wherever you’ve been – when you pull up on the drive, go through the front door and all the familiar possessions and homeliness come flooding back. We’ve spent a lot of time in our homes lately and that’s not a bad thing really. It challenges our habits of constant movement – from our car-centric lives to our distractibility – which inevitably and regrettably shape our souls. We feel that the restrictions on travel have somehow inhibited us and harmed our freedom – what one writer calls the obsession with space over place.

Instead, if we stay closer to home, and more rooted we might just see and hear and feel the things that we were looking for all along. Because of what is called the incarnation, of God coming into this world in the person of Jesus, we know God in the particular rather than in the abstract. And God still makes himself known to us today through the material and relational: through the natural world when we’re stunned by a red kite soaring overhead or the pathway of a passing snail, when a line of poetry strikes us or a verse leaps from the page.

Whatever you’re doing this summer, and wherever you’re spending it, we can know that we have a home with God and that God is always near, wherever we are.


Will’s Thought for the Week

Each week Will gives a short ‘thought for the week’ as part of the Redbourn Community Call.   This telephone call is a fantastic lockdown initiative run by Active in Redbourn for members of the community, offering entertainment, a chance to find out what is going on in Redbourn and the opportunity to chat during these difficult times.

The call is free to dial in every Wednesday at 11.00am and lasts 30 minutes.    Call 0800 022 9009  Pin 726747

Here are Will’s thoughts for the week from recent calls:

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 2nd December

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 25th November

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 18th November

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 4th November

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 21st October

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 14th October

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 7th October

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 22nd September

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 16th September

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 9th September

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 2nd September

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 26th August

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 19th August

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 12th August

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 5th August

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 29th July

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 15th July

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 8th July

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 1st July

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 24th June

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 17th June

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 10th June

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 3rd June

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 27th May

Thought for the Week: Wednesday 20th May

Helping us to help you

A letter from Revd Will Gibbs

During this time of the Coronavirus pandemic, church has had to be a little different, but it hasn’t stopped. We’ve moved online for service broadcasts and our fellowship has been through telephone conversations, emails and lovely chats from a distance when we’ve bumped into friends on our daily walk. Alongside these things, I’ve been sending occasional letters, printed service booklets and bible studies to members of St Mary’s without access to the internet. We’ve been working hard to ensure that in the worrying times we’re experiencing, we can still pray together and worship together even if we can’t be together.

At the same time, the churchyard is continuing to be maintained beautifully and flowers are being arranged in the niches at the church door each week. Thank you to everyone who is working so hard through this period in various parts of the life of our church with music, readings, prayers, administration and keeping on top of the church accounts.

It is on this last matter that I want to now turn. We are fortunate at St Mary’s to enjoy strong support for our church and, with this, strong financial support also. Many people give their stewardship by regular standing order and this has been vital in order to keep the church afloat financially. But we are missing over £1000 a month from lettings income from the Transept, and other income from donations and loose plate collections. It varies a bit from month to month but typically we’re losing somewhere between £3,000 and £4,000 a month during the lockdown. That means that if this continues, and it looks like this situation isn’t going to change anytime soon, then we are going to have used up all the money in our account.

We’ve obviously done everything we can to reduce our costs, we’ve turned the heating right down in church and in the Transept and one member of staff has been furloughed but the fact is that whilst our income has dropped, many of our costs haven’t gone down very much. We still need a Vicar (I hope!), we have higher costs for phone calls and we still need to insure our buildings.

So, can you help?

There are three ways that could make a real difference to us at this time:

  1. Make a one-off donation through our online giving page to help cover the costs of our ministry. This can be Gift Aided to make your kind support go even further.
  2. Make a donation by cheque, payable to ‘PCC St Mary’s, Redbourn’ and send it in, (and even better if you can Gift Aid it for us too). Click to download and print a gift aid form
  3. Set up or change your regular donation to St Mary’s.  You can download the two separate forms you need to do this here and here, or contact Jim May by e-mail or on 01582 794676 with any questions.

I realise that some people are facing financial hardship through the Coronavirus pandemic but if you can help in one of these three ways, then that would be amazing.

Thank you, and please be assured of my prayers for you as you kindly pray for me also.

We long for the time when we can be back in church and back together. It will be so special and emotional but, in the meantime, please stay safe and well and do get in touch if I can help and support you with anything.

Yours, in Christ


The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary Redbourn is registered with the Charity Commission: 1130677