Friday was the Women’s World Day of Prayer. The service was developed by the women of Chile - the WWDP use a different country each year. The service, led by Tricia and Carolyn from our Church, was well attended although there were only two other males! Carolyn had asked women from local Churches to read the stories from the Chilean women and although sitting in the comfort and security of a Gt Missenden church Chile seemed very remote, some of their difficulties came through. The theme of the service ‘How many loaves have you?’ is based on the women sharing of bread amongst their friends and bread is eaten at every meal and is very much part of every day life.
The local service was held in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Great Missenden. This is the second service recently that I’ve attended here - we held our midnight service on Christmas eve there because of the snow. While the modern building is very different from traditional Churches, I find it quite inspirational. The interior is very simple with plain brick walls pierced by wall-to-ceiling rectangular windows. The Altar is at the West end which, I think, is unusual. Apparetly (if you believe the information on the web) the east-facing altars were an early Catholic tradition because Jesus’s second coming was expected in the east. However, the flat ceiling rising towards the altar provides a focus for the interior of the building.
The painting of the crucifixion over the altar (shown above with Chilean flags) is by local artist Paul Stevenson. I had found his work a few years ago when I was talking at an Age Concern coffee morning trying to persuade them that the web had lots of fascinating and interesting info. When I first saw the crucifixion, I thought it might be by Stevenson and I was able to confirm this on Friday. Paul sadly died recently but some of his work is on display on the Storm Fine Arts web site here. There’s a short note by the artist himself on the web site of the local Great Missenden art gallery One Church Street.
Interestingly one of the paintings on the Storm Fine art web site is of Llawhaden Castle which I visited many times from home in Tenby. It is one of the castles in the line that separates little England from the rest of Wales which explains why I don’t speak Welsh! Originally built as a fortified palace for the Bishop of St David’s - rather different from current Bishops’ homes!
Lent starts next week. I’m going to try to follow the Love Life Live Lent booklet which has suggested activities for each week. Inspired by the visit to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I’ll also try to visit as many Churches during Lent: I won’t manage to get to many services because of duties at Great Missenden and Little Hampden but I’ll try to report on their design and the spiritual feeling they bring. The Bucks Historic Churches trust's book Bucks’ Favourite Churches is a starter.