News from the Vicarage - May 2017
- Published on Monday, 01 May 2017 00:00
1st May: May Day - unbridled merriment
May is the month when the ancient pagans used to get up to 'all sorts'! The Romans held their festival to honour the mother-goddess Maia, goddess of nature and growth. (May is named after her.) The early Celts celebrated-the feast of Beltane, in honour of the sun god, Beli. For centuries in Olde England' the people went mad in May.
After the hardship of winter, and hunger of early Spring May was a time of indulgence and unbridled merriment. Henry VII went 'maying' on many occasions. Then folk would stay out all night in the dark rain-warm thickets, and return in the morning for dancing on the green around the May pole, archery, vaulting, wrestling, and that evening, bonfires. The Protestant reformers took a strong stand against May Day - and in 1644 May Day was abolished altogether. Many May poles came down - only to go up again at the Restoration, when the first May Day of King Charles's reign was "the happiest Mayday that hath been many a year in England", according to Pepys. May Day to most people today brings vague folk memories of a young Queen of the May decorated with garlands and streamers and flowers, a May Pole to weave, Morris dancing, and the intricacies of well dressing at Tissington in Derbyshire. May Day is a medley of natural themes such as sunrise, the advent of summer, growth in nature. In modern times, May Day has become Labour Day, which honours the dignity of workers. And until recently, in communist countries May Day processions were in honour of the achievement of Marxism. There has never been a Christian content to May Day, but nevertheless there is the well-known 6am service on the top of Magdalen Tower at Oxford where a choir sings in the dawn of May Day.
1st May: S. Philip, the apostle with common sense. Is there someone in church whom you respect for their spirituality and common sense combined - someone you feel easy about approaching to ask questions? That person's patron saint should be Philip.
1st May: James the Less - quiet son of Alphaeus. One thing for sure: the apostles were not self-obsessed. In fact, many a church historian has wished that they had left us just a few more personal details about themselves in the New Testament. James the Less is an excellent example.
15th May: S. Matthias - the replacement apostle. If you're saying to yourself, 'Who?' you'll be in good company. May 15th is the feast day of St Matthias the Apostle and in describing him thus we have said just about all there is to know about him. He gets just one mention in the Bible, in the first chapter of Acts, immediately prior to the day of Pentecost, where it tells us that he was elected to take the place in the ranks of the twelve apostles recently vacated by the betrayer Judas Iscariot.
25th May: Ascension Day - 40 days after Easter comes Ascension Day. These are the 40 days during which the Risen Christ appeared again and again to His disciples following His death and resurrection.
The Gospels give us little of Christ's teachings and deeds during those 40 days. Jesus was seen by numerous of his disciples: on the road to Emmaus, by the Sea of Galilee, in houses, etc. He strengthened and encouraged His disciples, and at last opened their eyes to all that the Scriptures had promised about the Messiah. Jesus also told them that as the Father had sent Him, He was now going to send them - to all corners of the earth, as His witnesses. My prayers and best wishes.
My Prayers and best wishes,
Fr. Philip Edge - Vicar