The Lay Reader's Letter (written by Gordon Gray) extends the tradition of the Vicar's Letter which has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Lay Reader's Letter

August/September 2009

At the time of writing, it is just two days since Carnival so you must forgive me if this article has a Carnival focus.

An event that was a church fete until the 1980s has grown to become today, not just one of the biggest events of its kind locally, but one of the biggest one day events of its kind anywhere in the country. Thousands of people came out on 4 July to share in a very special event; one where there was no aggravation, no trouble, no violence or greed. Instead, this community, the place where you and I live, put on a show which, as an elderly visitor from Hartlepool said to me, was the best he had ever seen in his life, anywhere.

Now it does need a very strong organising committee to lay the foundations of such an event and huge thanks must go to all of them, but the important thing is that the rest of the community of our villages has picked up and run with the framework that has been created. It is simply fantastic that so many families go to the trouble of putting out the bunting and balloons and that so many organisations make the effort to dress a float or run a stall - visitors to the event are amazed.

I hesitate to estimate the number of people it takes to run the event - simply to organise it and run the church stalls needs several hundred people, of all ages; and then there are our advertisers, sponsors, those who have donated goods, prizes and time. To everyone of you my heartfelt thanks. Perhaps more important are, the thanks of all the children growing up here - even some of the grumpy teenage boys could recognise how lucky they are to be growing up in a community like ours.

But I'm supposed to include a religious element in this article - so some of you may wish to stop reading now. What lessons have I learnt preparing for and helping to run this year's Carnival? Well, the first lesson is to trust - not just other people, though this is essential because the event has become too big for any one person to know everything that is going on, so people have to be trusted to do what they say they will do; but also to trust in God. If you have never experienced the power of prayer then whatever I say will not convince you, but in the week leading up to the Carnival all my prayers were answered - not that I sat back and waited for God to do all the work - he has no hands but ours and works through us and those around us.

Second, I learnt the lesson of the importance of a kind word. On the evening of Carnival, Christine and I arrived home to a message on the answer phone. We were both physically exhausted - it was almost too difficult for either of us to walk upstairs to hear the message, which was a short and simple "Thank you". It meant so much and gave both of us an immediate lift - it will be a treasured memory of this year's event.

Finally, don't forget to count your blessings - realise how fortunate you are to live in a community such as this - and thank God for it.

As a postscript I must say thank you to the warm welcome and generosity I received from my neighbours in Northall when I was out collecting in advance of the Carnival.

I hold each of you in my prayers.

Gordon Gray - Reader, St Mary's & Chairman of St Mary's Village Carnival Committee

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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.