The Six Parishes of the Saxon Shore Benefice

"The United Benefice of Hunstanton St. Mary with Ringstead Parva St. Andrew,
Holme-next-the-Sea St. Mary the Virgin and Thornham All Saints,
with Brancaster St. Mary the Virgin, with Burnham Deepdale St. Mary
and Titchwell St. Mary, with Choseley",
which is the official name of this Benefice, is rather a mouthful and so the name
"The Saxon Shore Benefice"
was chosen for these churches on the north west Norfolk coast.

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Our Rector

Contact details:
Rev. Susan Bowden-Pickstock
The Rectory,
Broad Lane,
PE31 8AU

Tel: 01485 211180

The Revd Susan Bowden-Pickstock is the Rector of the Saxon Shore Benefice of six Churches here on the north Norfolk Coast.

Photo - Susan Bowden-Pickstock
She is an ordained Pioneer Minister in the Anglican Church. This is a relatively new type of training which combines traditional theological training with an emphasis on relating to our current culture and helping church and community to meet. Susan grew up in rural villages in East Anglia, and has been a person of strong faith sinc small child:

          ‘I remember a conversation under cherry blossom when I was about 5 when it all made
          sense in my head that God was there, and I was loved, and that was that.’

Her previous working life includes ten years as a Registered General Nurse: journeying from Guys Hospital in London, to Papworth, Newmarket, Addenbrookes, and finishing as a GP Practice Nurse in Cambridge. She then worked for fifteen years within the BBC in local radio as a ‘Faith and Ethics Producer.’

Photo- Susan Bowden-Pickstock

Susan is married to Philip and they have four children at various stages of secondary, university education and employment: careers are currently being formed as a chef, in psychology, in medicine, and in any and all water sports and computer games…. Family life has been the greatest joy, in all its wonder, muddle and chaos.

She has always taken Iranaeus seriously when he said ‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive.’ and cannot resist the challenge to explore a new dimension of living. She therefore also has RHS qualifications in general horticulture, as well as an honours degree in Literature and Religious Studies. Her childhood dream to be an author was fulfilled in writing a book on horticulture and spirituality called ‘Quiet Gardens: the Roots of Faith?’ and hopes one day to write more.

She has taken a few random opportunities in life including exercising racehorses at Newmarket, Photo- Susan Bowden-Pickstock sailing on a tall ship out of Stockholm, spending time with monks in Rome, travelling with the family to Australia, Canada, Scandinavia and Italy and gaining (with a team of others) a Chelsea silver-gilt medal.

Susan enjoys almost anything but particularly, cooking and eating, gardening, hill climbing, horse-riding, cycling, swimming, reading, cinema, theatre, and photography.

Photo - Susan Bowden-Pickstock

She would like to own a giraffe (but only on a plot of land big enough, of course!).

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A sermon from our Rector

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

The grain of wheat falls.

There is nothing the grain does to help itself, it is a grain, it can do nothing.

But in it’s passivity it brings a harvest.

Today I want to think about helplessness.

The other night Philip and I took advantage of a quiet night in and watched a film called Concussion. It tells the true story of an extremely bright and able pathologist who in the course of his work in America came across a new condition that was killing a series of his patients.

They were all American football stars, and if we think football is big here, it is huge in the states. So these men that he was investigating the deaths of, in a medical sense were all household stars, all on pedestals,all legends.

Yet they were dying because they felt they were going mad. And this Dr found that although their brain structure on death looked entirely normal, he found that deep within the brain the issue was terribly damaged on a celllular level.

And of course it was caused by the constant concussion that their brains suffered during the 15 or so years of their playing careers. And the minute but extensive damage this did caused all sorts of behavioural changes later in life, like a really aggressive dementia.

The doctor published his results and was immediately threatened, and ostracised and vilified by a powerful industry that simply did not want to know.

So he moved right across the country and took a small job in a local hospital, devastated that his knowledge and the potential to do good with it, simply had to wait.

Eventually. Years later, and sadly many deaths of these football stars later, he was given the chance, by a football player himself who left his brain to medical science, to talk openly about his discoveries. And for rules to come in to help govern and reduce the incidences of concussion in American football players.

But for years he had to wait, with no certainty of results. And he did it with a dignity.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Today is The start of Passiontide.

Passion meaning suffering?

Well actually no, not really. Obviously suffering is involved in the Easter story, but the word 'passion' here has the same root as 'passivity' - doing nothing.

Passiontide is the beginning of Jesus' passivity. His stepping back and waiting , letting events unfold.

Do we think of Jesus primarily as a man of action? Or passivity? If you read the gospel of Mark, in particular, Jesus is all action...'immediately he went...' it keeps saying. Until a certain point, and then suddenly the verbs disappear, and Jesus does and says nothing. Instead he is taken, he becomes the one about whom things are said and to whom things are done. He waits.

Many of us know a lot about waiting, about having to be helpless. Perhaps notably at a death of a loved one where there is nothing any of us can do about it.

Sometimes there are positive outcomes from a death, but on the whole we are not overwhelmed with positivity.

Yet Jesus describes his death entirely positively - unless this grain of wheat falls and dies it remains a single grain...

But if this happens to it, it becomes many many grains.

Jesus death was extraordinary. God cannot die. But God squeezed into human frame can.

And There wouldn't be any need for that.... the death of God, unless in the doing of it it brought to life millions more... I was no accident, it was a deliberate waiting.

Jesus was passive, during his last days but there was a lot going on.

How does this help us?

Well firstly we are the inheritors of the treasure gained in darkness for us.

Jesus' Passion, his waiting on events unfolding, not knowing exactly what would be, and bearing what was; means we inherit life, life that starts straight away in the experiences of joy and peace that understanding the love of God for us brings us - that solidity, that assurance that ultimately all shall be well.

So, we are the inheritors of the treasure gained in darkness for us. Secondly we can understand our own periods of waiting with the knowledge of the dignity of passivity. If it is good enough for God to be passive and wait, then God has bestowed dignity on our waiting.

Jesus models for us the dignity of passivity, of sometimes having to be helpless. Helplessness and passivity are not championed in our society. Far from it, they are seen as negative experiences, but under God, they are clothed with great dignity, almost more than when we are active.

But God assures us, through the Passion of Christ, that we always have the status of a loved child of God. We always have dignity, God has clothed us with it, especially when we are in situations where we are helpless.

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.


Bless you

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Last updated 14/08/2018
Services in the Benefice during August and September.