St. Thomas’ Parish Church Mellor is a member of the Church of England and is part of the Diocese of Chester.
It stands today where a place of worship has been situated since the early fourteenth century. The tower of the Church is of fifteenth century origin with the other parts of the building having been re-built several times. Many ancient treasures are to be found within and without these walls, as well as some beautiful modern pieces.
The Church is open for some parts of the weekend for visitors to view the building and artefacts. Items to look out for in the Church-yard are the remains of a Saxon Cross (now a sun dial), and the remains of the village stocks.
Spring is sprung
The grass is ris
I wonder where
The birdies is?
You may be familiar with this piece of doggerel. This year I’ve been wondering where the spring is, never mind the birdies. As I write this in mid-April I can still see vestiges of snow from my study window. I hope that as you read it in May, the spring will be well sprung indeed. The coming of spring is an important rite in the agricultural year. From a practical point of view for people living in earlier times, it meant freedom from the fear of starvation during the winter months. The longer, warmer days were especially welcome as they bring the promise of planting a new crop with a harvest to come.
From a Christian point of view, the spring is an especially important time of year. First of all, it carries the message of Christ’s resurrection, where life and love overcome death and our sins can be forgiven. We are promised new life in Christ, life in all its fullness. During spring, as well as this celebration on Easter Day, we also have Ascension Day (when we mark the risen Jesus’ ascension into Heaven) and then Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles.
The agricultural and the Christian years coincide in the traditional observance of Rogationtide.
Rogationtide is a recognition of God as Creator; in particular it is a time when we ask God’s blessing on the land (the name comes from the Latin rogare, meaning ‘to ask’). Traditionally, Rogation Days are the three weekdays before Ascension Day; this year that would be Monday 6th, Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th May. However, churches may celebrate Rogation on other days around this time. The Prayer Book Gospel includes the words of Jesus, `Whatsoever ye shall ask for in my Name, he will give it you' – words associated with Christ in Heaven hearing our prayers – which is another reason why Rogation is marked around Ascension Day. As we thank God for the earth's fruitfulness and acknowledge those who work to provide our food, it is no coincidence that Christian Aid week also falls around this time.
Our Rogation traditions have grown from the old Greek and Roman practices of having an annual procession to pray for protection of the crops. In many places, the church will still have a procession or walk, often around the parish boundaries, with various stops for prayers for the blessing of the land.
The 17th century poet and priest George Herbert interpreted the procession as a means of asking for this blessing, but also of preserving parish boundaries, of encouraging fellowship between neighbours with the reconciling of differences, and of charitable giving to the poor. The old tradition of `beating the bounds' (walking the parish boundaries) has been preserved in some communities, while others use prayer in a smaller range of locations. In more recent times, the scope of Rogation has been widened to include prayer for the local community.
In Mellor Parish this year, Evening Prayer on Sunday 12th May will be replaced by a short Parish walk, starting at 6.30pm. There are further details on p.17 of this magazine, and everyone is welcome. I do hope you will give it a try; we have much to thank God for here.
With every blessing, Alex
Impressions of a Mellor Year.
This clip is taken from the DVD “Life on the Edge” available from the Mellor Archaeological Trust or the Parish Office.