Gill Long

Dear Friends

The New Year has well and truly started and for some of us it may feel a bit bleak after the warmth of the Advent season. Is it the same every year or more poignant this year because we are again in lockdown? But my heart is lifted when I look out on the garden and see the heroic snowdrops making their way out to thrill me, accompanied by the beautiful hellebores and the first shoots of the spring bulbs. Is it too early to say Spring is on the horizon?  The nights are certainly drawing out now; we have passed the shortest day! I’m reminding myself every day to embrace the wonders and gifts from God. Some days it is just the smallest of things – fresh sheets on the bed, an uplifting piece of music, maybe the taste of something yummy. I even sent a picture of my clean and tidy kitchen utensil drawer to one of my friends! It was a job that I had been meaning to do for many weeks. It’s a joy to open it now. Thank God for small blessings.

How blessed are we that our amazing scientists have developed the Coronavirus vaccinations. It is great news that we have something that could bring us out of lockdown and give us some hope in the future.  How apt is it that clinics are being held in some of our cathedrals and churches, welcoming people that may never have stepped inside before. I pray they may meet God for the first time.  I have had to lean on God to give me the courage and confidence to administer this new vaccine to patients. I was consumed by all the legalities and official procedures but during a quiet moment I listened to the joy and gratefulness of people on the radio, and realised that this is what matters to me.  Can you believe that day my bible reading was: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3: 5-6). Interestingly Paul in his sermon this morning “Come, see and listen’ talked about listening for God’s word in our lives. He pointed out the various ways that God talks to us; we just need to keep watchful.

If you wish to listen to this week’s sermon, and previous sermons, they have been posted on our website at

It was a pleasure to go into church this morning to support those who were involved in the live streaming of our service. It seemed very strange for me to be in our church with only a few people. It is a complete reversal as I’ve been shielding myself for the past months observing the congregation in the church from Zoom. I was struck by the delightful hubbub of everyone greeting each other on Zoom before the service, and realised despite the prolonged restrictions of the coronavirus we still have our solid fellowship. Please continue to look out for each other and let Paul or the wardens know if there are any needs or concerns. In the words of the esteemed Michael Ball on the radio this morning: “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud”! Beautiful!

If you have access to the Internet we now have a YouTube channel that shows our services in full. Go to and search for St. Bartholomew’s Ducklington.

If you don’t have Internet access but have found some useful radio or television programmes to support your faith I would be very interested to know so I that I could compile a list to share.

Please keep praying for our NHS, especially for all the staff at the Oxford hospitals as they continue to deal with an extremely challenging time.

I hope you manage to find some joy in the little things every day, and know that God is with you constantly. ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’. Romans 15:23.

God Bless