From the Pen of Rev Steve

Recent copies of the minister's letters from Rev Steve. These are reproduced from the monthly Newsletter.

June/July 2024: The Festival Season

The festival season in Sidmouth is well and truly upon us, where there is an influx of visitors significantly swelling the numbers of our beautiful regency resort. Apparently John Betjeman described it as “a town caught still in a timeless charm”. Its beauty, charm and proximity to the sea is probably why many residents came in the first place. Yet the arrival of the season is why some people moan or even disappear when the big festivals are taking place.

I believe as a church we should welcome and embrace the festivals that come each season. Admittedly at times the numbers do offer a mild inconvenience when you cannot guarantee parking spots, or a reservation in your favourite restaurant, but the benefits far exceed the downsides. I also think that what we are blessed with in this stunning town should be shared with others as much as possible. It is my hope that we can develop the connections with the festivals going forward. We have had a long established link with the Folk Festival, and in addition we are creating links with the Jazz and Blues festival. By so doing we can gain so much by the interaction, grow from the experience of the cultural diversity, but in addition offer a service to the wider community whether they be temporary or permanent residents.

I know myself by frequenting the Greenbelt Festival over a number of years how it can benefit me for a long period of time. There is the anticipation of going, meeting up with friends, and learning through the talks and being enriched through the music. Also there is the longer term benefit to my wellbeing as a result of what it has provided. I know of people who come to our town each year for similar benefits and when I say that I live in Sidmouth such fondness comes across their face.

The concept of festivals is not a new phenomenon, as it can be found in many different cultures across the world and goes back in time. Certainly the idea of a festival was around in the Old Testament with the principle of the year of Jubilee. Jubilee happened every 50 years which was made up of seven lots of sabbatical (or Shmita) years. The Shmita year was when the land was freed from its toil and left fallow. In addition when you have had seven of those periods the community observed the year of Jubilee. During this year servants would be released from their duties, certain debts would be forgiven and people would return to their own properties. It essentially gave a reboot to the community because some debts or servitude would be passed down from one generation to another. Obviously this was a cause for celebration for many and the trumpet would sound to mark the start of this period.

So using the principle of Jubilee how can we who live in Sidmouth share what we have. Property is not cheap here and the opportunity to reside has come about through either hard work, inheritance, good fortune or a combination of the above. Therefore because we have been blessed it can be our duty and joy to offer hospitality to the wider community who frequent this town for a brief period each year. So I say thank the Lord for the festival season and long may it continue!

Every Blessing>
From the Pen of Rev Steve
I believe as a church we should welcome and embrace the festivals that come each season.