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The churches of Beech Hill, Shinfield, Spencers Wood & Swallowfield serving the community
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The churches of  Beech Hill,  Shinfield,  Spencers Wood  &  Swallowfield serving the community
logo
The churches of
Beech Hill,
Shinfield,
Spencers Wood
& Swallowfield

serving the community

Welcome to the Loddon Reach Benefice Website

We are a group of four Anglican parish churches who enjoy working collaboratively in serving the people and communities of Beech Hill, Farley Hill, Grazeley, Riseley, Shinfield, Spencers Wood, Swallowfield and Three Mile Cross. Our four parish churches are delightfully different in history and character, each offering a different take on what it means to be active, forward-looking, community-focussed churches of the 21st century. Each church also has its own style of worship, weekly activities and pattern of services that continue to evolve. You should find all you need to know about us as you engage with our website, but if you’d like to meet and talk something through in person… don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Christian Viewpoint

Freedom………..

Almost every day for the past 11 years, I’ve enjoyed morning walks with a long-legged, auburn-haired female called Tara. Before anyone jumps to a mistaken conclusion, Tara is an Irish Red Setter, my faithful companion and friend.

When we first found her, she was lodging with the brilliant Dogs Trust in Harefield, Bucks, very well looked after, but not particularly enjoying the experience of being cooped up in kennels. To cut a long story short, we eventually managed to convince the trust that we could cope with her highly-strung temperament and give her a good home. We knew about Red Setters, having taken one on when we were first married, and had an idea of what we were letting ourselves in for. We were pleased and excited to be able to give her a home.

For the first few months the red mist was permanently there, with Tara in a constant state of hyper-activity. She was three years old, and in her short life had already had two owners, both with very young families, who’d discovered that they couldn’t cope with Tara’s excitable nature. The outcome was that Tara had found herself with Dogs Trust on two occasions.

For a while, we kept Tara close to heel on the lead, and did a little bit of training at home, in order to try and instill some sense of order into her chaotic mind. As we began to get to know each other, a sense of mutual trust developed, gaps in the red mist appeared, and she became a lot calmer. Our confidence grew, as did hers, and we started to think that she was ready to have a run.

I can clearly picture the first time we decided to let her off the lead to see what would happen. Initially she was uncertain, just like a child on their first day at school. Then her sense of freedom was palpable, and it was a joy to see her bounding across the open fields. She ran, and she ran, and she ran, and we began to wonder how on earth we’d ever encourage her back to take her home!

Now, 11 years on, there’s a little creaking in her joints, a little greyness in her muzzle, and she sleeps far more than she used to. The worrying thing is that I can relate to all of these aspects of the aging process too! We complement each other very well.

Thinking back to the freedom that she must have felt in coming to a loving home, and the joy of running free after the relative captivity of life in kennels; I began to wonder how this might be reflected in our own lives. That feeling of being a little trapped by circumstance, and how we might long for a sense of spiritual freedom. The question is; how is this achieved when we have so many demands on our lives that seem, at times, so overwhelming?

Having a loving home is important to us all, as much for the body as it is for the soul, but I would suggest that finding a “Spiritual” home is fundamental to a life that moves from a sense of incompleteness towards an experience of wholeness.

I want you, the reader, to know that you are loved by the God of all Creation, and that if you want to taste the freedom that is possible by fulfilling the hopes and dreams of your heart and soul, then consider coming home and becoming captivated by Jesus Christ in whom is found perfect freedom.

Freedom in captivity? What is it that keeps you captive? Something for us all to ponder.

If you yearn for a spiritual home, and are not too sure where to start, you’ll find a warm welcome in all of the churches advertised in this magazine. Why not come one Sunday? Visit them all over a few weeks, and don’t be at all surprised if a church resonates with your spirit enough for you to want to call it your spiritual home. If unsure as to how this might feel, it will probably feel a lot like coming home to a familiar place of security and love; a place that doesn’t smother; a place that accepts you as you are, makes you complete, and sets your spirit free.

Blessings, peace & love.

Revd Paul Willis

 

Read more here.

  • Bible Study Course
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  • Auction 28th October
  • Music at St Mary's

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