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

Christmas Jigsaws and Humpty Dumpty - Fragmentation and Connectedness

I’ve never been the keenest of Christmas jigsaw fans, as once I’ve started to piece one together, I never seem to have the patience, on my own, to complete the picture. This somehow changes when the piecing together includes other people, and it becomes a communal activity. Working together seems to make the prospect of completing the jigsaw easier to contemplate, and this makes it more enjoyable. I like that feeling of connectedness.

I was reading somewhere that jigsaw puzzles can be therapeutic, in that they allow the brain to relax while keeping the hands busy. Therapists say that jigsaws can act much like popular adult colouring books, providing a calming distraction from hours spent staring at screens, whether a computer, TV or a phone. Jigsaw puzzles are apparently thought of as being an easy way to channel the imagination, providing a creative outlet, whilst keeping hands busy and mind focused.

And I can see how this works. The idea of bringing a picture to life, from the chaotic beginnings of fragmentation that we find when we open the jigsaw box, is appealing. Gradually, out of chaos comes a sense of fulfillment, as different pieces are tried and tested until the right combination effortlessly clicks into place. Perhaps starting with the border and then working inwards, until that incredibly satisfying moment, when the final piece is placed in position.

What a rewarding feeling, as at last we can see the complete picture. Therapists say that the mood-enhancing effects of completing a jigsaw help to lower heart rate and blood pressure, and that the more difficult and complex the jigsaw, the better the reward!

Well, you might agree with me that at the moment, just about everything in society seems fragmented, chaotic and complex. Things have got to such a state that, just like Humpty Dumpty, broken into pieces after falling from his perch, no matter how many kings horses and men we throw at the world’s problems, in hoping to find a solution, there seems to be little likelihood of us ever successfully putting “Humpty back together again.”

The thing is, that this may not be such a bad thing because, as the puzzle of how we piece together our fragmented world begins to take shape, (which I believe it will), we might come across the one vital piece that has been missing. A little like finding that lost piece of jigsaw we eventually find down the back of the sofa, it might take some effort to search it out, but boy, will it have been worth it.

On a personal level too, there are times when we feel like we’re fragmenting and falling apart. You know what I mean, something changes, someone or something that we’ve relied upon is lost, or somehow goes missing, with the consequence that we feel like Humpty, broken and in pieces. When we’ve picked ourselves up, and hopefully put the pieces back together again, the picture may not be the same as before, but out of the chaos some order is restored.

At Christmas, we remember that the chasm separating Humanity from God is bridged; through the coming of Jesus, the jigsaw of creation is complete, harmony and connectivity is restored. And if we can believe that, we might begin to see a clearer picture for the future of the world and for ourselves emerging. Emmanuel (God with us) appears, and that missing God shaped piece in our souls and in our world, is filled with a Peace that the world just cannot give.

Merry Christmas Jigsaws, and a Contemplative, Compassionate and Courageous New Year to you all.

Revd Paul


Read more here.

  • Bible Study Course
  • Dads & Kids
  • Bell Ringers Quiz Night
  • Benefice Tea Service at St Mary's, Shinfield
  • Music at St Mary's - February 2018

Read more here.

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