S T A M F O R D   U N I T E D   R E F O R M E D

C H U R C H       S T A R   L A N E,   P E 9   1 P H


At the end of October, Halloween is celebrated in different parts of the world. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) when people would light bonfires and wear customs. In that culture the day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark winter months.

By 43AD, the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second, was a day to honour Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the tradition of bobbing apples that is practised today. In 1000 AD the church made 2 November, All Souls’ Day, a day to honour the dead. It is widely believed that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival with a related church sanctioned holiday.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and the short days of winter were a constant worry. On Halloween people thought they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognised people would wear masks when they left home after dark. To prevent ghosts from entering their homes, food was left outside.

The Christian response is to recognise that we are people of the light (Ephesians 5:1 – 20) and to obey the command from Deuteronomy 18:9- 13, not to practice divination or sorcery, interpret omens, engage in witchcraft, cast spells, or consult with the dead. We can remember those who have reached the eternal kingdom before us and commemorate the saints who have trodden the path in the advance party. We are encouraged to learn from their example and celebrate their lives, but we do not need them to materialise. The mark of a good angel is that they communicate the love, joy, and possibility of heaven. Perhaps our guardian angel gets us to that place?

November is the month for remembering and concludes with the Feast of Christ the King and the first Sunday in Advent in preparation for the coming of the baby Jesus. May we hold the treasured memories of those who are no longer with us and prepare ourselves for the Lord’s birth.

Every blessing, Peter


November Services





7th Nov

Pastor Trevor Wilson

Caragh Johnson

Megan Dartnell

14th Nov


21st Nov

Revd David Hughes

Ann Llowarch

Lisa Merriman

28th Nov

Revd Peter Stevenson

Caragh Johnson

Ishobel Macnab




New Arrival

Congratulations to Ellie and family on the safe arrival of a daughter – Naa Ayorkor Raquel Emily Turner Adamah – on 28th September.



Sale of Toys and Books - Saturday 27th November, 10:00-14:00


Christmas Carol Service – Wednesday 22nd December, 18:30




Star Lane Christmas Concert


On Saturday 18th December 7pm at the United Reformed Church, Star Lane.

A traditional Christmas concert with Christmas music and carols, classical favourites, and a chance to join in and sing at the end. Mulled wine and mince pies provided (if Covid-19 restrictions permit) with retiring collection for artists and church funds. Featuring soprano Caroline Trutz, bass-baritone Robert-John Edwards, harpist Eleanor Turner, and cellist Clare O’Connell. Talented young singers from Stamford Endowed Schools will also perform.


The Good Shepherd (John 10: 1-6)                                                       Tony Barry

One of the best loved descriptions of Jesus is as the good shepherd. “The picture of the shepherd is woven into the language and imagery of the Bible” says Biblical scholar William Barclay writing in the Daily Study Bible of John’s gospel. He explains that this is a reflection of Israel’s long central plateau where the shepherd is the most familiar figure. Dr Barclay explains that “their life was very hard” as the shepherd was rarely off duty, having to constantly watch their flock – which was frequently dangerous. It demanded not only almost “constant vigilance and fearless courage and patient love for the flock”. Peter calls Jesus the shepherd of human souls (1 Peter 2: 25) and in the Old Testament it is highlighted in David’s well loved Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Not only does Jesus call himself the door of the sheep but adds that “If any man enter in through me, he will be saved”. In fact the Old Testament often pictures God as the shepherd of his people and Isaiah 40 says He will be “feeding His flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms.” The mark of a good shepherd is his readiness to give his life for his own”; says Anselm Grün, a Benedictine Monk, writing in Through the Year with Jesus. He goes on to say that “Like God, Jesus is the good shepherd who leads his people to life”. Quoting John’s gospel which says “The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” (John 10:11), he adds that this is the mark of a good shepherd. He points out that Jesus goes to his death on the cross for them.

He also quotes the parable of the lost sheep from the flock of a hundred where Jesus rejoices at finding one sheep that was lost. Father Grün comments that “We people are like sheep who have gone astray in the scrubland of life”. He also sees the hundred as an image of our wholeness. In Andrea Shevington’s book Jesus said ‘I am’, she focuses on how radical Jesus is in this story, reaching out “as a shepherd does, caring for the lost and the hurting” (Andrea is both a local preacher in Suffolk and author of several Christian books). She points to “Jesus’ love and living a life of love” and, in her description of Him as the ‘good’ shepherd, she sees the word shepherd as “a word of delight’, attractiveness a radiant life-full goodness and to follow such a shepherd is no hardship”.

She also draws attention to the fact that “He offers forgiveness, overturns argument by creative story telling, the importance of the way of peace and justice. She urges us to see the marks of God both in our own lives and those of others, especially in compassion, gratitude and self-sacrifice. While encouraging us to search for “new shoots of the kingdom”, she cautions that “we do have to learn to look, to accustom our eye to see and expect to see”.















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