Bishop Mike joined more than 80 worshippers reliving an ancient countryside tradition
Monday 8th January 2018
Bishop Mike marked Plough Sunday (7 January), in St Mary’s, Mendlesham, as farmers and agricultural workers return to work after the Christmas festivities.
Bishop Mike blessed a decorated plough in the church. Plough Sunday is an ancient tradition which, in recent years, has seen a revival in Suffolk and other celebrations on Sunday included a service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral where a working tractor and plough was brought along from the Euston Estate. The celebrations are an important reminder that Suffolk is a rural county in which agriculture plays an important role. Bishop Mike says: “The revival of some of the older traditions which connect us with the earth and its fruits in thanksgiving is important in itself. It's also a good way to conclude Christmas festivities, which otherwise can rather peter out.’’
Bishop Mike also blessed chalk which was given out to the villagers of Mendlesham. They were asked to write the names of the three Wise Men and the year 2018 next to their front doors. This is an ancient tradition at Epiphany which celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men at the stable. Bishop Mike said: ‘‘The revival of some of the older traditions such as these chalk markings on the doors are gentle ways in which Christians can show their faith. They are also a useful way to start a conversation about people’s faith".
Bishop Mike and members of the congregation and villagers went around Mendlesham with the plough, stopping at the village sign to pray for the community. They enjoyed hospitality at the King’s Head pub before returning to the parish church for a 'bring and share' lunch. A group of Morris Dancers also joined in the celebrations, providing a colourful and vibrant background.
Picture by Keith Mindham: Bishop Mike blessed a plough at Saint Mary's Church, Mendlesham, Suffolk, pictured with Father Philip Gray, Vicar of Mendlesham, and the East Suffolk Morris Men.