ANOTHER figure is added to the number of our years, and we have launched forth full of hope into 1898. We wish all our friends and parishioners a most happy and prosperous new year. The past year has not been without its encoura.gements. It has been 3 brighter and happier year for most people, and our hope for all is that this year may bring with it additional joy and happiness.
DEATH has not been idle in Downham during the past year. Some of the oldest and best-known inhabitants have been taken away not less than eleven over seventy years old. Poor old Rebecca Simpson with sadly fallen fortunes, so well known, and so much pitied by all; Mr John Few, whose face is still so well remembered, at a ripe old age; old Ann Browne who leaning on her stick might still in her eighty second year be seen slowly walking up the village; old Mrs. Owen Cole, who during the eighty-six years of her life must have seen strange changes in Downham; and lastly, much younger than the rest, Mrs. Cooke whose many good works will not soon be forgotten. All have passed along" Through the valley of the shadow of death."
ALL but one of these have been buried in the cemetery, which we now hope to make a more worthy resting place for the departed. It is indeed in a sad state now, but an influential Voluntary Board has been formed. There is every prospect that the money necessary for draining, laying down and making paths will be raised. In the next Magazine we hope to be able to give a list of the subscribers. We should like to see the name of every parishioner on the list as a sign that the departed are not forgotten.
NEARLY 200lbs of beef and 20 lbs. of tea, besides plum puddings were distributed from the Rectory at Christmas. In addition to this the Feoffees gave away tickets to all families earning less than fifteen shillings a week, and occupying under two acres of land, for groceries to be bought in the village. Besides this, no doubt, there was much private charity. So much for the side of charity. But what shall we say about the religious side of Christmas at Downham ~ The first Christmas Day at Bethlehem was marked by worship. The rich came from their homes to worship Jesus; the poor shepherds sought Him out to worship Him, and angels did Him honour. There was not much feasting at the Inn at Bethlehem, but there was much worship. Compare this with Downham this Christmas Day; and yet people talk about the religion of the Bible. Our feasts want converting into fasts, that in self abasement people may prostrate themselves in worship before the lowly Saviour. Downham must have presented a sad sight to Almighty God on Christmas Day, through its neglect of worship. " May He forgive those who have sinned so grievously."
Two of our clergy, Mr. Colebrook and, Mr. Addleshaw, were ordained to the priesthood on the Sunday before Christmas, by the Bishop of Ely. Many from Downham were present to witness this most impressive function. We have all prayed that God may bless them in their work, and keep them faithful ministers of Jesus Christ.
WE are very glad to find that the Missionary Boxes have yielded much more this year than in former years. Contents of boxes :-Miss Aspland, 8s. 5d. ; Miss Flanders, 5s. ld.; Miss Hopkin, 6s. 6d.; Hugh Palmer, 3s. 8d.; Miss Smith, 7s. 3d.; Miss G. Taylor, 3s. 3d. j John Baldwin, 7s. ; Miss Fretwell, 6s. ld.; Gertie Hull, 3s.; Miss Peasgood, 5s. 2d.; Mrs. South, 2s. lId.; Mr. Vallis, 3s. 5d.; Clergy House,.£1 16s. 7d.; Grace Green, 6s. 3d.; Miss Neve, 4s. 6d. j The Rectory, 3s. 4d.; Leslie Stockdale, 4s. 9d.; Annie Watson, 3s. 4d.; K Cornwell, 3s. 8d.; Miss Harrison, 5s. 9d.) Mr. Lee, 5s. 6d.; Mr. C. Robinson, 4s. 5d.; Mr. G. Thompson, 2s. 10d. There were also thirteen boxes containing smaller sums. Will anyone else take a box this year, and thus do something for the spre.ad of tne Gospel.
THE Coal and Blanket Club this Christmas received twenty-one tons of coal and ten pairs of blankets as the result of the year's subscriptions. The club will open again on Monday, January 3rd. Church people and dissenters are alike welcome to become subscribers. ,
THE Ploughing Matches resulted as follows :-Double Furrows: 1, J. Jefferson; 2, Arthur Hitch; 3, J. S'toler j 4, ,Joseph Stevens. Single Furrows: 1, Jos. Jefferson; 2, J. Jefferson; 3, W. Godbold; 4, W. Fuller; 5, J. Benton; 6, Murfitt Lithell Farmers' Single Furrow: 1, Walter Brown; 2, Saunders Harrison; 3, Geo. Read. Boys under 18': 1, William Stevens; 2, John Cornwell; 3, Albert Bartle. The prizes amounted to .£8 17 s.
THE Schools reopen on Monday morning January 10. It is hoped every child may be in its place at.9 o'clock punctually, and if possible may not miss a day between now and Easter. This is the last quarter before the Government Inspection, and the children must do well.
THE Sunday School children at Downham will give a concert for the entertainment of all their friends on Tuesday, January 18. The prizes will then all be distributed.
A SIMILAR entertainment will take place at S. Owen's on Wednesday, January 19th.
AND now in wishing everybody a happy New Year, we must express our gratitude to God for the spiritual progress made throughout the parish during the last year. Weare grateful for the Holy Spirit's work in deepening individual lives, and also for the awakening of others. Still there are many yet only church people in name. A new year is a time for turning over a new leaf in so many ways. Why not let it be a time for the devotion of self to God-a time for beginning prayers', for earnestly thinking about the confession of God in confirmation, and above all of the Christians great privilege, the Communion of the body and the blood of our blessed Lord, resulting in a better' and holier life. What a joyful yea.r this will be, if at its end many more are able to say, " Not only a year nearer my end, but also, 'Nearer my God to Thee.' "