The kingdom, the power and the glory are yours…

This week, Jeanette and Martyn set up the Prayer Space, based on the theme of God’s Kingdom.

In our Prayer Service on Tuesday morning, Martyn talked about the mustard seed, which in the well-known parable, grows into a huge tree, becoming a home for all the birds and wildlife for miles around.  In reality, Martyn explains, the mustard plant is more like a shrub than a tree and is highly invasive, emitting chemicals to eradicate all the indigenous plants in the local habitat.  We are called to be a bit like that mustard plant, spreading the message of the Kingdom, emitting chemicals as an antidote to some of the more negative influences that have grown up in our habitats…!

More appealingly, perhaps, Jeanette talked us through the action of yeast, and how that can be an allegory for the Kingdom of Heaven: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.” (Matthew 13: 33)  Jeanette took us through the various stages of bread making:

  • the unpromising-looking little flecks of yeast, which is actually a living organism;
  • adding water (c.f. the “living water” Jesus speaks of);
  • as well as putting in flour, you add salt (c.f. our calling to be “salt” and “light” in the world);
  • as far a light is concerned, her bread had sat outside in the God-given sunshine, which provided the heat to make the dough rise;
  • then the dough had to be “knocked back” or “proven” to half its size before being put int a loaf tin (c.f. how we are tested or “proven” by God)
  • Finally, having been left to rise again somewhere warm, the bread is baked.
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Jeanette’s instructions on bread-making

We then turned our focus towards the prayer stations Jeanette and Martyn had prepared:

1. God’s Kingdom now…. as shown by how I live my life

God’s Kingdom is established whenever people submit to his reign as King and carry out His will in their lives.

Paul in his letter to the Galatian church encourages them to live their lives demonstrating the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5: 22–23)

If you would like to experience more of one of the fruits of the Spirit in your life, take the card that talks of that fruit, consider the question and then pray for Holy Spirit to work in your life.

Then take one of the fruit beads as a reminder to pray for this.

“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5: 25)

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Love  This word for love doesn’t refer to warm feelings but to a deliberate attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything back.

Question: Am I motivated to do for others as Christ has done for me, or am I giving to receive something in return? 

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Joy  Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful.

Question: Am I experiencing a joy of life on a regular basis, or is my happiness dependent on things going smoothly in my day?

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Peace  It’s not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. It is a sense of wholeness and completeness that is content knowing that God controls the events of the day.

Question: Do I find myself frazzled by the crashing waves of turmoil in my life, or am I experiencing “the peace that passes all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6-7)?

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Patience Other words that describe this fruit are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and steadfastness.

Question Do I react badly when things go wrong or people irritate me, or am I able to keep a godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations and if things are not going my way?

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Kindness  When kindness is at work in a person’s life, he or she looks for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others. It is moral goodness that overflows. It’s also the absence of malice. 

Question: Is it my goal to serve others with kindness, or am I too focused on my own needs, desires, or problems to let the goodness of God overflow to others?

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Goodness  The deliberate choice of doing right rather than wrong. The firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil and the choosing and following of all moral good.

Question: Does my life reflect these standards?

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Faithfulness Faithfulness is the concept of remaining consistently loyal to someone or something, regardless of extenuating circumstances.

Question:  Is my life characterised by faith in Christ and faithfulness to those around me?

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Gentleness  Gentleness, also translated as meekness, is not weakness. Gentleness is not without power, it just chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness, demonstrates humility and lives in tranquility.

Question: Do I come across to others as brash and headstrong, or am I allowing the grace of God to flow through me to others?

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Self-control Our natural desires are sometimes at odds with God’s Spirit and want to be in charge. Self-control is literally releasing our grip and choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right way.

Question: Are my natural desires controlling my life, or am I allowing the Spirit to direct me to the things that please God and serve others?

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2. God’s Kingdom now… in the Borough of Guildford

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3. God’s Kingdom now … in the United Kingdom

We prayed for Manchester, and for all the individuals and families caught up in that dreadful atrocity.

Then we prayed for the forthcoming General Election:

On 6th May the Archbishops wrote to the parishes of the Church of England and in a long letter concerning the General Election on 8th said, among other things:

“This election is being contested against the background of deep and profound questions of identity. Opportunities to renew and re-imagine our shared values as a country and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only come around every few generations. We are in such a time.

“Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God’s world will all play a shaping role. If our shared British values are to carry the weight of where we now stand and the challenges ahead of us, they must have at their core, cohesion, courage and stability.

“Cohesion is what holds us together. The United Kingdom, when at its best, has been represented by a sense not only of living for ourselves, but by a deeper concern for the weak, poor and marginalised, and for the common good. At home that includes education for all, the need for urgent and serious solutions to our housing challenges, the importance of creating communities as well as buildings, and a confident and flourishing health service that gives support to all – especially the vulnerable – not least at the beginning and end of life. Abroad it is seen in many ways, including 0.7% aid commitment, properly applied in imaginative ways, standing up for those suffering persecution on grounds of faith, and our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking and sexual violence in conflict.”

Read the letter to consider what else they said about the need for courage and stability in our society made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Take one of the subject cards and pray for a just and appropriate outcome to the election, leading to a fair society for all:

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Education; a radical approach to education so that the historic failures of technical training and over-emphasis on purely academic subjects are addressed and rebalanced

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The need for urgent and serious solutions to our housing challenges

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The importance of creating communities as well as buildings

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A confident and flourishing health service that gives support to all – especially the vulnerable – not least at the beginning and end of life.

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0.7% aid commitment, properly applied in imaginative ways, standing up for those suffering persecution on grounds of faith, and our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking and sexual violence in conflict

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A fair and just society for all

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A just economy and just finance

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A re-evaluation of the importance of religious belief in society

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Stable communities that are skilled in reconciliation, resilient in setbacks, diligent in sustainability, particularly with regard to the environment

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Stability in marriage, the family and the household as foundational communities

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An outward looking and generous country

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4. God’s Kingdom now … in the world

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A reminder of the Coronation Oath – and how rulers should submit to the power of God…

Our morning of prayer finished with a sublime piece of music by John Rutter.

Thank you to Jeanette and Martyn for producing a very thought-provoking and helpful prayer service and prayer space this week.

Cally

Perspective – mental rambling through PCC

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I don’t know about you but my mind tends to wander quite a lot. However interesting what I’m doing, watching or listening to, I’ll be concentrating away and then…pop… I’ll be off, mentally butterflying on to something else. It may be a gender thing – Alison would say so, but she just doesn’t appreciate that it’s not a case of my not listening, it’s just that a husband’s head is already so full of very important stuff…

I wasn’t therefore surprised when, five minutes into Monday’s PCC meeting, my mind glided subconsciously from the beautifully crafted timed agenda (© Trish).

Two thoughts came into my head – not simultaneously but sequentially. First came the thought – I promised to write a blog about this meeting! Why did I promise to write a blog about this meeting!?! Could I not have agreed to blog about a something/anything else!?!?! What on earth can I write about?!?!?!

Then, gradually forming, came a rather more useful thought. That there was nothing in anyway unusual or out of the ordinary about the meeting – usual people, usual place, usual agenda items. BUT…but therein lay its importance.

Here were people of different ages, genders, backgrounds, experiences, characters, temperaments, views and political beliefs in the same place at the same time. Each of us holding different opinions on the way things should be done and the relative priority of the issues before us but coming together in fellowship. United in purpose, no one hogging the floor, open to the proposals of others, with everyone free to express their view without fear of dissent or dismissal.

From one perspective that is entirely usual – luckily for us that’s pretty much how we go about things in our church. However, despite these values being fundamental for communities and society to flourish – they can’t just be taken for granted. I wondered how many other places there are in our pressurised and sometimes fragmented lives, where such a disparate range of people join together? How often are all points of view encouraged, listened to and taken into account, rather than just ignored or shouted down?

When times are busy or hard simple things can get inadvertently forgotten. Simple values like, empathy, tolerance inclusivity, listening and flexibility and are not only vital, they are also fragile – they have the potential to wither if not actively remembered, practiced, appreciated and celebrated.

Sometimes it’s good for me (and maybe for us all?) to step back, let my mind wander past the agenda, past the usual faces, past the moment and remember to notice the wood for the trees.

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Simon M

Note: Irreverent cartoons by Cally – not Simon, so don’t blame him…

One Today!


Written on Sunday 20th May

Today we had a very special Messy Church – our first birthday! A year ago we started holding a monthly Messy Church, tentatively wondering how many people might come. We’re now a year on and are confident of getting 50 to 60 people through the doors.

For our birthday, we thought a social event would be a treat for everyone and so we had a BBQ and a play on the field. Goodness, how we were blessed by the weather! After the rain yesterday, today was blue skies and warm sunshine. The children played football, hockey and climbed on frames! The adults might’ve done some of that too, but seemed to prefer chatting on the blankets and having a glass of Pimm’s. Many times I heard “Oooh, my first Pimm’s of the year”  – it was mine too!

Before our food, Cally led us in giving thanks, not only for the food, but for the friendships and good times that Messy Church has given us – and for the fabulous weather too.

As we’re back round to summer months, the Dads are wielding the BBQ tongs and we’re very grateful to Rob for his expert burger flipping. Eve did fried onions that Annie would be proud of! For our dessert we were treated with Lorna’s 1st Birthday cupcakes, Ellie’s lemon cake and Cally’s fantastic Messy Church birthday cake.

Cally has been the driving force behind our year of Messy Church, backed by a team of capable and willing helpers. It was very apt that Pippa specifically thanked Cally and presented her with some flowers. I can’t name all our helpers, but we are certainly blessed to have a team with such a rich mix of skills. We have those whose ‘craftiness’ knows no bounds, those who can run scientific experiments, those who can build mansions from boxes, those who can cook and those who can lead fun and inspiring worship. And of course we all do it with a huge dose of messiness! Here’s to another exciting year of Messy Church and our 2nd birthday. You never know …. there may be more Pimm’s….

Trish

 

Prayer Space – Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

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Window in the Temple del Sagrat Cor in Barcelona, Spain

Do not allow us so to be led into temptation that we fall into it, but rescue us from the evil one

When Peter and I were asked to lead one of the weeks of the Prayer Space, I chose ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ I have long been aware of ‘the spiritual forces’ at work in our world. Maybe this dates back to my early years as a Christian, reading books like C S Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” or, later, some of the Frank Perretti novels. I think that our experiences of working in Bangladesh, India and Nepal where life is less sophisticated and spiritual battles are more obvious, also made us more aware.

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A recent reading from John Stott’s “Through the Bible, through the year” started us thinking about these phrases. He suggests:

These last two petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are really one.  They should probably be taken together as negative and positive aspects of the same prayer. 

James writes “When tempted, no-one should say, “God is tempting me”.  For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone”.  (James 1: 13).

So why pray that God will not do what he has promised never to do?  It is better to unite the two clauses of the prayer, to understand “lead us not into temptation” in the light of its counterpart “deliver us from evil”.  The probable answer is that this is a prayer more that we should overcome temptation rather than avoid it.  We could then paraphrase the petition:

 “Do not allow us so to be led into temptation that we fall into it, but rescue us from the evil one”.

This lead us on to thinking about how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, and also in the Garden of Gethsemane, and how He overcame it.

Satan presented a worldly perspective to Jesus – to use His power, status and authority. In similar ways Satan tempts us too. He wants us to see things as the world sees them – and follow the world’s priorities rather than God’s.

Consider 1 Peter 4: 12,14:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you…. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.”

For ourselves we can often experience struggles and difficulties after a time of special spiritual awareness or experience, or when our resistance is low for whatever reason. It can be helpful to be aware and ready – see 1 Peter 5: 8-9:
“Discipline yourselves, keep alert.  Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.”

And Ephesians 6: 10-13:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.  Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

We can put on the armour which God gives to protects us.  Here is the Armour of God prayer, copies of which are available in the Prayer Space:

 

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Carolyn (and Peter)

Tributes to two dear, departed ladies

Written on 16th May

The last two Sundays have seen our anniversary celebrations focussing on two of the most important occasions in a person’s life:  baptism and marriage.   They have been very happy and moving services,  enabling people to renew promises made in years gone by and bringing back lots of memories of past weddings and christenings, whether at All Saints or elsewhere.

As well as being very important to those of us who are regular church-goers, baptisms and weddings are two of the three events which will often bring people into church who do not normally attend weekly services, as they mark key milestones in a person’s life.  The third milestone, of course, is a funeral. This is not a topic that would be easy to include in anniversary celebrations, and I was not surprised that there wasn’t a special service planned to cover funerals like there has been for baptism and marriage.  However, it is an equally important part of what the church has done over the last 50 years for the wider community as well as those in the weekly congregation.

I was reminded of this today when attending the funeral of Edith Ford.  She was a lovely lady who was a very important part of All Saints for 50 years or so, and who will be greatly missed. The service was very moving, with lovely tributes from her daughter Gillian, from Jean Reed and from Mike Truman, all read by Beverly.  We heard about Edith’s life and many happy memories of her activities in the church.   My fondest memories of her are the part she played in so many musical entertainments over the years, and I am very grateful to Jean for reminding us all of the time when an injury nearly prevented Edith from singing Rule Britannia at one fund-raiser.  But she was not to be stopped, and arrived in a wheelchair in full regalia as Britannia herself, delivering a bravura performance.

Today’s service was very much a celebration and thanksgiving for Edith’s life, and in that way I felt it was as much a part of our anniversary events as the other activities of our “50 days for 50 years”, as was the recent thanksgiving for another long-standing member of our church community, Sandra Hyde.  Although neither of them could be with us in person for the anniversary, they are both very much with us in spirit.

Sara

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SANDRA HYDE
(13th December 1951 – 8th April 2017)

Service of thanksgiving for her life, held at All Saints on 28th April 2017

Beverly’s tribute:

It’s been really good this afternoon to hear memories of Sandra, from different areas of her life; her family, her work, her music. And each of us may well have discovered things about Sandra that we hadn’t previously known. She was a private person, a quiet person who graciously kept many things to herself.

I knew Sandra in the context of this church of All Saints, and as a member of this parish. I first got to know her as what’s known as a ‘Chalice Assistant’, for our 8 o’clock service. Sandra and I would both arrive at about 7.45am, thinking that it was really a bit early to be up and about; and together we’d put on our robes and process out into church. And I remember Sandra quietly standing by my side, when I was new to this parish, and assisting me with setting up the vessels for Communion, washing my hands, and tidying away afterwards.

I remember getting to know her a bit better at the Thursday morning Communion service here at All Saints. Sandra would often arrive just a couple of minutes late, after the service had already started; and we’d nod to each other, and smile, and acknowledge that she was a bit late again. And then over coffee in the Reading Room I found out a bit about her family, her music, her work, her friends. And as the months went by, and Sandra started to become unwell, she’d just say a very few words about how she was, the challenges she was facing, the concerns she had; and my heart went out to her.

I remember, as the cancer got worse, going round to her house one day to pray with her. We talked about lots of things on that occasion, and shared a fruit loaf that she’d kept in the freezer and no longer wanted; I wonder now whether she was begin to clear things out, knowing that her life was no longer so certain. And I remember spotting a bugle that was sitting on the window sill; it was just before Remembrance Sunday, and we were struggling to find a trumpeter to play the Last Post for that service. Many years ago I’d played the bugle in a Girls Brigade band; so Sandra leant me her bugle just in case we were desperate on Remembrance Sunday morning. And blessedly a trumpeter was found, and the congregation was spared my very rusty bugle playing! And I remember laughing about it with Sandra – and that lovely smile she sometimes broke into, as we can see on our order of service.

But perhaps what I remember most was serving Sandra the bread and wine during the Thursday Communion service, and the words that go with that. When she came to the Communion rail I’d say those familiar words, ‘the body of Christ, keep you in eternal life’; ‘the blood of Christ keep you in eternal life’. They’re words that came in our reading from the Bible for today – John 6:35-40. Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst….This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day’.

And as Sandra attended the Thursday Communion week by week, and the 10 o’clock service on Sundays when she became to ill to serve the chalice at 8 o’clock, those words became more and more poignant: the body of Christ keep you in eternal life; the blood of Christ shed for you. I knew that they were as poignant for Sandra as they were for me, because they were words of comfort, but also words of hope. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son; so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish, but may have everlasting life. “And I will raise them up at the last day.”

And through those services, through the love of her friends and family, through the support of those who cared for her in the last few weeks, Sandra prepared not just for death, but also for the hope of everlasting life – life in God’s presence forever. And as we have commended Sandra to God’s mercy today, and committed her body for burial, we now rejoice that she will hear those most beautiful words of Jesus: Well done, good and faithful servant; come and share your master’s happiness.

Prayer of thanksgiving for Sandra’s life:

We thank you for Sandra’s quiet faith, her faithful service, her consistent life and witness. We thank you for the good we saw in her, and the love we received from her. May all that she was be an encouragement and example to us today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Choice of music:
Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the king of creation

Pachelbel’s Canon
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
I vow to thee my country
Jupiter

Reading:
John 6: 35-40

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EDITH FORD
(21st December 1919 – 28th April 2017)

Service of thanksgiving for her life, held at All Saints on 16th May 2017

Mike’s tribute:

It’s sometimes said that people have “a twinkle in their eye”, and that is my abiding memory of Edith. She was always alert, always wanting to get to know people. And she had a deep capacity to see the best in situations and people. As she started to lose her sight, she was always commenting on how kind people were, and how much help she got, rather than about the difficulties that losing he sight caused her.

When we first introduced modern worship songs and the Worship for Everyone service, some of the older members of the congregation were not so keen. Edith’s complaint, however, was that the music made her want to dance, and there wasn’t enough room in the pews to do that!

As Edith became more unsteady on her legs, she would make her way back from the altar rail holding on to the edge of the pews. As I normally sit on the end of a row, a habit grew up between us of briefly clasping each other’s hands as she went by. Even when I was serving, I would do the same with her at the communion rail. Neither of us ever said anything about it, but it was something typical of Edith; simple and uncomplicated, but with real meaning for us.

Edith was not one for over-sentimental preaching; I think her view of God was one of a loving but firm parent. But I can’t help imagining her, having shed the infirmities of her later life, pirouetting her way up to the gates of heaven with a twinkle in her eye.

Choice of music:
The Lord’s my Shepherd

Love divine, all loves excelling
Jupiter

Readings:
1 Corinthians 13: 1-8a
John 14: 1-6

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Edith (front, centre) surrounded by church friends

 

 

The All Saints’ Photobook


As the blog entries on this web-site show, the activities that go on at All Saints’ are many and varied. And online, it’s just a 50-day snapshot. If the walls of the church could speak, just think how many things they could tell us about everything that has happened in the last 50 years!

As part of the celebrations, I have been compiling a photobook that chronicles, in picture form, the life of the church and its congregation, from the laying of the foundation stone on April 15th 1967 to the present day.

The book will contain both images and historical reminiscences, with an introduction by Beverly and edited highlights from Mike Woodcock’s researches into the early history of the church. For by far the larger part of this period, there was no concept of an “official church photo archive” and so I am also indebted to a number of people who have graciously allowed me to include photographs from their private collections.

Before the start of the 50 days, I got together a first draft of the book – just to give a flavour of what the finished item might look like. This has been sitting at the back of the church, or has been on the “memorabilia stall” for you to look at.

Now I need your help …

* Please let me know if there are aspects of church life you think are missing from the current version and should be in there.
* Do get in touch if you have any interesting photos.

* And tell me if you have any memories of All Saints’ that you would like me to include.

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that some of the text is in Latin. No, I’m not going mad! This is a standard convention among publishers. This “placeholder” text gives us a quick way of “making up” some paragraphs that we haven’t written yet and allows us to get a good feel for what the pages will look like at the end.

Can you help to write something? I am very interested in contributions to the text as well as photos. Do you remember a particular incident, or, perhaps, something that used to happen regularly at All Saints’? Something that will give today’s parishioners a glimpse of the history that they now are part of?

After the Pentecost service and Hog Roast on 4 June, our celebrations will come to their official end, but that will be a signal for me to get busy again. I’ll take everything that you send me, give it all a good stir, and out of the mix will come the final version of the book. This will be available to order, in both a paperback and hardback version, with prices starting at around £15.

Before the rise of the Internet, there was little thought to the need for obtaining permissions before using church-related images. Nowadays, of course, the landscape is rather different. For reasons of both safeguarding and privacy – as well as simple politeness – we would like to ask you for explicit permission before we reproduce any photos in which you (or any under-18 children of yours) may feature.

Do come and talk to me if you are at all concerned, and don’t feel under any pressure to be included. There won’t be any “embarrassing” pictures, but if you don’t want to appear, we will either replace the photo with something different, or if you are part of a large group, then we will digitally alter the photo so that you can’t be identified. There is currently no intention to distribute any of the material electronically or place it online.

Above all, simply enjoy the opportunity to reflect on 50 years of witness by the wonderful congregation of All Saints’.

Best wishes,

Simon Doran

God is Love – a celebration of marriage

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The big day has arrived! The 4 “Golden Couples” are sitting in their reserved pew at the front of the church. I think we are all feeling a little bit apprehensive, not least because we never normally sit so far forward. To recap, the “Golden Couples” are:

Robin & Sylvia (married September 1966)
David & Marguerite (June 1967)
Richard & Sandra (September 1967)
David & Jo (October 1967)

Quite amazing that a small church like ours should have this many so close –  it’s a bit like the proverbial buses all arriving at once!

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Henrietta, beautifully dressed up for the occasion, welcomed us and showed us to our seats.

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The pews all had lovely flower arrangements at the end, almost like being at a real wedding.

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We posed for various pictures before the service started (and afterwards) and I think we were all smiling for most of them.

Glancing around there appeared to be several other couples behind us so we were not alone.

The service commenced in the usual way and there were special Bible Readings which were so appropriate and worth reading often. They were:

  • Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7
  • 1 Corinthians 13
  • John 15:9-17  

After Beverly’s sermon on marriage and love we renewed our vows. I must admit to being concerned about this as, perhaps being a Golden Oldie, I thought that our original vows were good enough. However, I thought the words used were so well chosen and meaningful that any qualms I had were forgotten. After that were the intercessions and it was my turn that day. So I hope what I prayed for was appropriate and that the congregation would be patient as they heard part of 1 Corinthians 13 for the third time. This is just so moving, that it is worth putting it here:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; love never ends.” 

Communion followed and couples present were invited to sign the special 50 years’ visitors’ book.

After notices, the children who were in Sunday Club held up a display they had made of the word “love” in many languages.

At the end the Clergy and Choir processed out to the Wedding March – a joyful end to a very nice service.

There was still more to come for us celebrities. Over in the Hall, a super celebration cake with lashings of marzipan – my favourite!

Enough for everybody there accompanied by a glass of prosecco. If that was not enough, we were given a lovely anniversary card and gift token. Thank you All Saints and especially the 50th anniversary committee and Beverly.

They were displays of wedding photos in the Hall and lots of people seemed to be enjoying themselves. We met a couple who had been married in All Saints 48 years ago and his parents had been married in the old church on Christmas Eve 1939. We were asked as to the reasons for marriage longevity. Interestingly, we both came up with the same answers – talking to one another and shared interests. In our case a love of history.

So let’s end with another very relevant Bible verse (used in the service by Beverly):

“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them”

Richard & Sandra

 

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Nearly New Sale – Saturday 13th May

On Saturday afternoon, the Toddler Group did their bit to raise money for a new toddler garden which is planned for just outside the hall.  They made a couple of hundred pounds, as well as helping each of those families who rented a selling table to shift quite a lot of stuff!  The items for sale were of good quality and there were quite a lot of bargains to be had.  The sale was reasonably well attended, but we wonder if it would need to be a regular thing, rather than a one-off, to build up a reputation and attract more buyers.  Thank you to everybody who put in the effort to make the day the success that it was!  (Special thanks to Ellie and Alison!)

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Cally

Letter from Bethlehem

Mike, our Licensed Lay Reader, writes to us again from his visit to the Holy Land.

I’ve just opened a thick red curtain and walked into an Edwardian hotel lounge. There is artwork on the walls, a lot of wood paneling, a fire burning, and outside I can see people sitting on cane furniture on a small patio. Beyond that, in brilliant sunshine, is a one-car-width road and then a 7 metre tall concrete wall, complete with watchtowers. On closer inspection, the art has all been graffitied and the fire is simulated burning rubble.

Welcome to the Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, a project pulled off in complete secrecy by British graffiti artist Banksy. Bethlehem made a big impact on him when he visited (and graffitied the wall) some years ago, and this is his response. The hotel includes a museum of the conflict with Israel, particularly about the wall that has been built between them, snaking into West Bank land to protect Israeli settlements built there illegally under international law. Palestinian farmers find themselves cut off from their olive groves, or see centuries’ old trees uprooted to make way for the wall.

And yet, strangely, I heard more stridency during my time in Jerusalem than in Bethlehem. The art gallery upstairs at the hotel, showing Palestinian artists, had some political works, but more that simply referenced loss and homesickness. A frequent motif was of a large house key; when Palestinian Arabs fled their homes in the events after the 1948 declaration of independence by Israel they took their house keys with them, and keep them as a symbol of the desire to return.

 

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It could be depressing to see these seemingly irreconcilable narratives from the Jewish and Palestinian sides. Yet on both sides I have also met people who want peace, a chance to live together in harmony, and to lead fulfilled lives. In particular, I met Suzan Sahori, a Palestinian Christian, who runs Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans and her daughter Salam, in her early twenties, who works with her. They are helping local craftspeople to sell their products worldwide, and I hope to be stocking some of them on our fair trade stall. Salam, as a ‘digital native’, can’t be held back by physical walls, and had an admirably positive view of the future. Perhaps the connections young Israelis and Palestinians make online will lead to a new hope for peace.

Mike

 

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Fake news … “What is truth?”

FOCUS GROUP…what is it?

The Focus Group is an informal discussion group that offers an opportunity to discuss topical issues with a Christian perspective.It is open to EVERYONE….new comers to the area as well as regular, spasmodic and non-church goers alike!

It meets monthly, (different evening each month) 8-9.30pm.

Refreshments provided and everyone is welcome.

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Christ and Pilate by Nikolai Ge (“What is Truth?“), 1890.

The topic for this month’s discussion was ‘FAKE NEWS….WHAT IS TRUTH?’

…..A huge topic which has been grappled with by many a theologian, philosopher, mystic and academic in rather more than an hour and a half, but Easter has reminded us once again that Pilate infamously asked this profound question when Jesus was before him.

We live in a fast, digital world where opinion-driven writing is the norm; anyone can post anything for everyone to read. We are in a world where photojournalism implies a ‘true’ picture not only of life around the world but minute to minute details of people’s lives and situations. We have always been sceptical about what we read in the newspaper but nowadays ‘fake news’ is out there, intentionally to mislead, influence, and deceive the reader.

So ‘truth’ can be seen in our everyday – perhaps many different sorts of ‘truths’ – eg the truth of historical or current ‘facts’, the type of truth of philosophy, or the truth in a biography or testimony, and of course we have our laws that require society to behave in an honest and ‘true’ way. We have daily conversations with all sorts of people and frequently have to judge whether they are telling the ‘truth’….and…do we always ‘tell the truth’?

Truth can be ‘relative’ eg if I say ‘I played tennis earlier today’  – that’s a true fact, but if say I played well, that’s relative, so can it be ‘true’? Do different cultures have a different understanding / interpretation of ‘truth’? So 1st we have ‘truth’ if you like on a sort of worldly plain and then…

On a deeper level, what is ‘truth’ within ourselves? Our use of social media invites, even compels us to present ourselves as would like to be seen; one’s ‘profile’ of Facebook for example. Are our outward appearances, the way we present ourselves part of who we are / just different aspects of us, or are they a pretence and an attempt to appear more likeable than we believe our genuine selves to be? So huge questions and of course, personal integrity, honesty, sincerity etc not only shapes us as individuals but together, shapes society as a whole; if we’re all corrupt, then so is society.

These were some of the questions that we discussed:

  • Would you say we, as a society, are more or less honest than say 20 years ago?
  • Is dishonesty more acceptable nowadays?
  • What are the consequences of not telling the truth?
  • Is what is ‘true’ for one person, ‘true’ for another?
  • Is ‘truth’ ever absolute?
  • How do we find the ‘truth’ within ourselves?
  • Are we ‘true’ to ourselves / one another / to God?’
  • Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life…..’

Perhaps ‘Truth’ can only be found in God; we cannot describe God (or ‘truth’ for that matter) in language and in trying to do so, we confine and limit something that is infinite and beyond our understanding.

Annie

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