New Website!

We have a new Website here – still being developed so please let us know how to improve it! It has with it a blog, so from now on we will be using that one for sermons etc. Next week I’ll start putting up the meditations that we’ve heard during Lent – they’ve been really popular.

Neil and Kitty’s Church Wedding

1293044_502127403212053_343332061_oMy fiancée and I have always wanted to have a church wedding, but it had to be somewhere that meant something to us personally, and with me having grown up in Farnham, and been a regular at St John’s for many years, it made complete sense to have our wedding at St John’s.

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After meeting Lesley and seeing how friendly and welcoming the congregation are, we were certain this was the place where we should start our married lives together.

Lesley was incredibly supportive and accommodating throughout, in terms of allowing access for our Photographer and Florist, in helping in our choice of readings and selection of hymns, we couldn’t have asked for anything more.

130906-133314-6597At our rehearsal, Lesley made every effort to make all involved feel as relaxed as possible, and really left us with a feeling of confidence that everything was ‘under control’.  The big day came at last, and it even stopped raining just at the perfect moment..

Our service was formal, personal, emotional and heartfelt all at the same time, and this was just the perfect balance for us, our families and guests.  In fact, many people commented on how lovely the service was and how, unlike at other weddings no-one wanted to ‘rush off to the reception’ but really take the time to soak up the atmosphere and to realise the importance and full impact of the wedding service itself.  Lesley’s address was funny, sincere and even included reminiscences from my time at the Church 25 years ago!

130906-133314-6416It was great to see how the congregation supported us at the wedding and this really added to how special our day felt.  With great accompaniment from the choir and organist, we all left the church with feelings of elation and optimism about our future together.

Neil Cruden

What’s happening during Lent?

Lent is a time when we traditionally slow down and reflect, journeying alongside Jesus as he travels through the wilderness for 40 days. We might take time to pray, to study, to attend extra services, read a spiritual book and join a Lent group. The sermons are more reflective, leading us towards the events of Holy Week, then on Good Friday we remember Christ’s death and of course on Easter Sunday we celebrate his resurrection. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday which is the 5th March this year.

clip_image002As we journey together we have chosen a course called “Puzzling Questions” for our Lent Groups. Normally, four groups run, two during the day and two in the evening – if you would like to join one of the groups then contact Lesley. We will also be running a group for youth this year. The topics are:

  • Who am I?
  • What is God like?
  • What happens after I die?
  • How can I be happy?
  • Why is there suffering in the world?
  •  What is the spiritual world and how does it impact my life?clip_image006

If you would like to take part but groups aren’t your thing then you can just get a copy of the workbook, which costs £3.99. There is also a book that the course is based on entitled “How can I be Happy?” which costs £7.99.

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This year our Sunday Lent sermons will be based on a book by Stephen Cottrell entitled “The Nail”. The book offers reflections on Christ’s crucifixion, each chapter focussing on a different character, who describes his or her experience of the Passion. Members of the congregation will be giving their own meditations. If you would like to buy this book it is £6.99.

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On Fridays at 12 noon at St Mark’s Church there will be a service led by visiting clergy from the other churches in the area. The theme for their sermons will be “God and the World” considering topics such as Climate Change and the impact this has on God’s World. After the service a Lent Lunch will be provided, the proceeds being given to charity.

The Ash Wednesday services on the 5th March will be joint Parish Services and will be at:

  • 9:30am at St John’s Church and
  • 7:30pm at St George’s Church

There will not be a Joint Parish Service on the fifth Sunday in March (30th) because it is Mothering Sunday and so the services will be:

  • 9:30am at St John’s Church
  • 10:00am at St George’s Church (joint service with Family Praise)
  • 11:00am at St Mark’s Church
  • 6:00pm at St Marks – Youth Mothering Sunday Communion Service (all welcome)

Posies will be given to all the mothers in the congregation.

Holy Week Starts on 14th April and there will be Communion Services in one of the churches each day – look out for details in next month’s magazine.

We hope you have a very blessed Lent

Lesley and Alan

First baptism with the trial liturgy

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Photo thanks to Georgie Fry

Florence was baptised on Sunday and was the first person in our Parish to be baptised using the trial baptism liturgy. We felt it was a big improvement over the old one. Members of St George’s congregation said it was a much more accessible service, and shorter, and it was good not to mention the devil!

Alan felt it was just as challenging as the previous service but in a way which was much more understandable to the parents and godparents.

Florence seemed to enjoy it too but made no comments about the liturgy!

Hands together, eyes closed

climbingLesley Shatwell, our Reader in training reflects on prayer:

As part of my course, I have been asking people about their experience of prayer and have been surprised at the variety of response.  Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised because there is no one right way.  God has made each of us unique, the fun comes as we try to discover what works for us.

Does prayer come easily to you?  Have you ever been climbing a sheer rock face, knowing that your climbing partner is relying on your skill to lead the way, knowing that if you fall off, whilst you might be safely dangling at the end of your rope, there is always the chance you might tumble to the ground?  I was pleased to find that prayer came very easily to even the most agnostic of my interviewees given those circumstances.

Does prayer in church do it for you?  Sadly it seems that my respondents didn’t really get a lot out of formal prayer in church, although in fairness one said it depended on her mood.  Sometimes she wished people didn’t dawdle through the service, but she had her favourites who set the right pace for her.  Another said that the formality was part of the problem, it didn’t leave enough space for him to reflect, he’s more of an ad lib man.  Hum … there’s no pleasing everyone it seems.

However, they were all quite clear that other people are a great influence in their prayer lives, but even this isn’t as straightforward as I first thought.  There was the influence of a kindly man giving a prayer poem to someone when she was seven.  She told me that this prayer has stayed with her all her life.  On the other hand, another told me about his experience of wondering why he had to go to Sunday School put his hands together and close his eyes and be told all about the missionaries in Africa.  He was totally put off by these self-righteous folk when all he wanted to do was go out and play on a Sunday.  Thank goodness things have changed in the sixty or so years since he went to Sunday School!

So what is prayer?  One old lady told me that she doesn’t like to bother God after all this time when there are so many other more important things which need His attention.  So she goes out into the garden and has a conversation with her husband who passed away over 30 years ago.  Between them, they work things out as they always used to.  I think that probably is prayer, or at least it is no less a prayer than the one the climber sends out into the abyss as he wonders how he’s going to get up the rock face.

The Trial Baptism Liturgy

sticklands baptism 4In 2011, the General Synod of the Church of England requested that the baptism service should be made available in more accessible language. It was felt that many people who do not attend church regularly feel disconnected and mystified by the language of the service. In particular “The Decision” does not help friends and family understand and engage with the intention of those responsible for supporting the newly baptised. Also, the “Prayer over the Water” feels more like a theological treatise than a prayer. Hence, a new trial liturgy has been written and the Parish of Hale with Badshot Lea along with 400 other Parishes around the country have been asked to use it and feed back whether any changes need to be made. Please help us do this by giving your opinion. The services were on 12th January at St Georges, the 26th January at St Mark’s and will be on the 23rd February also at St Mark’s. Please give Lesley or Alan your feedback.

Below are comparisons of the Tradition Form and Trial Form of the liturgy for two sections – “The Decision” and the “Prayer over the Water”.

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Alan and I are really excited about the new liturgy because when comparing it to the old one it is using a language that people will understand, it is shorter, less wordy and less preachy, and relates more to the exciting journey of faith and to the God of Love.

Christmas Sketch

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Peter with his camera at the Crib Serice

Happy New Year everyone. This is the sketch that Peter and I did on Christmas Day, if anyone is interested🙂

The Saturday after Christmas in a well-known high street shop:

Man: I would like to return this please.

Shop Assistant: Ah right you are sir, do you have a receipt?

Man: Err… no it was given to me as a gift…

SA: Oh well – let’s have a look – What’s this???

Man: It umm… well… it’s err – the Baby Jesus.

SA: Oh, I see! You mean God made Flesh come down to earth in human form that we might know God’s eternal love for all of us?

Man: That’s the one.

SA: Right you are sir, and exactly what is wrong with the Baby Jesus?

Man: Well….

SA: Wrong colour perhaps?

Man: No, no, not at although, although I must say I was a bit surprised to find that he was Jewish.

SA: Yes people always are sir.

Man: But it’s just…

SA: You’ve already got one?

Man: No I haven’t, in fact I’ve been meaning to get a saviour for years, but… he’s just not what I was expecting.

SA: No?

Man: I mean – he’s a baby!

SA: That’s right sir, indeed the Son of God is only available here on earth as a poor helpless child.

Man: Exactly, I mean that’s not God is it? How can this here be God and a baby at the same time? I mean it doesn’t make any sense.

SA: That’ll be the mystery of the incarnation, sir.

Man: You what?

SA: The ineffable mystery of God incarnate.

Man: I have no idea what you are on about.

SA: No sir, they never do.

SA: Right sir, I’m afraid I can’t refund you, as this is a gift, given to you, I might add by the grace of God himself, but I can offer you goods in exchange. So what will it be? A Tardis playset and remote control Dalek?

Man: Yeah – go on then – that’ll do.