Hot Chilli and Lively Dancing warms up a cold January Evening

It’s different when it’s your own.

I’ve been playing for barn dances etc. for most of my life. I’ve played for contra dances in New England, charity events in Italy and community dances in France, plus innumerable weddings, PTAs, church and public events in the UK. They’re generally enjoyable and occasionally dire. One accepts the adulation or indifference at the end of the evening, packs up and goes home with the feeling of a job well done.

But .. it’s different when it’s your own.

Last night we held our fifth annual parish barn dance in St George’s church, Badshot Lea. We had around eighty people from Badshot Lea through to the other end of the parish in Upper Hale, plus friends from the far-flung towns of Alton and Hartley Wintney (!). There is something special about seeing familiar faces obviously enjoying themselves, mingling and generally behaving like a community I felt proud to belong to.

High spots of the evening (for me) were the extra band musicians, generally playing material well outside their previous experience or comfort zones, and actually enjoying themselves. We also had an impromptu display by our two local tap-dancing girls (proudly sporting pink cowboy hats), who felt that the excellent display of Morris dancing by Jack Straws needed interrupting with a bit of local colour.

However, what really brings home the idea of community is the behind-the scenes effort that goes into these events.
The number of helpers turning up on Friday afternoon to prepare the church and on Saturday morning to put everything back in place, were more than we’ve had in previous years and gave a real feeling of commitment, as well as making the job a lot easier.

The organisation, preparation and serving of the food took several days of selfless effort, and meant that those dishing the food out saw little of the dance itself. There were heroic efforts that went into raffle ticket sales and collection on the door, which all added to the amount we were able to donate to church funds.

So, as I sit here and write this, I’m totally exhausted but somewhere there’s a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. Thank you to everyone who played a part. We made over £450 for parish funds, but in a way this is irrelevant. We had an event full of life and happiness that shone a light through the gloom of a cold January night.

Bob Shatwell
31st January 2015

Lent Books and Groups

This Lent there are several options to help you to deepen your faith:

  1. Meet at the Rectory on Tuesdays from 3rd March to talk about the book “The Return of the Prodigal” by Henri Nouwen: In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt’s depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable: the younger son’s return, the father’s restoration of sonship, the elder son’s vengefulness, and the father’s compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes a powerful drama of the parable in a rich, captivating way.
  2. Meet at St Mark’s on Wednesdays from 25th February to watch videos from “Life on the Frontline” and then we will sit around tables and discuss questions that arise from each video. We may be old or young; healthy or infirm; rich or poor; employed or not. We may be busy or bored; optimistic or pessimistic; radically cutting edge or relatively retro. Whoever we are, as Christians, we have at least one thing in common: we each have a Frontline.
    – the place where you spend much of your time
    – the place where you meet people who don’t know Jesus
    – the place God has called you
    – the place of possibility and potential
    Often though, we don’t see ourselves, our workplaces homes, colleges and clubs in this light. But what might God want to do where we are day by day? How might he use us? How will we grow?
  3. Dave Tomlinson is coming on the First Sunday in Lent – 22nd February at 6:30pm at St Mark’s to talk about his new book – “The Bad Christian’s Manifesto” – this would be good to read during Lent. Dave Tomlinson, author of How to be a bad Christian, thinks that a lot of our overly religious, formal ideas of God need to be reinvented – and a lot of our spirituality, too. What does it look like to live well and die happy – from an unapologetically generous Christian point of view? Join Dave as he considers virtues, vices, friendship, morality, mortality – and how to make a sacrament of anything from cigars to chocolate.

Contact Lesley on 01252 820537 or revdlesley@gmail.com to find out more.

Oscar Romero Quote

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Amen. “

Vision Day at St John’s

On Sunday, Steve Cox kindly came back to St John’s – helping us with our thinking and considering what has happened since our first Vision Day in June last year. He preached and reminded us of this quote by Archbishop Oscar Romero:

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Amen.   “

 

We had about an hour after the service to think about what there has been to celebrate since Steve last joined us and whether our priorities were still the same (praying for growth and children and families) or whether we needed to change our priorities at this point. Below are the results of our brainstorming:

What do we have to celebrate at St John’s?

  • We have great publicity – on the boards and by email and in the local papers.
  • There are more young people and families coming to St John’s.
  • We are praying and our prayers are being answered.
  • The Sumner room is being redecorated and modernised.
  • We have a building that can be a community building now.
  • The welcome we give is better.
  • More people are staying for coffee – not rushing off.
  • We have teenagers in the Parish who are engaging.
  • At Baptisms the families and their friends and relatives are so much more engaged.
  • More people are coming forward for Confirmation
  • There is a greater unity in the congregation
  • Messy Church has been hugely successful
  • The Christmas Cards were wonderful – everyone in the Parish received an invitation and consequently the Christmas Services were popular
  • We are looking for apprentices for every job in the church (not necessarily finding them YET)
  • Numbers of people attending the services has grown and the number of children has increased.

What are our priorities?

  • Prayer – after Easter we will restart our “Praying for Growth” we will meet at various times and also send round the liturgy by email so all can pray.
  • Growing Younger (focus on children, families and teens).
    • Contemplative Prayer for Teens
    • Create a Children’s Corner
    • Continue with the things we are already doing
    • Perhaps move to a monthly All-age Service.
    • Make sure that we always do what we say we are going to do – stability of services.
    • Pray for more people to do ministry

So we were very encouraged indeed by how much there is to celebrate – we hadn’t realised that there are so many good things that God is doing. And we decided that we should maintain the priorities we have – maintaining the same course as it seems to be bearing fruit already. Thanks be to God!

Baptism of Christ

We invited back to our churches ll those who had been baptised or confirmed in 2014:

We thank God for those who were baptised in our Parish in 2014:

at St Georges:

Alfie William Arthur Yeomans

Chloe Grace Hill

Elle Holly Basley

Erin Macy Langham

Florence Ann Aggie Burling

Harry Joseph Panton

Issac Jacob Daniels

Ruby May Hill

 

at St Johns:

Bella-Rose Blanch

Dylan James David Bond

Emme Nicola Pickles

Harriet Alexa Allibone

Penelope Ada Rowe

 

at St Marks:

Andrew Maxwell Robertson

Ben Dominic Cabrera

Benjamin James Taylor

Bethany Rose Taylor

Holly Gabrielle Flanagan

Isabel Louise Cabrera

Isabella Jane Featherstone

Jack Joshua Browne

Jaiden Aston Bowes

Kate Alexandra Sowden

Lucas Tommy Bowes

Lylah-May Bowes

Mason Olly Bowes

Mollie Elizabeth Helen Burton

Poppy Stella Rae Searle

Sofia Elizabeth Bainbridge

Thomas Asher Sowden

Toby Joseph Johnson

William Edward Ronald Parris

William James Best

 

We thank God for those from our Parish who were confirmed in 2014:

 Confirmed at Guildford Cathedral:

from St George’s:

Bayley Hobbs

Benjamin Grafham

Katie Campbell

Milo Kyle

Oliver Valentine

Tobias Kyle

 

from St John’s

Susan Allibone

 

from St Mark’s

Thomas Sargent

 

Baptised and Confirmed at Guildford Cathedral:

from St George’s:

Jamie Adam Finlayson

Julie Erin Mansfield

Lucy Jane Finlayson

Sarah Anne Small

 

from St John’s:

Joanne Elaine Richardson

Oliver Richard Pendle

 

from St Mark’s:

Deborah Louise Pearce-Simmonds

Jasmine Chelsea Flanagan

 

Here are the photos thanks to Alison Ridgeon and Lesley Shatwell