Prayer – a very personal view

As those of you who come along to Family Praise will witness, my approach to prayer is not always conventional – I’ve used paper plates, bounced tennis balls, shouted, used different voices, threaded beads and thrown around balloons.     In my own prayer life,  I have ‘chats’ with God,   sometimes  I rant at him, I love praising him – but quiet, regular, devotional prayer is a struggle for me– so I was very interested in the recent ‘Teaching on Prayer’.

The first week, Alan spoke about the ‘Occasional Offices’ – these were new to me and seemed quite formal.    Yet participating made me feel part of something bigger and there was an awareness of something ancient.  It would not be something I personally would use regularly on my own, but I can appreciate that the formality will appeal to others.

The second week was much more up my street.   Ignatian Prayer – in my very simple terms, reading a story from the Bible and then using your imagination to put yourself into that place and seeing what meaning or message you are given.  It needs practice, but it is definitely something I will try again.

I feel God gives us our bodies and we prayer can be physical.   In my younger days I was really self conscious and hated doing anything where I might look silly.    Leading Family Praise cured me of that and now some of my favourite hymns are ones with actions.   I even get the urge to wave my hands about during the main service – but restrain myself.  So maybe it was not surprising that the session on Body Prayer was my favourite.   There are set movements for different times of the Church year and we went through ‘Letting Go and Being Set Free’, which is for Confession and Absolution.   The movements for the Lord’s Prayer added a dimension I had not known before and I have continued to use them sometimes.

Next came the session on Christian Meditation.    There are many different types, but we were introduced to the John Main tradition.   For those who have tried meditation, maybe as part of a yoga class, this was fairly familiar as it has its origin in those traditions.    The intention is to push aside all the clutter in your mind.  I found that fifteen minutes of silent meditation went amazingly quickly, but at the moment I’m not ready to do this unsupported.   I would be interested to explore other types of Christian meditation though.

The final evening was about ‘Journaling’.  We were encouraged to think about it as writing a letter to God, remembering how special it is to receive a handwritten letter.   We tried it out and I enjoyed the experience – to do it regularly will take some discipline but I’m going to try.

I really enjoyed the five sessions.   It just shows that prayer can be very diverse and not everyone has to communicate with God in the same way. For me, it opened up new ways of praying.    Personally, I think God really doesn’t mind how we pray, all He wants is for us to spend time with Him.

Maxine Everitt

artwork by Alison Ridgeon

Creating Sparks 2016

Each year, the Diocese put on an event, Creating Sparks, for those who work with children.  Kris Lawrence and I have been several times and always find inspiration and affirmation.   I thought that I would share with you some bits, which I found thought provoking and relevant for all of us.

The keynote speaker told us about some research, just off the press, about why we lose so many youngsters – and why some churches keep them.    The research shows that children value being given real roles in the church – including leadership.  They want to feel their voice is heard.  This includes making sure Church is a safe place to ask questions.   However, the thing which hit me was the main finding – the value of relationships.   Young people stay if they make relationships, not just within their own age group, but with the wider congregation.  At St. George’s we’ve been looking at building community – it seems to me this is all the same thing.  Kids are just small people! We all like to make friends but we also need other sorts of relationships.  Many children don’t see their grandparents all that often and many older people miss having children around.   Church is family – so let’s build a strong one!  Let’s value the differences – we recognise not all worship is going to be to everyone’s taste, kids and grown-ups may need different input but if everyone is included somewhere, relationships can blossom.

I went to three workshops, but the same message leapt out at me from each –   A Church with strong relationships is a Church that grows and where the Spirit of the Lord can work.

Maxine Everitt

Fun Parish Quiz Night

Another great ‘Fun Parish Quiz Night’ on Saturday the 7th of May held at St George’s –

A plethora of quizzers from the three churches and beyond gathered to wrack their brains from the topical to the obscure, searching the corners of their minds for the answers on topics from Europe to films, fact or myth, the Olympics and guessing and tasting crisp flavours. There were even chants for our quiz master to sing the answers to the music round, which he obliged, much to the audiences delight. There were lots of laughs with the quick fire final round, dressing in a hat, tie, gloves and glasses before the answer was given!

We want to say ‘Thank You’ to everyone who was a great sport and helped make the event so successful, even with a couple of seats to spare we still took almost £230 for church funds.

Here are some photos

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Carrie & Jason Grafham and Chris & Mat Brown

Walking round the churches

Did you know there are over two hundred references to walking in the Bible? This quote is from Proverbs – “When you walk your steps will not be impeded; and if you run you will not stumble”

Walking is very good for us!

A small group of us are going to walk around the three churches in our parish on Saturday afternoon 28th May. We will start at 2:30 in the car park at St. Georges, walk via Badshot Lea Road and Monkton Lane to St. John’s. Then up Upper Hale Road to St Marks and down Alma Lane, Upper and Lower Webourne Lanes, back to St Georges. This is just over 7 kilometres.

If you enjoy walking, and chatting, come along and join us – for all or part of the walk.
If you want more information phone me on 01252 409124 or email embersonmargaret@ gmail.com

See you there!

Margaret Emberson

My Licensing as LLM

“For Reader [Licensed Lay Minister], one should be appointed after he[she] has been carefully proved; no babbler, nor drunkard, nor jester; of good morals, submissive, of benevolent intentions, first in the assembly at the meetings on the Lord’s Day, of a plain utterance, and capable of clearly expounding, mindful that he[she] assumes the position of an Evangelist …” This comes from “The Apostolic Church Order” which was published before 200 AD. Readers (LLMs) have been around for a good few hundred years, although it wasn’t until 1969 when women were first licensed.

I have been studying for the last three years so that I can be licensed to minister in this parish. At times it has seemed a very long time indeed and now, at last, on 25 June I will be licensed by Bishop Andrew at St Peter’s Farnborough together with my two fellow students and perhaps others renewing their license for this diocese. I will have completed three years of training in topics as diverse as Christian Ethics, how to prepare and give a sermon, Bible Studies – hermeneutics (Old and New Testaments – and a bit of the Apocrypha!), Church History, Mission and Evangelism (didn’t enjoy that one much), Doctrine – that was probably my favourite – oh and Spirituality and Pastoral Theology. And in my spare time, I’ve been attending church!

So I am coming to the end of this part of my studies (I have another four years within the system still because the Church of England doesn’t let anyone loose that quickly, there’s no knowing what I might say to you!). Alan and I have been discussing my future role within the parish, particularly because I won’t be the only newcomer in July: Hannah will be joining us as curate. As a lay minister, I have a certain degree of flexibility about my ministry, so I am still on a voyage of discovery. I am interested in creative worship and different ways of exploring God – prayer stations, labyrinth, music, art, storytelling, play. God calls every one of us. And God gives us gifts to serve Him and to share with others. We are happiest and at our most alive when we walk within our God-given-gifts. God has called me to become a Licensed Lay Minister here and I am so excited to discover where He leads me in my ministry.

But for the time being, I invite you all to come to my licensing:

St Peter’s Farnborough, Saturday 25 June, 5 for 5.30 pm.

If you can’t get to my licensing, perhaps I will see you in church on Sunday 26 June when I will be racing round the whole parish to see as many of you as I can at each of our churches. At St Mark’s we will be sharing a buffet lunch at 12 noon – please come along.

Licensing, hum … I suppose it will be proved that I’m no babbler and I think my morals are good and I certainly have benevolent intentions.

Lesley Shatwell

 

Autopsies of dead churches

I’ve read an article about what causes churches to have to close their doors. I found it very interesting. It feels a bit macabre, especially as it is a book review of Thom Rainer’s book “Anatomy of a Deceased Church.”  It is based on 14 ‘autopsies’ of dead churches, which does sound very depressing! However, autopsies are essentially there for the living so that we can thrive, and anyway, so many churches are in decline at the moment, we need to know what not to do! The key points that struck me were these:

  1. Slow erosion is the worst type of decline for churches, because the members have no sense of urgency to change.
  1. The most pervasive and common thread of our autopsies was that the deceased churches lived for a long time with the past as hero.
  1. More than any one item, these dying churches focused on their own needs instead of others.
  1. Members of the dying churches really didn’t want growth unless that growth met their preferences and allowed them to remain comfortable.
  1. When the church is engaged in meaningful prayer, it becomes both the cause and the result of greater church health.
  1. None of the members asked what they should be doing; they were too busy doing what they’ve always done.
  1. The dying churches, at some point in their history, forgot their purpose.
  1. Yes, reversal is possible, but God usually waits for a willing leader who will find willing people.

So. Let us look to the future, not to the past. Let us not do things just because they have always been done and let us have a vision for the future and most of all, let us pray!

Can you help identify these figures?

At St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, painted on the walls of the chancel is a unique piece of local history. About a hundred years ago, Kitty Milroy, a local artist, painted local people and local scenes in murals. The paintings now are in a precarious condition. There is curling of the paint and paint losses and areas where the paintings have been rubbed over many years resulting in a powdering of the paint. In order to save this piece of our local heritage, St Mark’s needs to apply to various organizations for grants in order to stabilise the loose paint as conservation is the first and most important goal. Once this has been done, then filling and restoration can take place hopefully with further funding. But you may be able help.

Nick Seversway, a local restorer of paintings says, “What we need to do to put a case for grants is to gather as much info as is possible and this is where you come in. There are some names linked to the figures, but we would love to know exactly who posed for which picture. Also there was once a huge amount of preliminary drawings and paintings does anyone know what happened to them? The biggest mystery is Kitty Milroy herself. She was the daughter of the Vicar of Carisbrooke whose mother moved the family to The Oast House between 1902 and 1911 after his death. Does anyone know where Kitty trained in art? Did she paint any other pictures?

All and any info will help in our bid to save this unique piece of local history.

I am a restorer of 35 years’ experience working locally and in London. This work is no run of mill amateur work. It is simply rendered but well drawn, perfectly set in its patterned surround and a huge undertaking for one very talented woman.”

If you have any information, please contact:

Nick Seversway

The Art House

Nick.seversway@ntlworld.com

07954693191

Photograph by Richard Heath

Christian Aid Week 2016: The week we love every neighbour

Christian Aid week will take place from 15th – 21st May this year. Laura Mead, Surrey’s Regional Co-ordinator for Christian Aid, highlights the plight of people in Bangladesh, like Feroza, who will benefit from the funds raised.

We believe Jesus calls us to love others as our neighbours; and not just the ones next door or at the end of the street.  We’re all made in God’s image, which means the whole world is our neighbourhood, and every person in it is precious.

Every May, over 20,000 churches across the UK and Ireland come together in a remarkable way to raise money and help transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. Volunteers from the churches in the Bourne Parish will be part of this huge effort in collecting donations. Through the funds raised during Christian Aid Week, people in developing countries can be given a safe place to call home and big strides made towards a world where everyone has enough food to eat.

This year, Christian Aid Week tells the inspiring story of families living on the low-lying islands on the Brahmaputra River, Bangladesh, who have a daily battle against the devastating and catastrophic effects of climate change. Bangladesh’s geography, with large rivers and monsoon climate, make it incredibly vulnerable to natural disasters, including floods and cyclones. Bangladesh is home to 160 million people, (four fifths of whom live on less than £1.30 a day), making it one of the most densely populated countries on earth.

Every year, when the snow melts on the Himalayas, the Brahmaputra River swells and sends water into homes, spoiling crops and ruining families’ possessions.  Homes can be destroyed, children swept away in rapid water and the land on which poor communities’ lives are built, washed away.  The people living beside this precarious river live in constant fear, and never feel safe with a place to call home. Christian Aid believes that the most vulnerable do not have to be engulfed by the tide of poverty; however vast these problems may be, there are solutions.

Christian Aid partner, GUK, works with these poor rural communities.

Feroza’s story

GUK is supporting families suffering from the consequences of annual floods, by providing them with earth plinths to raise their homes 6 – 8ft above water. This creates a safe place for them to rebuild their home and keep livestock.  They are being given new seeds, so they can grow essential crops.

Feroza, a mother of three, has seen her home swept away seven times. She now has a flood-proof house and the chance of creating a safe future for her family.  A Christian Aid Home Safety Package (£250) has provided her with a goat, seeds and a wormery, all of which will give her a long-term income. For the first time in her life she is free from fear and her family are thriving. She said: “I had a dream but I did not have the ability to fulfil that dream. Now I can think about how to go further. Before it was just a daydream.”                (use for pull-out quote)

You can help transform the lives of our global neighbours in Christian Aid Week by donating in the envelope dropped through your door, or online at www.caweek.org, calling 08080 006 006, or texting ‘SAFE’ to 70040 to give £5. 

Have you visited St John’s this week?

“a wave of prayer …”

In our parish of Badshot Lea and Hale, in Surrey, we decided to answer the call to prayer with an art installation, featuring work from artists based in our parish or with a very strong connection to the parish.

From this initial thought, the idea took hold.  “I’ll make scones, it will give a real English summer’s day feel.”  “And jam, we must have lots of jam.”
“What sort of music do you want?  I’m sure the choir would like to sing …”

And so it continued until suddenly we had a full parish event!  We called upon artists aged between 6 and 92 to give their own interpretation of a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer and we have a wonderful, eclectic response.

After some nervous moments … would the art be ready?  Would anyone come?  Finally we opened our doors on Sunday 8 May.  And people came, viewed the exhibition, ate scones and listened to the music.
Here are some of their comments:
“Beautiful installation, thank you for all the work that has gone into this.  Inspiring”
“Great idea, great show – could they stay here?”
“It’s good to be reminded of the Lord’s Prayer at work in our lives.”

St John’s can seem quite a deserted place, but that day, I thought the church itself really came to life, got up and danced for joy.  The power of the Lord’s Prayer at work within our community.

And we are going to do it all again this weekend.

Lesley Shatwell
LLM (in training)