Farnham and Villages Helpline

A new Farnham and Villages Coronovirus helpline has been set up: 01252 745446 or help@farnhammaltings.com.

This is co-ordinating help across the area. If you can offer help in any way, please email volunteers@farnhamaltings.com.

If you are an organisation which is offering help, email organisers@farnhamaltings.com to be added to the list of groups which can help so that we can make sure the whole area is covered and co-ordinated.

Farnham helplineFarnham helpline 2

Sign up for the new COVID-19 research app

Covid Symptom Tracker, a new app, has been launched by Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals and King’s College London university  to try to understand more about the way COVID-19, or Coronavirus, is manifesting itself and why some people get the disease more severely than others. It also hopes to map where outbreaks are happening.

There are fake apps and scams around but this one is genuine and everyone who can is encouraged to sign up for it at https://covid.joinzoe.com/

All you have to  do is spend a minute each day answering quick questions, even if you feel well.

By doing this you can contribute to research on COVID-19 in partnership with leading scientific institutions.

Note, you are advised to check the access preferences you give the app. If you untick any, check again every day.

Sharing peace remotely

Alan is putting together a service which will be available online for Sunday. We’d like everyone to be able to share the Peace, even though we have to be far from each other physically.

If you would like to, please record yourself saying ‘Peace be with you’ and send it to Alan.

This is straightforward on a smartphone but if you don’t have one it is easy to do on the computer. If it is not obvious where the camera is on your computer, do a search for ‘Camera’ and it will show you where your webcam is. Press the ‘video’ button to ensure you are on video mode, and when you are ready, just press it again to record. When you have recorded yourself, press ‘stop’ (probably the same button you pressed to start it). The video will save to your ‘Pictures’ file, probably in a folder called ‘Camera Roll’, but it should be obvious. Then send it to Alan.

May the peace of God be with us all.


Picture by Mateus Campos Felip on Unsplash.

Latest instructions from the Church about the pandemic

We are urging  everyone to follow the instructions given by the Prime Minister to stay in their homes in a national effort to limit the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

But in a message, the Archbishops and Bishops have called on the Church to “continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable”.

It follows the announcement by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson of sweeping restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

It means all Church of England churches will close with immediate effect in line with the Government’s instructions. There will also be no Church weddings or baptisms.

Funerals at the graveside or in crematoriums can still take place, but only in line with the Prime Minister’s statement.

In a joint statement the bishops said: “In the light of the Government’s measures, announced by the Prime Minister … we urge everyone to follow the instructions given.

“We will give a fuller statement of advice as soon as possible. Let us continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable, and build our communities, even while separated.”


For information on online support from the Church, click here.

Food parcels needed for Frimley Park staff

We have heard via Hale Community Centre that Frimley Park Hospital is very short of food supplies/snacks to keep the staff going while working their shifts (especially in A7E Respiratory Wards where most staff are, also the Midwife team are very low on team members and food supplies).  

Also, if anyone can provide food parcels for Frimley Park staff for when they get home from their shift as they are suffering with the lack of supplies available at supermarkets and not being able to get there at the best time.

The hospital are only allowed SEALED AND WRAPPED PACKETS (ie, not ones you have prepared yourself but bought ones) in the building and for nurses/doctors to take home, and food parcels should be wrapped in a carrier bag or similar with a label on if there is a preference as to which department/team people would like it to go

One of the people from Hale Community Centre is arranging to drop off some items for staff this week. Is anyone able to bring items to the Community Centre on Tuesday between 10am and 2pm it would be much appreciated. There will be a box just outside the front door so you don’t have to come in.|But please don’t come if you suspect you have coronavirus! Stay indoors!

Loving Kindness – a meditation for when Mother’s Day is complicated

Lesley Shatwell writes:

I won’t now be leading this service on Sunday morning at St Mark’s, but I especially wanted to reach out to as many people as possible – particularly those who find Mother’s Day complicated.

As you read this, I imagine you playing a little bit of gentle music (my choice is Bach Double Violin Concerto, second movement – but please yourself!).  The main thing is to focus on yourself and God’s love for you as an individual.  God sees you as an individual, not “just a mother” or “just a child of a mother”.  God sees you as you in your wonderful individual uniqueness.

1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

A service of Loving Kindness

Matt 11:28-30
Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Let us bring to Jesus all that which is troubling us today.

God welcomes you here this morning.

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

I welcome you, knowing that you are all very brave.  Mother’s Day is complicated for so many people and for so many reasons.

And whatever your reason for being here this morning, know that God loves you.

Whatever anyone might say, whatever hurt and pain you carry, whatever sadness you may have caused another – GOD LOVES YOU

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Rom 8: 38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.
May all above,
And those below,
Those around,
And within,
Seen and unseen
throughout the Universe,
without exception,
be well and free from harm.

May all in the six directions (north, south, east, west, up and down)
and at all points in the in-between without exception,
as far as space and time extend be safe and well.
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow.
May all be free from whatever limits their realization of true happiness.
May they dwell in the Love, Compassion and Joy of God.
And may God hold us all in the golden light of loving kindness.

Preparation: – sit comfortably and rest your hands gently.  Allow your breathing to slow as you relax.

Bring your attention to yourself

May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I feel safe.
May I live my life with ease.

Bring your attention to someone you love, one you care deeply for

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Bring your attention to someone who cares deeply for you,

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you

We are coming to the end of our meditation now, so gradually become aware of where you are, your weight in the chair and the world about you …

Imagine that we can say the grace together:

The grace of our lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God and
the fellowship of the holy spirit
be with us all
now and forever.

Thought for the Day

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  Mark 8:35

 When I preach I usually preach on the Gospel set for the day, but today I feel called to preach on this passage.

This week has seen a remarkable transformation in our country, and in other countries around the world.  At the start of the week most things were happening pretty much as normal.  Then things changed rapidly.

On Monday Lesley and I felt ill, and have self diagnosed with Covid-19 (with current advice no one else is going to do so) and are now self isolating.

On Friday two of the boys came home from uni, so we will be self isolating for 14 days from then (unless the advice changes again).

By Friday most things were shut down.

And yet…

  • We read about young people partying because they have no reason to be scared of it (not strictly true – but perceptions matter) .
  • The Blitz Spirit is invoked, as though standing up to the virus is similar to standing up to bombing.
  • People with second homes away from the cities are going to stay there, where the risk of infection is perhaps lower, but perhaps the risk of overloading the NHS should the virus spread in those areas (the risk being higher now that lots of people from many different places are moving in).

What do all these have in common?  It is people looking at the situation from only one perspective.

My take on today’s reading is that Jesus is telling us that acting on our own selfish wants is not the way to live a fulfilling life.

It will depend on your definition of “the Gospel”, but I believe that the Good News that Jesus is calling us to is “Life in all its fulness“, and that this is achieved by working towards the Kingdom of God, which is working towards making this world the way that God wants it to be.

As a country and a world we have been becoming more and more insular: believing that we control our own destiny.  Death is something which is seen as unnatural for people under 70 (or perhaps older) and has become something we don’t talk about (perhaps we should – note the date of the article – factual information may be out of date).  Yet only a century ago the Spanish Flu killed between 17-50 million people; the two world wars killed about 20 million and 75 million respectively.  Before the creation of the NHS 6% of children were expected to die before they were 1.

For most of history we have known that life was precarious, and that we rely on each other.  We have also known that employment could be precarious, until the rise of the unions, and as their influence wanes we are discovering it again.

And yet this myth persists that we are in charge of our own destiny.  This myth leads us away from the Kingdom of God, where we care for each other.

John Donne wrote: No man is an island, and during this pandemic we seem to be rediscovering this, and rediscovering the Kingdom of God (to be clear, I am not saying that God sent the virus so that this would happen, but when things do happen God can find some good in them, however  bad they may be, as well as comforting those who are suffering).  Let us pray that that sense of the Kingdom of God lasts beyond the current pandemic.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Church in a new form

Today – Sunday, March 22 – we will not be able to go to church, or at least not physically. But the coronavirus forcing the suspension of normal worship does not mean there will be no church – far from it. You can enjoy church from the comfort of your own home online. Some are livestreaming and others have recorded services or sermons.

Here in Badshot Lea and Hale, Margaret Emberson will be livestreaming on Facebook at 10am, playing and singing the hymns that should be being sung at St George’s. Find her here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will lead first national virtual Church of England service, streaming at 8am on local BBC radio stations and online at 9am. The service, including prayers, hymns and a short sermon, will be broadcast online by the Church of England and broadcast on 39 local BBC radio stations and BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship. It will be on the Church of England’s national website.

Bishop Jo, Bishop of Dorking, has recorded a Mothering Sunday message based on the Gospel reading, John 19.25b-27, in which Jesus on the cross asks the disciple whom he loved to take his mother into his home. You can hear and watch her here.

Michael Hopkins, URC minister at The Spire Church in Farnham, Clerk of General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, and a great friend of the parish, has recorded a service for Mothering Sunday which you can access here.

New Inclusive Church, based in Birmingham, will be live online at 4pm with interactive discussions to follow via Zoom. Join them here.

Finally, churches of all major denominations are marking a national day of prayer and action today, particularly remembering those who are sick or anxious and all involved in health and emergency services.  Everyone is invited to light a candle in their window at 7p.m. on Sunday “as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ”. A short act of worship ‘The Light Shines in the Darkness’ is available here courtesy of Fr Craig Huxley-Jones.


Lamentation for a time of Crisis

Richard Rohr is one of my (Stella’s) favourite theologians so you will find him appearing here regularly, particularly because he has some pertinent ideas about how to cope at this difficult time. Here are today’s thoughts from the Centre for Action and Contemplation. Do sign up so that they can be delivered straight to your inbox.

Intelligently responding to the coronavirus demands that we access resources of physical, emotional and spiritual resilience. One practice Christianity has developed to nurture resilience is lamentation. Prayers of lamentation arise in us when we sit and speak out to God and one another—stunned, sad, and silenced by the tragedy and absurdity of human events. . . Without this we do not suffer the necessary pain of this world, the necessary sadness of being human.

Walter Brueggemann, my favorite Scripture teacher, points out that even though about one third of the Psalms are psalms of ‘lament,,  these have been the least used by Catholic and Protestant liturgies. We think they make us appear weak, helpless, and vulnerable, or show a lack of faith. So we quickly resort to praise and thanksgiving. We forget that Jesus called weeping a ‘blessed’ state (Matthew 5:5) and that only one book of the Bible is named after an emotion: Jeremiah’s book of ‘Lamentation’.

In today’s practice, Reverend Aaron Graham reflects on the elements found in prayers of lament. I hope that you will find in his words and in the text of Psalm 22 a way to voice your own complaints, requests, and trust in God, who is always waiting to hear. We need to be reminded that our cries are not too much for God. [God] laments with us. In fact, [God] wants us to come to the [Divine Presence] in our anger, in our fear, in our loneliness, in our hurt, and in our confusion. Each lamenting Psalm has a structure;

  • They begin with a complaint. . . that things are not as they should be.
  • They turn to a request. God, do something! Rescue me! Heal me! Restore me! Show mercy!
  • Laments end with an expression of trust. Laments end with the reminder that God is setting things right, even though it often seems so slow. It is right for our laments to turn towards a reminder that God is in control and about the business of righting all things made wrong. [1]

Consider praying these words found in Psalm 22, or choose another passage of lament. Before you pray, ask God to speak to you. . .

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
(Psalm 22:1-5).