Badshot Lea Christmas Lights switch on

23561399_1517829351636802_4747106213135004656_nCome to at St George’s on 20 November between 17:00 and 18:30 to celebrate the switching on of the Christmas Lights. There will be hot dogs, hot chocolate and mulled wine available to buy. The switch on of the lights will be at 6pm and in between there will be music from the Sea Cadets, the School Choir and the Church Choir. We will finish at 6.30pm.
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An Advent Reflection

“…and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the Child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, the were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the Child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:9b-11

I think it’s fair to say that the majority of folk today don’t know what to ‘do’ with Advent. It seems to have become subsumed into ‘commercial Christmas’, the time of frenetic activity that we have allowed Christmas to become. ‘Advent’ only gets mentioned with ‘Calendar’, and most of those are filled with chocolates that bear no connection to what the Season is really about. In the not too distant past, Advent was observed as a penitential season, rather like a mini-Lent, when we call to mind our own mortality, and reflect on how we are through God’s word in the Bible. They can be challenging and uncomfortable words. However, there is a great undercurrent of longing and hope, pointing to the great day when God, through Jesus Christ, will come again and draw all things into perfection.

The verses from Matthew’s Gospel are often seen as justification for giving Christmas gifts to one another, one that our consumer culture has fully hooked onto, and hijacked Advent in the process. But…. take a look at those verses again, and notice that the Wise Men didn’t give gifts to one another. They brought gifts for the child Jesus, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They gave the very best and costly gifts that they could. They were extravagant. Three gifts that symbolise Royalty and Priesthood, fit for a King and God.

Can I encourage you to join me, and take time out during Advent, even if it’s just a few moments somewhere in your busy day? Let’s consciously pause, and take stock of what we are preoccupied with during this Advent. Is it the shopping? Worrying about how your bank balance will fair? The relentless Christmas activities and services? Or something else…?

Join the Wise Men in your imagination, and reflect on the joy and wonder that they experienced, allowing it to turn into prayer. Take time out to let yourself be a precious gift to Jesus. No wrapping, no tinsel, just you: become preoccupied with Him. Let’s ask God to refresh our Advent: for us to ponder on the Gift who came; who will come again; and who comes to us now. And then, together, we can celebrate the perfect Christmas. Do share your thoughts with me, I’d love to hear how Advent is for you!

Craig Nobbs

Advent 2017 events

Advent Quiet DayThe Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale are hosting a Quiet Morning on Sat 2nd Dec at St John’s Church, Hale Road, Hale GU9 9RP from 9:45am for 10, until 12:30pm entitled Wait: seeking the spirit of Advent. Craig Nobbs will be leading us in reflections that morning, helping us to pause and remember that Advent isn’t about tinsel and shopping but something far richer.

 

 

Exploring faith through art

 

Also, for Advent this year we are “Exploring Faith through Art” – a time of looking at some artwork on the themes of the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Flight to Egypt and discussing how it informs our faith. There will be refreshments, discussion and a chance to try doing some art for those who want to. It is at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, Upper Hale, GU9 0LT on three Mondays 4,11 and 18 December 19:30-21:00

To find out about either of these events contact Lesley revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org or 01252 820537.

The Orthodox Heretic

I have just started rereading this book for our book group, and whilst I remembered many of the “parables”, I had forgotten the introduction.

In it Peter Rollins explains that the purpose of the book is not to provide answers, but to pose questions (I paraphrase).  And that the point of these questions is to change our behaviour, not to gain our assent to some ideas.  He goes on to point out that so often people will assent to an idea, but then behave as though they don’t believe it; for example saying how terrible materialism is, but then living in a materialistic way.

Amen!

More thoughts on Remembrance

I recently posted some thoughts on Remembrance Sunday, and yesterday I had some more that I thought worth sharing.

In the previous article I commented on an article by Simon Jenkins, and he suggested that we should make next year the last Remembrance Sunday because too many use remembering as a means to keep past hurts alive.  However, it struck me that the problem is not keeping the memory alive, it is keeping the animosity alive.

Desmond Tutu has written a book on Forgiveness with his daughter Mpho.  This puts forward a four step approach to forgiveness, summarised here:

Telling the Story
Naming The Hurt
Granting Forgiveness
Renewing/releasing the relationship

It strikes me that at Remembrance the difficulties come because we are good at the first two, but don’t always move on to the third or fourth.

I would suggest that until we have mastered those two steps as well the nursed grievances will remain whether or not we abolish Remembrance Day.

Prudence the Piggy went to HSBC

Prudence the pig visited HSBC Bank in Farnham last Thursday to ask the bank to stop investing in fossil fuels and instead put its money into renewable energy.

Prudence bore the signatures of members of the churches of St George’s, St John’s and St Mark’s in the parish of Badshot Lea and Hale, and was presented to the bank by the Reverends Lesley and Alan Crawley, joint rectors in the parish, along with parishioners Helena and David Walker and Sorrell Price.

Lesley Crawley explained that the pig was a petition and was part of the Big Shift campaign by the charity Christian Aid to ask the banks to change where they invested their customers’ money and to put this money into renewable energy for the sake of the planet.

She told a representative of HSBC: “We want the bank to divest from fossil fuels and invest in something either neutral or good to help counter climate change.”

HSBC agreed to accept the petition and to send it to head office, where it will join others from around the UK.

Rev’d Crawley added: “Laura Mead, the regional co-ordinator at Christian Aid, contacted all the banks in Farnham to ask them to accept the Big Shift petition, but HSBC was the only one who would receive us.”

For more information on Christian Aid’s Big Shift campaign, visit www.christianaid.org.uk/campaigns

Stella Wiseman

Reading the Bible

Today’s post was inspired by Pray as You Go (not there for long), and by last Wednesdays  group discussion on the Bible.  The reading was Luke 16:9-15, and began:

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

This surprised me as it was a memorable phrase, which I did not remember!

Looking it up I discovered that it follows on from the Parable of the Unjust Steward, so when I usually read/hear it it is in a particular context.  The words are the same, but the context is different (not that the unjust steward is an easy parable to interpret).

It isn’t in the same league as theatre bill boards (see here), but reading something out of context can give a misleading perception.

The question then comes – how do we use the Bible without taking it out of context?

Remembrance Sunday

This coming Sunday is Remembrance Sunday, and this morning I read this by Simon Jenkins.

For many clergy Remembrance Sunday is a struggle – how to remember the fallen with dignity, whilst remembering what has happened and wanting to say “never again”, often in the context of military parades.  The last thing that many of us would want to do is to preside over “a validation of war by embracing its horrors in religiosity”.

However, my experience in church is that when we struggle to achieve that balance it is welcomed.  Whether that is a generational thing, as in many churches, including ours, there are still people who can remember the war, I don’t know.  And of course, although Remembrance focuses on the two world wars, there have been many conflicts since, and many killed or injured.

If I were to be provocative I might ask whether the problem is that we don’t remember the more recent conflicts enough!  People under 70, which includes most politicians, have no experience of a “big” war.  Perhaps if our politicians had, or we Remembered better the smaller wars, there would be less inclination to solve our problems by military means.

Serving the Villages North of Farnham: Badshot Lea, Hale, Heath End & Weybourne