Emily and NHOA – the perfect match

Emily, the St Mark’s Edwardian organ, will be up to her old tricks again on Saturday afternoon (January 25) when members of NHOA, the North Hampshire Organists’ Association, give an interactive demonstration of how an organ works and play some of their favourite pieces on her. As NHOA has proved on previous occasions, Emily is a perfect match for them.

NHOA is holding its AGM at St Mark’s at lunchtime and then will open the doors to the general public at 2pm for an organ concert and demonstration. Everyone is welcome, it will be quirky, fun and free.

Pictured above are members of NHOA showing just what goes on inside an organ.

Let’s (barn) dance!

Come and join a traditional family barn dance at St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, on Saturday, February 1, starting at 7.30pm.

The church will resound to the music of the band Dragon Scales and caller Kris Lawrence will prompt dancers to step left and right and do-si-do in what promises to be a sociable, fun-filled evening for all ages. There will also be a light meal provided but please bring your own drinks and snacks.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a dance expert, a complete novice or someone who moves to the left when everyone else moves to the right. It’s great for all ages so come one, come all and bring your friends!

Tickets are £10 adults, £5 children and are available from the parish office – admin@badshotleaandhale.org or 07842 761919 or by visiting one of the three churches: St George’s itself, or the two Hale churches – St John’s and St Mark’s.

 

Calendar meals – or how to raise money and irritate a teenager

You’ve heard of Calendar Girls? Well meet Calendar Meals. There’s a new charity calendar around raising money for the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale and the charity Lupus UK, with each month showing a meal lovingly prepared by a mother for her son, and made into a picture – a face, an animal, a flower.

A sweet idea to encourage a child to eat you might think. No, because the child in question is 16 and rolls his eyes every time his mother dishes up a bit of food art, knowing full well that his she is winding him up and will post a picture of the latest meal on Facebook where it will garner admiring comments.

“You should make a calendar out of these”, was one comment. “Challenge accepted” came the reply and now, as Christmas approaches, the mother, Stella Wiseman, is selling the calendars to make some money for the parish and for Lupus UK. Her son, Robbie Eggleton, continues to roll his eyes.

Stella says: “All the profits are going to the parish and to Lupus UK, a charity which supports people living with Lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease which causes the immune system to produce too many antibodies. My best friend has it and anything that can help support her and teach more people about the disease has got to be good. I’d also like to raise money for the parish to support the work we do in the community.

“Another added benefit is that the calendar simultaneously makes people laugh and the longsuffering Robbie roll his eyes.”

There are two sizes of calendar – 16 x 21cm and 21 x 28cm and they sell for £13 and £15 respectively, including postage and packaging.

So if you fancy eccentric food art to brighten up 2020 and want to support two worthy causes, email admin@badshotleaandhale.org or call 07842 761919 and let us know what size you would like.

Here’s a taster:

 

Special atmosphere and Santa at SHIP party

Families from Sandy Hill met Santa Claus and showed off their dance moves at a party at St Mark’s on the Monday before Christmas (December 23).

The families, from the Sandy Hill Inclusive Partnership (SHIP), enjoyed a party which included table tennis, pool, art and craft, music and dance provided by the performing arts school Boogie Pumps, and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus who brought gifts for all the children and their parents too.

“It was a really special atmosphere,” said Francis from Boogie Pumps, who led the children in a dance session involving hoops, pom poms, baby sharks and a lot of energy and enthusiasm, while the general consensus among the families was that it was “awesome” and “we’ve been spoiled!”.

More than 100 presents were provided for the children following the annual Farnborough Business Park Christmas Gift Drive, collecting brand new toys, clothes, vouchers, make-up and jewellery for some young people. Members of St Mark’s, St John’s and St George’s churches had also donated enough presents for the SHIP adults to take home a bag of gifts each too.

A big thank-you to everyone who gave so generously, and to everyone who helped put on the party, including Waitrose who provided some of the food. It was great fun and a lovely start to Christmas. We are looking forward to other events with SHIP in the new year.

It’s Christmas!

Have you exceeded the speed limit?

Have you cycled on the pavement?

Have you ever knocked on someones door and run away?

Have you activated your burglar alarm without nominating a key holder who can turn it off in your absence?

Have you sung happy birthday to a friend in public without a copyright license?

All of the above are against the law.  Congratulations if you have answered no to all of them!  But…

Have you driven a car before 1976 without a bale of hay?

Are you a man born before 1943?  Did you keep up your longbow practice?

That is the problem with the law – there are so many, including the ones you don’t know about that it is impossible to keep them all.

So what has this got to do with Christmas?  What we are celebrating is the coming of God to earth, but more than that, we are celebrating a whole new way of being right with God.

Lots of religions, and I only haven’t said all except Christianity because I don’t know about all of them, believe that you get right with God by doing the right things, by keeping the “law”.  This was certainly the case with 1st Century Jews who not only had the 10 commandments, but the 613 laws of Moses and others that the pharisees had created to ensure that none of the others were broken – except it wasn’t possible to keep all the laws.

Jesus was born to bring Good News to the world – the good news being that it wasn’t keeping the law that made us right with God.  Instead God loves all of us – whatever we have done – being right with God depends on God – not us.  If you look at the Bible – the only people that Jesus has no time for are those who tell everyone that you have to behave – having created laws which people find impossible to keep, and which they cannot keep themselves, despite perhaps appearing to do so.

Now at this point you might well point me towards a lot of those Christians you hear on the radio telling you about the all the “laws” that you have to keep.  All I can say is that I fundamentally disagree with them.  Unfortunately the press like conflict and the extremes of the Church of England get more press time than the centre.  This parish and the three churches in it are members of Inclusive Church, an organisation whose vision is, in part:

We believe in inclusive Church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality.

God is not a God who is watching over you, trying to catch you doing something you shouldn’t – adding up the pluses and minuses like some Santa figure trying to figure out if you are “naughty or nice”.  God is a God who wants us all to have life in all its fullness – to live this life in a way that is fulfilling and life giving.  That is the Good News that Jesus was born to bring to us – isn’t that something worth celebrating?

However, this isn’t some excuse for us all to do whatever we want.  If God wants us all to have life in all its fullness then we cannot enjoy our life in such a way that others ability to enjoy theirs is impacted.  If we insist on overheating the planet because we want our creature comforts, then others homes get flooded; if we want to pay less in taxes then those without the ability to earn sufficient to live will suffer; if we refuse to look after refugees, and others less well off than ourselves, then what for their life in all its fullness?  The Jewish scriptures, based on law, defend the rights of the widow the alien and the orphan – how can we basking in God’s love do less?

Of course, if you believe in a God who is trying to catch you out then you will find that a different set of priorities are necessary and you might start telling people how they should behave to be right with God.

No wonder Jesus birth is seen as Good News – now we can all live the lives that he calls us to – lives that allow us and everyone else to enjoy life in all its fullness.  No wonder we are celebrating the incarnation – God with us.  If you aren’t already part of it I invite you to join this journey of faith and to share in the Good News.

Celebrating on the way to Bethlehem

The villages of Badshot Lea, Hale and Weybourne were visited last Friday evening (December 20) by a host of angels, as well as a crowd of shepherds, sheep, kings, musicians, donkeys and a young couple in search of a place to rest and give birth to a baby.

They were all taking part in A Journey to Bethlehem, a re-enactment of the Christmas story in which two groups walked from St George’s and St Mark’s to St John’s, playing music and singing carols on the way. Along the two routes they met angels, shepherds, inn keepers and kings and followed a star – and two donkeys, kindly lent for the occasion by Folly Oak Donkeys – until they reached a stable constructed outside St John’s where baby Jesus was lying in a manger.

This was followed by a celebration in the church in which children recounted what they had seen on the journey and Cllr Alan Earwaker, Farnham’s Deputy Mayor, joined everyone in singing carols and playing the kazoo, before the evening ended with prayers, hot chocolate, mulled wine and mince pies.

“This was the first time we had tried A Journey to Bethlehem and what a wonderful celebration it was!” said Lesley Crawley. “It was lovely to see children and adults alike dressed up as some of the characters we read about in the Bible at Christmas, and to see everyone having such a joyful time. We are living in an age of division and anxiety and the story of God coming to earth in the form of a child, born into poverty in an occupied country, is one that can bring us hope and light. We wish everyone that hope and light this Christmas.”

Hangnail – a human issue

Many thanks again to the fantastic group of University for the Creative Arts students who were filming downstairs in the St Mark’s Community Centre earlier this month.

The film, Hangnail, examines that very human issue insecurity and deals with Toby (played by Julian Salmon), a man on a date whose anxiety and fear of failure take him over to the point when he literally tears himself apart. We caught up with Location Manager Izzie Gough after the end of the filming to ask her more about the production.

“George Lowe, who wrote and directed the film, saw it as a metaphor for the breakdown of a person,” she said. “It’s rather gross with all the special effects – fake blood etc – but it is a way to look at insecurity.”

The film is a ‘B Project’ – a five-minute film which UCA Film students create in their final year at the university, prior to producing a final graduation film. “The B Project films tend to be our passions because we can do more than one role and we have more freedom. They are also usually have smaller crews than the graduation films but this one had a lot of interest and the crew is large.”

As well as Izzie, Julian and George, Hangnail has been put together by Dylan Stevens (colour grader and extra); Stefan Gutierres-Yildirim (first assistant director); Josh Matthews (editor/continuity); Steve Adams (sound); Magdelana Rak (director of photography); Hannah Clayforth (first assistant camera); Katie Puddifoot (gaffer); Erin Morgan (grip); Olivia Loader (special effects); Callum Marshall (costume); Cristina Iorgulescu (prop/art department); Nicola Rhodes (production designer); Mariya Lilova (producer);

Izzie added: “Thank you for all your help and hospitality with the film. I know it’s a weird one and the content may have been questionable to the Church [no – it’s about humanity and our weaknesses, so right up our street!] –  it is great that the parish is open and accepting. I really think that your openness to our film and the set dressing made the difference between us being able to make a ‘student’ film and us being able to make a great one!”

It has been our pleasure (and the downstairs cloakroom looks better than it did before!). The film will be out next year and we look forward – with some trepidation because of the fake blood and guts! – to seeing it.

Pictured above: Julian Salmon being filmed by Magdelana Rak; Magdelana Rak (holding camera) and Hannah Clayforth; It’s not real blood, honest – Callum Marshall.

When Christmas hurts

Christmas is not always a time of joy and peace. There are years when you cannot celebrate, when grief, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, illness, or other life events mean that the season seems dark or empty. Sometimes it may simply be that the commercialism and busyness of Christmas is too much.

Join us then for The Longest Night – a service for when Christmas hurts, at St John’s Church, Hale Road, GU9 9AB, on Wednesday, December 18, at 7.30pm.

This simple service gives time for peace and reflection and offers words of comfort and support for those dealing with grief and hardship.

Everyone is welcome, whatever their beliefs.

Picture by Anne Nygard on Unsplash

 

Advent 3 – John the Baptist

Matthew 11:2-11

What is the source of John’s question?

  • Was it asked on his own behalf, or on behalf  of others?
  • Was it a question of impatience – when was Jesus going to start judging, or was it one of misunderstanding the role of Messiah.
  • Did John know Jesus was the Messiah before he was imprisoned?  Or is it dawning on him?  This requires that we assume that the author of this pericope did not know Matthew 3:14ff.

The answers Jesus give are oblique.  One approach is to look at the political situation – If Jesus had said “yes” then Herod would have heard this on the rumour mill, and it would have been a direct challenge.  By quoting scripture Jesus can claim Messiahship without upsetting Herod.  

However, in the answers all the evidence of what Jesus is doing involves compassion and healing rather than judgement and condemnation.  John preached divine holiness with divine judgement and destruction – see last weeks winnowing fork and axe – Jesus preaches divine holiness and love.  Perhaps this is why John is asking – Jesus doesn’t match with his expectation.

Jesus questions about John are in fact a questioning of Herod – again however, without providing Herod with enough evidence to hang him.

a reed shaken by the wind can mean two things

  • a proverb for the commonest sights
  • a weak waverer

Herod’s coins had a symbol of a reed on them, and Herod himself was seen as a waverer.  John was neither of these.  People do not go out into the desert to see either.

soft/luxurious robes were the sign of a courtier – a flatterer of Kings – which was far from John.

Prophets have a message from God and the courage to deliver it.  John was certainly this.

Elijah was expected to return before the Messiah and Jesus gives him this role.

Why was John less that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven?  One interpretation is that “the least in the Kingdom of Heaven means Jesus.  But if all are considered members of the Kingdom of Heaven then John had not seen the crucifixion, the demonstration of the love of God.  As above John has been preaching destruction – hardly Good News – but Jesus preached and then lived out God’s love and all in the Kingdom of Heaven know this.

Christmas celebrations!

Christmas is really getting going here in Badshot Lea and Hale. There were not one, not two but three carol services at the weekend (with help from Badshot Lea Village Infant School and William Cobbett Primary School) as well as our Christmas Carol Extravaganza on Emily the organ plus lunch on Saturday; Post19 holding a Christmas concert at St John’s last week, and Tootsiesthere today.

Tonight there are carols at the Hale Institute at 6.30pm. We will welcome William Cobbett School and Farnham Heath End School to St John’s at the end of the week and of course there is the Worship for All Carol Service this Sunday at 11.30am at St George’s, are our Crib Services on Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass at each of the churches to see in Christmas and Christmas Day all-age services. Don’t forget Journey to Bethlehem on Friday, leaving St Mark’s and St George’s at 7pm and following the star and the donkeys all the way to St John’s. Dressing up as a Nativity character is optional but encouraged!

Tomorrow, if you need a time of quiet, or if celebrations leave you cold at the moment, we have The Longest Night at St John’s at 7.30pm. A service for those for whom Christmas hurts, or who just need a time of reflection.

All the details are here.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Pictured above and below are Christmas celebrations by Post19.

Post19 Christmas 2019 3

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