A comforting croodle

The Celtic musical tradition of the British Isles is a rich one, with music which has been passed down the generations in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the North East of England, and which has permeated non-Celtic culture. After all, don’t we all sing Auld Lang Syne at new year?

Auld Lang Syne is not the only familiar Celtic tune – there are plenty which most of us can sing along to, something ably demonstrated by the Celtic Croodle which took part at St Mark’s Church last Saturday evening (February 9), thanks to the hard work and talent of Wendy Edwards with support from Frances Whewell.

To croodle means to snuggle together and St Mark’s looked cosy and warm, offering welcome after a wet February day.  We sat around tables while Wendy, accompanied on the piano by Frances, led us on a musical tour of the Celtic parts of the British Isles, encouraging us to join in.

We started and ended in Scotland and en route we learned a little of the background to each song, though sometimes the origins are obscure. So we learned, for instance that the ‘low road’ in Loch Lomon (“O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road, And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye,”) may refer to the tradition that the soul of a dead Scot who died abroad was taken back to rest in Scotland by a secret road; and that Bobby Shafto (a north-eastern song) was an 18th century politician who may well have dandled a baby or two in the hope of improving his reputation (“Bobby Shafto’s gettin’ a bairn/For to dangle on his arm”).

On the trip through Ireland among those we learned and sang about were young Mollie Malone, and an Irish émigré shocked by the fashions and attitudes of 19th-century London, writing back to his true love in a valley near the Mountains of Mourne. In Wales as well as singing along lustily to Land of My Fathers (and not a rugby ball in sight), we listened to Wendy sing beautiful songs including David of the White Rock and we were moved by All through the Night, before hurrying back to Scotland to join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne.

As well as the music, Wendy had provided a light Celtic supper of oatcakes, cheese, cheese and onion ‘sausages’, shortbread and Welsh cakes, which we enjoyed at the interval.

It was a happy, comforting and relaxing evening, an antidote to the February blues that can strike us. It also raised £200 in donations for the Kitty Milroy murals appeal through which we are planning to restore the rare and important murals in the chancel at St Mark’s.

Wendy is holding another musical evening at St Mark’s in May. This one will be a jazz evening in memory of her parents, renowned local journalists and historians Jean and Ted Parratt. It will take place at the church on May 4 from 7.30pm.  A light meal will be included but please bring your own drinks. The evening will also raise money for the Kitty Milroy murals,

Donate a bike, transform a life

If you have a bike you don’t want, or a bike that needs servicing, or you haven’t got a bike and would like one, come along to Bike Start in Browning Barracks, Alisons Road, Aldershot, and in doing so raise money for The Source, a Christian charity which supports young people who are particularly vulnerable or in challenging circumstances.

Bike Start operates on a Monday and Thursday and, as well as servicing bikes either for individuals or to sell them through eBay, Bike Start can teach you how to maintain a bike. It trains groups and individuals in bike maintenance skills and will run charity days and team bonding days for organisations.

The Source works with 11- to 25-year-olds who are isolated, vulnerable, struggling at school, in trouble with the law, have challenging family relationships, are homeless, in care, live on their own or are young parents. It offers counselling, life coaching, mentoring, anger management programmes and support for young parents.

Ellie Jones, director of The Source, said: “We are so very grateful to everyone who supports BikeStart through donating bikes, buying bikes and coming to us for servicing and repairs.  You have made such a difference to the lives of the young people we support and empower.”

To find out more about BikeStart, donate your old bikes or book your bike service visit www.bikestart.co.uk or call 07596 564428.

 

source bikes

 

 

Top picture by Chris Becker, Unsplash.

Concert for Christian Aid and churches

The Blackwater Valley Wind Quintet are staging a concert of classical music in aid of Christian Aid and the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale at St John’s Church, Hale, on Saturday, February 16, at 7.30pm.

There will be a varied programme which will include pieces by Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Schumann and Gordon Jacob, and alongside the Blackwater Valley Wind Quintet will be other local performers.

Tickets (£10, £8 concessions, to include refreshments) are available from 07730009317 or 07519740607 or by emailing g.weston321@btinternet.com. Tickets may be available at the door.

Please help us find the relatives of these people buried at St John’s, Hale

Some of the gravestones in St John’s churchyard have become very unsafe and we are worried that someone might be hurt as a result. The maintenance of gravestones is the responsibility of the families of the loved ones, however, if we are worried about them from a safety point of view we have the right to lay the stones flat. We don’t really want to do this and so we urgently would like to contact the relatives of the following people as we believe that their gravestones fall into this category.  If it is you, or you know who they might be please would you let me know?

Ethel Matthews
Fredrick Lipscomb
Henry Tompkins
Harry Beaumont
George Cantwell
Wilfred Park
Eaustania Fagan
Jill Stares
Lotti Raynsford
Ivy Biddle
Charles Stent
Albert Woodhams
Frances Wilkinson
Samuel Bide

Thank-you so much

Lesley Crawley

Have your say on the future of St John’s

As St John’s Church turns 175 this year, we are launching a major improvement and fundraising project and want to know what facilities you would like the church to offer.

Residents and local organisations are invited to complete a short survey to help us learn more about what our community needs and how the church can better provide this.  It can be found by clicking here.

 

St John’s Church is 175

We are going to be celebrating this year with lots of events and activities, we’ll keep you posted here. In the meantime please can you write about what St John’s Church means to you in 175 words and email it to news@badshotleaandhale.org. The writings will be published here so let us know whether you want it to remain anonymous.

Also – please complete our community survey by clicking here

A Celtic Croodle

Everyone is invited to an old-fashioned Celtic singalong at St Mark’s on February 9 from 7.30pm.

The Celtic ‘Croodle’ will trace a journey in song through Scotland, the north-east of England, Ireland and Wales, led by Wendy Edwards, accompanied by Frances Whewell.

There will be a light Celtic supper (oatcakes, cheese, Welsh cakes and shortbread) – bring your own drinks.

To croodle means to snuggle together so come along to snuggle and sing with us, in aid of restoring the Kitty Milroy murals at St Mark’s. All donations gratefully received.

Poverty in plain sight

Poverty is hidden in plain sight in our community. We may live in one of the least deprived parts of the country but there are pockets of real poverty here. In 2015, for instance, Sandy Hill was the most deprived borough in Waverley, especially in measures relating to income, education/skills and health.

Across the UK as a whole, we have seen an increase in the use of food banks, homelessness and rough sleeping, slavery and mental distress. With poverty comes poverty of spirit – self-esteem, isolation, depression. So, what can we do?

On Monday, February 4, Suzette Jones (Open to All / Health and Wellbeing Adviser from the Diocese of Guildford) will be leading a session at St Mark’s, from 7.30-9pm, to discuss this. As well as looking at the issues facing our society, the session will include practical suggestions to help us stand together against poverty. We will look at ways forward both through prayer and other steps we might take.

“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:15-16 (NIV).

For further information, contact Lesely Shatwell, llm.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org

 

Come to Christingle

Come to Christingle on Sunday, February 3, at St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, at 11.30am.

Christingle is a celebration that takes place sometime between the beginning of December and early February.

‘Christingles’ are created out of oranges, sweets and dried fruit stuck in them using cocktail sticks, red ribbon around the oranges, and a candle which is then lit.

The orange represents the world, the red ribbon (or tape) symbolises the love and blood of Christ, the sweets and dried fruit represent all of God’s creations, and the lit candle represents Jesus’ light in the world, bringing hope to people living in darkness.

There are prayers and songs and a lot of fun and it’s aimed at everyone in the family. Come along at 11.30am, join in and also raise money for the charity The Children’s Society. Bring your friends too.

If you want to know more about the service or anything to do with the church call us on 01252 820537 or email revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org

Hear God in the stillness

There are two new services being introduced into the parish in the next few weeks, both of them opportunities to have some stillness and pray.

The first is Said Evensong from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), a service beloved by many but which has declined in popularity in the last few decades. The second is a Taizé service, a simple service based on chants and silence.  They will take place monthly for  a trial period of six months, starting with Evensong on the final Sunday of the month at 5pm at St George’s, Badshot Lea – January 27 is the first one –  and  Taizé on the first Sunday of the month at 6pm at St John’s, Hale, with the first one on February 3.

The idea is to give us a chance to find some stillness so that we may hear God speak. Lesley Crawley says: “It feels so amazing, miraculous even, that God speaks to us ordinary folks and our lives are transformed forever.

“I believe that to experience such things we have to deliberately put ourselves in the way of God. We won’t hear God speaking unless we make time and space to do so. In our parish there is so much going on that sometimes I wonder whether God can accidentally get sidelined; and so we are offering two opportunities each month to have some additional stillness and prayerfulness. These will be located in particular buildings but are for everyone, irrespective of whether you go to a different church, or no church.”

BCP Said Evensong has been chosen by Lesley because it is a service she has loved since she discovered it during her curacy. She says of this discovery: “I loved the BCP, I loved the poetry of the language, I was charmed by the way that words have changed their meaning, and I enjoyed using those words with their old meaning. I found particular words and phrases incredibly challenging or comforting or meaningful – they pulled me into the presence of God. I loved the way that words were paired together like peace and concord, celebrating the depth and range of our language and behind that the diversity of all the peoples with their languages over many centuries who have come together to make our complex and many-faceted nation. The repetition was also helpful – saying almost exactly the same thing each week meant that I could experience the same words that had so blessed me the previous week and I found that those words continued to bless me from then on, week in and week out.”

Taizé has been chosen as a ‘doorway’ through to a closer experience of God. Lesley says: “I find that the experience of chanting enables me to step through the chants into the presence of God. Perhaps it is because I’ve always found it easier to learn things that are sung rather than said. For instance, at school I was rubbish at learning poems but I knew lots of pop songs off by heart! The chants are in various languages (although I tend to stick to the English and Latin chants) but actually language is irrelevant, it is just a tool to step into that place of intimacy with God.”

Craig Nobbs will be leading Said Evensong at 5pm St George’s on Sunday, January 27, and thereafter on the last Sunday of the month. Come along if you love BCP or have never experienced it and be swept along with its beauty.

Lesley will be leading the Taizé service at 6pm at St John’s on Sunday, February 3, and thereafter on the first Sunday of the month.

Lesley adds: “If neither of these services speak to you but something else will help you draw closer to God then please do that, and if you want some help setting something up then please contact me”.

 

New collection to help refugees

If your wardrobes are feeling a bit full, or you are thinking of having a clear out ahead of the spring, fill your bags with clothes and take them to St George’s Church on Friday (January 25) between 3pm and 7pm.

As well as winter clothing, maternity wear and new underwear (nothing XL or XXL) Farnham Help for Refugees needs medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, crutches, walking frames and neck braces; new, unopened painkillers and new toothbrushes and toothpaste. A full list is shown on the poster below. Items will be sorted and shipped to agencies working with refugees both overseas and in the UK.

If you have any strong cardboard boxes that can be closed or have lids – especially removal boxes – they will be very useful, and as it costs £5 to send a box of aid to refugees, financial donations are also welcome on the day.

The group is also looking for volunteers to help sort and pack donations between 1.30pm and 9pm on Friday, January 25, and from 9am to 11am on Saturday, January 26.

If you can help, e-mail farnhamhelpforrefugees@gmail.com.

farnham help for refugees poster

A celebration of gifts

The Epiphany story tells us that the three kings brought three gifts to the infant Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Gold is an obvious one and very useful to a poor family; frankincense seems a little odd but could be used as a perfume; but myrrh? What sort of a gift was that for a tiny child? Perhaps it foretold his death – a bitter gift which yet was a gift for us all.

What are your gifts – your gold, your frankincense, your myrrh? That is what we were all challenged at the start of the Rainbow Epiphany service held at St Mary’s, Quarry Street, Guildford, last week (January 10). We each had to write three gifts on slips of paper and put them in envelopes designed by Dave and Helena Walker from St Mark’s. Then we were asked to decorate the envelopes in whatever way we fancied, and keep them until it was time to offer them to God on the altar.

The gold gift was not so hard – talents such as art, music, being a great cook, a good administrator, a listening ear, you can think of plenty more. Frankincense was the gift of relationship, with God and others, the gift that gives fragrance to our lives.

Then myrrh. The bitter gift, the one we didn’t want. What that gift is for each of us differs. It could be a health problem; it could be a fallow period of life; it could be living conditions; it could be one’s sexuality, in a family or church which is not accepting; it could be being transgender. These are gifts which can cause pain and yet which may  turn out to be gifts of extraordinary power and worth. Such a gift is, in the words of one of the speakers there, “a strange, confusing, awkward, uncomfortable and very un-obvious gift”.

In the service we gave thanks for and celebrated the many gifts of the LGBTI+ community; gifts which enrich the church and the wider world, gifts given by God. It was a moving service and an affirming one, with uplifting music led by Julie Shaw, and one of both great joy and vulnerability, particularly when we heard from several individuals who spoke about their ‘myrrh’ gifts.

For many LGBTI+ people accepting themselves has been hard, and acceptance has been made harder still by the attitude of the church.  “After so many years of making myself unhappy trying to be a straight woman and suppressing many other aspects of my identity, it’s taken me a long time to figure out my identity and to realise that God made me to be the way I am,” said one person, one of the leaders of Kairos, a group which provides a safe space for LGBTI+ people, especially those who are Christian or seeking God.

They concluded: “It’s time to heal from the shame and become confident to love and worship and serve God as whole people, with everything he’s given us, not just bits of ourselves.” The gift of leading others to love, worship and serve God as whole people is a real gift to the church and world.

For Sara, who spoke at St Mark’s last summer, being intersex has been a myrrh gift. She said that the arrival of an intersex child may be treated as something unwanted, but such a child can also be a healing gift. “Our birth reminds all those who feel different, be it our ethnicity, mental health, social status, physical ability…..that we are all wonderfully made in the image of God. Our difference is our gift, like myrrh our presence can heal others, reminding all that being different is not a barrier to living to our full potential, or a barrier to love or to being loved.”

Brian spoke of the importance of us being God’s representatives of righteousness and truth, partnered with God’s love, which offers us that most radical message of all – that we don’t have to try to be loved and acceptable, we simply are: “In a culture which constantly harasses people that they need to ‘get things right’, it is hard for us to believe or accept that (God’s) love for us might not be at all conditional on us firstly having met all requirements of being an acceptably changed person.”

Rebecca, a transgender woman, said her trans journey, despite the difficulties it presents to her, “has also been an enormous blessing and a profoundly spiritual experience… Being a trans-woman is something you wouldn’t rush to choose; it is not a bandwagon you’d jump on because it’s apparently fashionable.  We, and many other groups, still have a loooooong way to go to achieve full acceptance and inclusion.

“But like all things in the Lord’s kingdom, it also comes with insight and blessing that you might not otherwise experience.  And whilst perhaps it is a two-edged gift, there are times when I am very grateful for what it brings.”

The message throughout the service was that God has created us just as we are and loves us just as we are, and there is nothing we can do to stop that love. Accepting ourselves as we are will allow us to thrive and be who we were born to be, and the joy and security that this brings will spread out to other people.  This will be a gift to the world.

There will be another Rainbow service in the summer. You can email us to find out more: news@badshotleaandhale.org

 

 

Picture by Chris Barbalis. Unsplash.

 

 

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