Category Archives: Services

Dust and ashes

This Wednesday (March 6) is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the beginning of the season which leads up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday has its roots in the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting and many Christians mark the day by going to church and having a mark of ashes placed on their foreheads. Here in the parish there will be a service of ashing at St John’s at both 9.30am and 7.30pm. The ash is made by burning palm crosses blessed at last year’s Palm Sunday services and you can receive the mark with the words:

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.”

It is a solemn reminder of our calling to follow Christ and be his body here on earth.

 

ash wednesday.jpg

 

 

Top picture by Ahna Ziegler. Unsplash

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”.

 

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.

 

 

A Rainbow Epiphany

Everyone is invited to a Rainbow Epiphany Eucharist at St Mary’s Church, Quarry Street, Guildford, this Thursday (January 10).

The service, which begins at 7.30pm, will be an ecumenical Eucharist to celebrate and give thanks for the gifts and talents of and offered by the LGBTI+ community. Everyone is welcome, including friends and allies.

This is the second Rainbow Eucharist to be held at St Mary’s specifically to welcome and celebrate LGBTI+ people, and here in Badshot Lea and Hale we have been instrumental in setting up the series. On Thursday, Dave and Helena Walker, who worship at St Mark’s, will be leading an artistic element in the service with the help of Stella Wiseman who is on the Rainbow services steering group.

We are part of this, not just because the Rainbow services are uplifiting, celebratory and welcoming, but because of our commitment to inclusion. The parish belongs to Inclusive Church and seeks to include everyone whatever our economic status, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality.

The service will begin at 7.30pm and will end with refreshments, including rather good cake!

To find out more, email Stella Wiseman: news@badshotleaandhale.org, or contact Holy Trinity, Guildford:  office@holytrinityguildford.org or 01483 567716.

Picture: Enfolded by Gillaine Holland

Christmas – a story of hope and unity

This Christmas, come and join us at services at any of the three churches – St George’s in Badshot Lea, St John’s in Hale, St Mark’s in Upper Hale. For details of services, see here. For details of why you may want to, read on.

Human beings are natural storytellers.  It is something that defines us. We love stories, we define ourselves by our stories, in them we find identity. We even turn things that aren’t really stories into stories because everything needs a story for us to find it plausible; if there is no story then we don’t really register what we are hearing; lists of names or facts or equations generally bore us.

More than anything we need stories of hope and stories to unite us. These are the best stories and they are even better if we tell them from one generation to the next, including the children in the telling. I love the Jewish tradition of Passover, with the unleavened bread, the bitter herbs and the four glasses of wine representing hope, and the youngest child asks the question four times in different ways “Why is this night, of all nights, different?”

The story of Christmas is part of the greatest story ever told, and for me it is the most shocking part, that 2000 years ago a baby was born who united heaven and earth, united God and humankind, and this baby was born in humble circumstances. This baby was worshipped by angels in heaven, poor shepherds who lived locally, and rich magi who had travelled from afar. The baby gets a name “Emmanuel” which means “God with us”, and in that name is our hope and our unity, God is with us… Wow…

We remember this each year, we act it out at our crib services, we involve our children, so that we all know the story. We know that Herod was horrible, we know that there was no room at the inn, we know that Mary was a virgin (even if some of us don’t yet know that word means!) and that she travelled a long way on a donkey whilst heavily pregnant. During the rendition of this story some of the women who have given birth smile at the depictions of Mary’s labour, there are usually a few costume malfunctions, sometimes we struggle to find a Joseph (understandable really), and we all sing carols. The story doesn’t get old or tired.

We also remember this story each year at the “First mass of Christmas” – Midnight Mass – when the church is lit with candles and the organ plays the carols we know so well. Everything is more magical at night time, we wait up past our bedtimes with expectation and with joy, joining together as a rather disparate community, all with one intention, to see in this special day where we celebrate the birth of our Saviour. There are some who come to church only once a year to this service, there are some who have come from afar who are staying with friends or relatives, there are some who have just come from the pub; last year we had some who were Muslims and who had never been to a service in their lives before, and there are some who are regulars at that church. This is the magic of Christmas – the ability for this story to bring us all together in hope.

I love the poem “Christmas” by John Betjeman that we hear each year at the carol service at St John’s. It ends with a question:

And is it true,

This most tremendous tale of all,

Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,

A Baby in an ox’s stall?

The Maker of the stars and sea

Become a Child on earth for me?

 

And is it true? For if it is,

No loving fingers tying strings

Around those tissued fripperies,

The sweet and silly Christmas things,

Bath salts and inexpensive scent

And hideous tie so kindly meant,

 

No love that in a family dwells,

No carolling in frosty air,

Nor all the steeple-shaking bells

Can with this single Truth compare –

That God was man in Palestine

And lives today in Bread and Wine.

 

And is it true? Why is this night of all nights different?

I pray that your Christmas will be joyful and give you hope, I pray that you will find unity and community in your travels this Christmastide and I pray that this will bless you throughout 2019.

Lesley Crawley

 

Support when Christmas hurts

Tonight at St John’s, Hale, we are holding a service especially for people for whom Christmas is a time of pain and grieving.

The Longest Night – when Christmas hurts will take place at 7.30pm, and is a service of prayers, music, readings and lighting candles, for people who want to reconnect with the love of God from the depths of their own pain.

Lesley Crawley explains the thinking behind this: “Christmas is a particularly difficult time to be grieving or feeling pain. Jesus came into our broken world as a helpless baby and through this simple service we pray that you will find hope and comfort in knowing that you are not alone.”

Anyone who would like pastoral support or to talk to someone in the parish about any difficulty is invited to contact Lesley or Alan Crawley on revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org or revd.alan@badshotleaandhale.org or 01252 820537.

 

God above us, within us and at the bottom of the garden

A Celtic Service

God above us – trees, birds and sunshine, stars and moonlight – God above us.

God within us – hope, tears and laughter, love and wonder – God within us.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with my son about the Celtic service at St George’s I was going to be taking part in, with Wendy Edwards and Dave and Helena Walker. As a joke – I think – he asked  Is that where you paint your face blue and dance around with no clothes on?”

I said that was not what we would be doing and he seemed disappointed ! However it did make me think that other people may have similar ideas.

So to reassure everyone, on Saturday, July 14 at 5pm, 22 of us met in the garden of St. George’s for a Celtic Service. The weather and setting were just right.

Wendy led our worship beautifully with words and prayers, and told us how she found God at the bottom of her garden. Helena and Dave prepared an area for us do do various art activities, and brought a large Celtic cross they had painted.

We sang some familiar hymns and some new songs and sang The Lord’s Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

Afterwards we all stayed to chat over refreshments of shortbread, Welsh cakes and homemade fruit bread, with tea and coffee.

It was a beautiful service. Thank you Wendy. I look forward to the next one.

Margaret Emberson

PS And we did NOT paint our faces blue and dance around with no clothes on!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reflections on a rainbow

 

Last Wednesday (July 18) I and several others from the parish, had the privilege of being part of a ‘Rainbow Service’ at St Mary’s Church in Guildford, a communion service which celebrated diversity and in particular welcomed people from the LGBTI+ community, along with family, friends and allies.

The word ‘privilege’ is often used to describe people’s feelings when they have attended an event, so often used that it has become a cliché and I thought carefully before using it, but it really did feel a privilege to be part of a warm, joyful, colourful service which not only celebrated diversity but was also ground-breaking. There have been other such services in other places but this was, I believe, the first in this part of the Diocese of Guildford. It was also packed, and not just with Anglicans, for it was an ecumenical service. I don’t know who came from which church but among those I was particularly pleased to welcome were three from the Godalming Unitarian Chapel including the minister Sheena.

The word privilege is important here for another reason too. Those who identify as straight and cisgendered have been privileged in society, and LGBTI+ people have been at best marginalised and discriminated against. More than that they have often been persecuted, attacked, forced to hide themselves. In some places they are imprisoned, killed. Though in many countries society is much more welcoming now – we have equal marriage after all, though ceremonies cannot be conducted in the Anglican Church – discrimination remains and the church is in large part responsible. There were those I knew there who had experienced direct discrimination and humiliation from both church and society, and I knew just a few of the congregation.

During the service there were references to the wounds that have been and continue to be inflicted, but there was no sense of bitterness, simply an offering of ourselves to God and a joy that God welcomes us all here, now, as we are, and loves and celebrates us. The Confession included the words: ‘Forgive us when we don’t believe such love is true or possible, when we wonder how you could love us just as we are, when we forget our intricate construction, fearfully, wonderfully made, in your image! You know our hearts – and you love us still.’

There was joy, there was wonderful music, and there was colour, not least in the ribbons that we all wore and then tied to a huge circle of wool which we all held, before placing it on the altar, in the rainbow cloth in front of the altar, in the rainbow banner which until the night before had adorned St Mark’s in Hale, in the amazing rainbow cupcakes which a lady called Liz had made, in the installation celebrating and challenging us on inclusion which Lesley Shatwell had prepared, in the rainbow collages which Dave and Helena Walker encouraged us to make.

There was also talk, lots of it, with people lingering over nibbles, wine and those cupcakes, making friends, just feeling welcome. It was, as I said, a privilege and the first, I am certain, of many such occasions.

Stella Wiseman