Category Archives: St John’s Church

Candlemas

Candlemas coming up. This is the annual Christian festival which takes place 40 days after Christmas and commemorates the time Jesus was presented in the Temple in Jerusalem. The story is told in Luke 2:22–38.

The official day is February 2, and some people leave their Christmas decorations up until then, but we are celebrating it on the Sunday before – January 31.

At St George’s there will be a Christingle – see here – and at St John’s and St Mark’s we shall be lighting candles which will be ready for you at the services. You can pick up a cardboard drip-shield at the churches this weekend, and we would like you to decorate it and bring it with you on January 31.

On the day, Lesley Shatwell will be preaching at both St John’s and St Mark’s and there will be pencils and a sheet of paper on seats ready for you to use. She says: “There will definitely be creative, congregational participation – and it may be good to remember that ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’ as Albert Einstein said, because we are going to have fun and everyone’s intelligent”.

We are celebrating Candlemas here online too, looking at how we can share the light of Jesus with others. Please bring your own candle and you can make a drip shield using a paper plate or other white card. You can bring battery-operated candle if you prefer. There will be craft at the end where you can make a candle to remember Candlemas and its meaning.

How to make a drip shield

Cut the card into a circle, or a square, depending on your preference, then make two small slits in the shape of a cross in the middle of the card. One cross should be enough but you can make another cross at a 45 degree angle to the first one, as in the picture below.

As you push your candle through the hole that these make, the card should just grip the candle gently. You can see an example of this here: https://youtu.be/DGTYIJv2peM

Decorate your drip-shield and you are ready to go.

Why Candlemas?

Finally, why candles and why Candlemas? Candles are a symbol of light and hope and the festival comes half-way through the period between the Winter Solstice (December 21/22) and the Spring Equinox (around March 21), so heading towards spring but not yet there. In pre-Christian times there was a ‘festival of lights’ then and the church combined this with celebrating the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, using candles at the service and blessing candles for use in the year ahead.

Top picture by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash.

Lockdown update

We are back into lockdown with schools closed to most children; restrictions on leaving our homes; all but essential shops closed; and other rules which are now law which you can find here.

However, churches can remain open for worship as long as they follow strict precautions such as social distancing, hand sanitizing, no mingling between households/bubbles, everyone of 11 and over wearing masks (unless exempt), and the parish is continuing to monitor the situation. We have increased the space between chairs where possible, have moved the altar at St Mark’s back to create more space and at St Mark’s will be bringing communion to people rather than expecting them to move around to take communion so that there is enough room for everyone.

However, no-one who feels uncomfortable about coming to church should feel any obligation to come and there are online services every week here.

Lesley explains the thinking behind this: “Churches offer comfort and support which is particularly important at a time when our mental health is under such strain. Moreover, the risk of catching Covid has been shown to be very low in UK churches and we have gone out or our way to ensure that we have mitigated any risks. We will continue to follow the guidelines and to ask our congregations to do the same.

“We also want churches to remain open for funerals. For many families, church funerals are important and we are also able to accommodate larger numbers than many crematoria – we can have up to 30 people – so enabling more people to experience this important aspect of grieving.

“Of course many of our congregations may not wish to come to church at the moment. We are continuing our services online as well as in church so those who have internet can join in. However, we are acutely aware of those people who do not have internet and cannot come to church and we are doing what we can to ensure that they are not isolated. We even have people ringing others up and playing the service through the phone as well as just having a general chat.”

Our services are at 9.30am at St John’s, 10am at St George’s and 11am at St Mark’s, and online services are here.

concert raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support

Charity fundraising has been a victim of Covid, but there have been ways to keep bringing in money as a concert at St John’s before Christmas (and before Tier 4) proved.

The Gazebo Quartet, made up of local professional musicians, hired the church on December 13 and put on a concert for an invited audience who could sit safely in bubbles and appreciate the music.

Judy Dudley from the quartet writes: “

“The players who constitute the Gazebo String Quartet would like to give a big thank you to St John’s, Church Hale for making it possible for us to perform our Christmas Concert in December 2020.

“Being local musicians who play for both amateur and professional events, we formed the quartet when playing together outside under a gazebo during the early Covid restrictions, hence the name!

“We presented an eclectic programme of popular music items from Neil Diamond to Gilbert and Sullivan followed by beautiful arrangements of Christmas Carols from a variety of European roots.

“St John’s Church has a very fine acoustic for an event like this which made playing there particularly satisfying for string players. We were so pleased to be able to donate £175.00 to Macmillan Cancer Care donated by our generous invited audience.”

Judy Dudley (violin), Zoe Marshall (violin), Pippa Cuckson (viola) and Lynda Trice (cello).

Epiphany

Come to any of our three churches this Sunday – January 3 – to celebrate Epiphany.

We will be holding all-age services for Epiphany at 9.30am at St John’s, 10am at St George’s and 11am at St Mark’s. Everyone is welcome – we have done everything that we can to keep congregations safe from Covid. Please wear a mask unless you are exempt.

Epiphany recalls the visit by the Magi – also known as the Wise Men – to the infant Jesus as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. They came from eastern lands and were therefore not Jewish so they signify the way that Jesus is for all nations, Jews and non-Jews alike.

Because the story speaks of them bringing three gifts to Jesus – gold, frankincense and myrrh – the Western church has tended to talk of three Magi but the Eastern church suggests there were 12.

Come and join us and celebrate.

Christmas services

Join us in person and online this Christmas. We have services for all ages where you will be welcome.

We have done everything we can to ensure that you will feel safe from Covid in our churches. Please wear a mask if you are able – we appreciate that not everyone can – follow the directions in the church and stay within your own ‘bubble’.

If you are not able or comfortable about coming to church, please join us online here. We will also be streaming Midnight Mass for you.

Everyone is welcome in our churches. As members of Inclusive Church we want to reiterate that, whatever your background, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity or economic status, you are welcome. If you are neurodiverse, you are welcome; if you have mental health challenges, or a learning or physical disability, you are welcome. Whoever and however you are, you are welcome. Please ask if you need any assistance.

Carols in the Night

A wonderful evening of carols, readings and prayers in the churchyard at St John’s yesterday. Huge thanks to all who took part, including the Mayor of Farnham, Cllr Pat Evans; Farnham Heath End School; Waverley Singers; Farnham Brass Band; the St John’s Choir; and the Cogger family who provided the PA system.

Come along to St Mark’s, Alma Lane, Hale, tomorrow (Friday) and St George’s, Badshot Lea, on Sunday, both at 6pm, for more of the same.

Carols By Moonlight

Join us for some outdoor carol services in the grounds of all three of our churches:

Wednesday, December 16, 6pm: St John’s, Hale.

Friday, December 18, 6pm: St Mark’s, Upper Hale.

Sunday, December 20, 6pm: St George’s, Badshot Lea.

Wrap up warm and join us for socially distanced carol singing and readings for Christmas. There will be favourite carols – Once in Royal David’s City, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, Silent Night and others – and at St John’s we will be joined by members of Farnham Brass Band, Waverley Singers, and a choir from St John’s.

There will also prayers and Bible readings, and we are delighted to welcome some of our local representatives to help with the readings.

Cllr Pat Evans, Mayor of Farnham, will read at St John’s; Cllr Penny Marriot, Mayor of Waverley, will read at St Mark’s; and Cllr Mark Merryweather of both Farnham Town Council and Waverley Borough Council will read at St George’s.

Bring a mask and a torch as well as warm clothes and join us for some Christmas joy!

An Advent full of Joy

Advent is going to be a bit different this year. Normally the four services leading up to Christmas are a little bit solemn; the church is not decorated, no baptisms happen, the hymns are in a minor key. It is all about watching and waiting and hoping.

However, not this year! Let’s be honest, ever since March we have been watching and waiting and hoping – it has been the longest Advent ever. A number of people have said they have had enough of being miserable and they would like some joy in December instead. Also, as we are not having crib services or carol services in church this year, we want to invite everyone in throughout December to hear the story of Christmas.

Consequently, all the churches will have a series of family-friendly services including drama and opportunities for craft throughout December and we will be looking at characters in the Nativity:

  • 6th December – Mary and the Archangel Gabriel
  • 13th December – Shepherds and Angels
  • 20th December – Mary and Joseph
  • 25th December – birth of Jesus
  • (no service on 27th December)
  • 4th January – Magi (or Kings)

Please let Lesley know if you are willing to take part by email revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org or phone 01252 820537. At each of the above services there are lots of roles for adults and children and young people to get stuck into:

  • Welcoming
  • Singing
  • Reading a prayer
  • Drama
  • Reading a poem
  • Preparing crafts

It will be lovely to see you there.

Every blessing

Lesley