Category Archives: St Mark’s Church

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,

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

 

The Story that Matters Most

We are still early in the new year, still at the time when any new year’s resolutions are at least not a distant memory (the second Friday in January is said to be the one when most of us have given up on resolutions). What if one of our resolutions this year could be to follow Jesus more truly? What if we were able to respond to the question “is this the year we’ll walk in Your ways?” with a promise to do all we can?

That question is one asked in a carol which was sung at St Mark’s last month. It was in fact a world premiere of a carol by author, songworker and artist Ash Brockwell. The carol was ‘The Story that Matters Most’.

Just before we sang it, I told the congregation how I had come across it. Ash had shared it on Facebook because of his concern and compassion for a 17-year-old transgender boy, Eli, who had already attempted suicide twice, who had then been asked to leave his church. Ash asked: ‘How is it possible that we still have church leaders who can reject and hurt such a vulnerable young person and yet convince themselves they’re doing God’s work?’. I don’t know the answer to that, but the God I put my faith in is one who welcomes all and loves all and who asks us to walk in his ways and do the same. We dedicated the song to Eli and others like him.

The carol, sung to the tune of William Parry’s Jerusalem, is going to be part of our canon. The story of how Ash came to write it is recorded here.

And here are the words:

The Story that Matters Most

Two thousand years this story’s been told,
Two thousand years and still we sing:
The Magi came with spices and gold
To glorify the new-born king;
The stable bare, the angels there,
the humble shepherds gathered around…
To tell the story that mattered most,
The love and hope their hearts had found.

Two thousand years and still we’re the same,
Watching the flames of hatred burn,
The grief and fear still spread in Your name…
Beloved, will we ever learn?
I know Your only law is Love,
I’ll hold to what I know to be true,
Perhaps the story that matters most
Is one that starts with me and You?

I won’t let hatred tear me apart,
I will not yield to doubt and fear;
I’ll look within the core of my heart,
And find You always waiting here.
You know the truth of who I am:
Open my eyes and help me to see,
Until the story that matters most
Begins again with You and me.

Is this the year we’ll walk in Your ways?
Is this the year we’ll learn to lead,
And share Your truth through worship and praise,
But also thought and word and deed?
What leads to fear is never right,
what leads to Love can never be wrong;
We know the story that matters most
Is one in which we ALL belong.

 

 

Stella Wiseman

 

 

 

Emily and the Generations on the radio

Emily and the Generations may sound a little like a pop group, but today’s blog post title actually refers to an interview with Lesley Crawley on BBC Radio Surrey this morning (Sunday, Jan 13).

She was interviewed on the Sunday Breakfast show about our final push to raise money for Emily the organ – just £559 to go folks, come on, we can do it – but the interview spanned far more than just Emily, important and beloved as she is.

Interviewer Emily Jeffery talked to Lesley about how Emily the organ is a beloved part of the community and how her overhaul will allow us to use her again in worship, concerts and for children to learn on.

Then the interview broadened out to something that is also dear to our parish – the way we try to bring old and young and in between together.

Lesley spoke about the fact that local school children will be welcomed in to see the organ when it is being restored, how the table tennis club we run has become a ‘youth group for all ages’, the fact that we don’t send the children out of church for a separate Sunday school (“we are an inclusive church … and it seems wrong to send out part of our congregation”), the plans for opening St John’s up more to the community and bringing people together with a café, and other resources, perhaps even a nursery which could link in with a local care home.

To hear the interview click here and go to 2:38:52.

 

 

Picture by Will Francis. Unsplash.

 

‘Emily’ the Organ – one last push!

We are nearly there! ‘Emily,’ the pipe organ at St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, is in need of a thorough overhaul – at 106 years old she is showing her age. We need £23,000 to mend her and we are almost there – just £559 to go!

The money has been raised by the generosity of local people, the hard work of fundraisers and those who have put on and taken part in events, as well as funds from grant-giving bodies. Some people have sponsored pipes, others have made donations at concerts, sung, produced art, recited poetry, made cakes, bought cakes, even constructed a model organ and pushed it round two carnivals! Thank you everyone for what you have done.

We are now appealing for the last little bit so that work can begin this year. One easy way is by sponsoring a pipe. Pipes can be sponsored anonymously or not, and if you sponsor a pipe you can dedicate it to a loved one. You will receive a certificate and the church will display all the names and notes that all the sponsors write on a ‘Sponsoring a Pipe’ manuscript. There will be a celebratory concert once ‘Emily’ has been restored to which all those who have sponsored a pipe will be invited.

Rev’d Lesley Crawley from St Mark’s said: “Emily is a beautiful Edwardian pipe organ which is over 100 years old. She is referred to as ‘Emily’ after her benefactor – Emily Mangles. Sadly, she has been used very rarely over the past six years because, after a century of service, she is in need of a complete overhaul. Once she is restored then she will be available for community events such as concerts, and children who are learning the organ will be able to practise on her once again.”

These are the recommended donations:

Choose your level            Donation

Stop                                           £100

16ft pipe                                   £60

8ft pipe                                     £30

4ft pipe                                     £15

If you would like to donate, please contact Lesley on
revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org

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

 

Come and sing carols!

Come and sing carols for Christmas!

As we approach Christmas, there are plenty of opportunities to join in singing carols in celebration, starting with Informal Carols by Candlelight at St Mark’s on Friday (14th) at 6pm.

Then on Sunday (16th) both St George’s and St John’s are holding carol services.

At St George’s at 11.30am come and join the Worship for All Carol Service, and later that day there is a Candlelit Carol Service at 6pm.

Meanwhile at St John’s at 4pm, join in the beautiful traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols by Candlelight.

On Monday (17th) at 6pm, there will be carols under the lit tree at St George’s (inside if wet).

And on Tuesday (18th), come and sing carols at the Hale Institute from 6-8pm.

Come and celebrate with us! Everyone is welcome.

A Christmas carol extravaganza!

Come and join our Christmas Carol Extravaganza on Saturday (December 8) at St Mark’s, any time from 10.30am.

The day starts with coffee at 10.30am followed by carols from 11am and a light lunch at 12.30pm.

There are plenty of favourite carols to join in with – O come, O come Emmanuel; Silent Night; Hark! the herald-angels sing; Good King Wenceslas; The Holly and the ivy; O come, all ye faithful, and many, many more. There will also be ‘Christmas Rhythm’, a piece by Geoff Willis with eight Christmas carols hidden within.  The audience can have some fun identifying them.

All the pieces and carols will be played  on ‘Emily’, our treasured Edwardian organ, with other instruments sometimes to help her out.  Bob Shatwell is MC, and he’s leading ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ at the end, so anything could happen!  Donations welcome in aid of Emily. There will also be a raffle.

Emily is 106, and has a few tricks! You’ll hear surprising sounds you wouldn’t expect. A short demo will reveal her eccentricities, and the need to raise funds.

Come to Christingle

Come to Christingle this Sunday at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, at 11am.

Christingle is a celebration that takes place sometime between the beginning of December and February 2.

We create ‘Christingles’ out of oranges, sweets and dried fruit stuck in them using cocktail sticks, red ribbon around the oranges and a candle which we light. At this point, Bob, the churchwarden who is also responsible for health and safety, looks anxious and claims we are going to burn the church down but he’s joking (aren’t you Bob?!), but we are always safe.

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’s 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 11am, join in and also raise money for the charity The Children’s Society.