Category Archives: St Mark’s Church

Division and peacemaking

A sermon preached at St Mark’s on August 18 on the text Luke 12: 49-56.

The text from the Gospel today is a tough one. It is about Jesus saying he came to bring division to the world. (You can read it here). I gather that far more learned people than I am have decided today to preach on one of the other readings in the lectionary but at St Mark’s we don’t read these, so I have to deal with the Gospel.

Mind you, the other readings (Isaiah 5: 1-7; Hebrews 11: 29-12: 2) aren’t that easy, because they talk of some of the less pleasant things God is portrayed as doing – eg drowning the Egyptians – and this is something that we have to deal with.

And here in this passage, what is going on? Is Jesus talking about his death, about the end times, about strife within the community? Fire is something that is used in the Bible to purify and is painful and associated with a vengeful God.

And what about saying that he had come to bring division? I thought he was the Prince of Peace. After all he said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’.

Or was he talking about what inevitably happened because of the radical, anti-establishment nature of the Gospel? Jesus was a divisive character then and continues to be. Those following him at the time would have been seen as radicals and no doubt this divided families, as it still does in some places. And a gospel which said that the outcast was worthy, that the poor should inherit the earth – was this upturning of values the fire he was talking about? It was obviously going to divide people.

And if Jesus inevitably divides people, what are we meant to do about it? Do we just say, oh, that is OK, Jesus said there would be division so I am right to be divided against my friend, neighbour etc? That seems like a lazy, literal interpretation of the text.

I’ve been reading various interpretations of the text and they have been useful but also exposed something at the root of why we have the problem of division –  ie there are lots of interpretations and I, like most of us, have leaned generally towards the ones I agree with and have discounted the others. That interpretation suits me, that one doesn’t so I will go with the first and not the second. Or I can’t fit that one into my narrative so I will ignore it. It doesn’t fit with the conclusions I have already reached.

The issue of my liking some interpretations and not others, the issue of not even considering some interpretations, is fundamental to the issue of division which he talks about and is horribly resonant with society today. I don’t know when there was last such a divided country. The same goes for America. And as I look at people who support opposite views to mine I find myself thinking – how could you? How can you be so: ignorant, selfish, blind etc etc? And they no doubt look at me and say much the same. That sort of attitude and division is not going to bring healing to the world.

Think for a moment about something you are convinced you are right about. What do you feel about the people who disagree with you?

The same goes for church. This was really underlined recently for me when I went to the first Surrey Pride and spent some of my time arguing against a group of men and women from an organisation whose main aim appears to be to challenge LGBTI+ people, and persuade them to turn away from their sexual identities. I believe passionately in a God who accepts people just as they are. This group were made to leave the Pride event – one of the ambulance staff there said that one young person had had a panic attack after they had spoken to this group – but stood outside to talk to people there with the police keeping a watchful eye. The police were fantastic and stood close while I spoke, ready to intervene if they were concerned for anyone’s safety.

Neither the group nor I was going to persuade or even listen to the other. We both knew we were right. But where did that leave us? Probably both sides feeling self-righteous and cross.

So what do we do about these divisions?

My personal response to division has usually been to try to pour oil on troubled water, try to keep everyone happy. Division is bad, right? OK I didn’t try that at Pride but that was unusual. Usually I have tried to be a peacekeeper.

But maybe peacekeeping isn’t the way forward. If we just try to keep the peace then we are less likely to deal with the issues that are causing the division in the first place. We will ignore those issues and they will fester and cause greater issues and greater divisions. Maybe that is one of the things we have been doing in this country which has led to such division now. If one lot of people have felt left behind and another happy with the status quo, maybe that was inevitably going to lead to the divisions we have over Brexit, or inevitably going to lead to Donald Trump.

I think there has been another factor which has been at play here too, encouraging the rise of the right wing, something which has exacerbated the divisions. As a more liberal society has emerged there has been a push back by those whose position and power is threatened – chiefly the mainly white patriarchy.

So we have divisions and if peacekeeping isn’t the way to solve them, what is? Maybe looking at what causes division would help us grow and change for the better. Maybe this is one of the things Jesus meant when he talked about division and about reading the signs. He was saying that there will be division because his way is challenging to the status quo, challenging to the powerful, challenging to the haves, and it is right that it is challenging and divisive, because if it isn’t society will never grow and change and follow his way.

So maybe we shouldn’t be peacekeepers but something more proactive – peacemakers. Jesus said ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ not blessed are the peacekeepers. Peacemakers are those who look at both sides, see both sides as having rights and responsibilities, offer both sides a way forward. Peacemakers at their best are those who try to look at the world through the eyes of both sides.

But, says the follower of Jesus, my side is obviously right. I am obviously right. My understanding of what Jesus wants is obviously right.

How do we know our interpretation is right? Maybe a little humility would be good here, and maybe a little bit of trying to listen, to each other and to God. I have become more and more convinced that prayer is a way forward (even though I am not good at practising what I preach!). If we pray, try to listen to God as well as each other, then maybe we will change within. Maybe that is the fire that Jesus meant – a fire within us which changes us.

Stella Wiseman

Picture by Sunyu.

 

Lord, teach us to pray

A sermon by Lesley Shatwell on the Lord’s Prayer

The disciples said: “Lord, teach us to pray”.

And then Jesus replied by giving us what we now call the Lord’s Prayer.

It’s something which everyone used to learn when they were little – at least that was so back in the 1950s/60s when I was little, but I guess things have moved on since then …

I rather feel that it’s not just me falling behind the times though, because whilst the Lord’s Prayer is the most beloved prayer, well known and well used by Christians every day, I think the words themselves may be concealing some things.

Let me say from the outset that it is completely, totally NOT my intention to question the words of Jesus. These are merely thoughts I have which I hope may encourage you to think prayerfully for yourselves.

Take “Our father” for example.  It seems to me that’s a shorthand for “our mother, our beloved parent who created us, who sees us and knows us better than we know ourselves and who loves us come what may”. Often people have difficulty in thinking about God as father.  It could be for any number of reasons, but we are addressing God here, the God who created us, who is without gender.  Ageless, timeless, and without limit.

And yet, by using the word “Father”, Jesus invites us to have a personal relationship with our God, creator of all things.

We are invited to count ourselves into God’s family.

Our father …

At this point, maybe we had better take a moment to acknowledge the holiness of the Lord’s name.

We come into the holy presence of God.

As Moses was reminded when he approached the burning bush through which God was speaking to him, “Take off your sandals, you are on holy ground.”  Hallowed be your name.

We are allowed to call God “father” but God is holy and we are humble before him.  Let’s not forget the priorities here.

Talking about priorities, “your will be done”.

Yes, that’s your will, Lord, not mine.  Because if I’m honest, you have a much better grasp of things than me.  For instance, I struggle to share all I have generously with your whole creation.  I take too much for granted, I want too much for myself and my loved ones.  I’m inclined to get annoyed and upset if you don’t play your part in my plans to make everything happen the way I want it.  And yes, that hurts.

But I wonder, whilst you are at work on me Lord, it would be useful if I could remember that what I want is not always the most important thing from your point of view.  Help me to be gracious and accepting of your will.  I know ultimately it never works if I try to force you to fall into line with me.  If I make the wrong decisions, gently bring me back to your ways.

Your kingdom come – and please hurry up.  We are in dire need of heaven here on earth right now.  We as humans have made such a mess of so many things.  When your kingdom comes all will be realigned to your ways and I can’t wait.

But in the meantime, we need daily bread now.  Yes, that’s food and clean water, shelter, and safety – everything our bodies need.  But also give us each day our spiritual food.  Help us to grow in wisdom and your grace.

Forgive us our sins.  Oh my goodness, if there was ever someone needing forgiveness, it’s me Lord.  Even when I try to do my best, I fall short.  And I do try, but it is so disheartening when things don’t work out the way you would wish.

I’m inclined to try and hide my shortcomings.  I hide them so well, sometimes it’s difficult to admit I have any, least of all if I call them “sins.” I don’t sin, I’ve been really good just lately … who am I kidding? Yes Lord, I acknowledge that I am less than the perfect human.

I am work in progress, I keep trying and in the meantime I would be grateful if you could forgive my past slip-ups and let me have the freedom to make a clean start.

It hurts when I’m annoyed with someone, when I believe someone is deliberately trying to upset me. Or even if the person upsets me without them knowing it. Lord, give me the grace to forgive everyone who has ever harmed or upset me or my family or my loved ones. Again, I need the freedom which is in your gift, so that I can move on to reconciliation.

Lord, help us through the evil which surrounds us.  Keep us true to you when we seem to be surrounded by darkness and terror.  We are living through uncertain times now.

Circle us with your love and let us know you are with us come thick or thin.  Be with all who suffer, let everyone know that you deliver us from evil.

And Lord, I know I’m asking a lot – but please be aware that I will carry on asking. I’m not going to give up calling on you because I know that you never give up on me. Let me not be too upset if you don’t grant my prayers in the way I ask. You have a far more complete picture than I do, help me to trust your kind and loving judgement of me.

All that said, I do have confidence that if I ask for anything which is good and right in your sight, then my prayer will be answered, in your own time and your own way – for which I thank you.

I know that if I knock persistently on your door you will open it to me.

If I persistently search for you, I will find you.

For you give me your Holy Spirit, so I need never search alone.

Amen

Luke 11.1-13 – Lord’s Prayer: St Mark’s. 28 July 2019.

 

Image by Beki Blade,  used in Thy Kingdom Come 2016 exhibition.

 

Emily the organ sings again

Emily, the Edwardian organ at St Mark’s Church, showed off her versatility in a concert on Saturday, July 20, to celebrate her restoration.

Emily, named after the eccentric local benefactor Emily Mangles who left money to the church in 1912, was celebrated in a light-hearted evening during which John Mansfield, Geoff Willis, Stephen Lacey, Rob Goldfinch and Frances Whewell of the North Hampshire Organists Association (NHOA) performed a varied programme which ranged from Bach’s Toccata in D minor to Gershwin’s I got Rhythm, with vocal accompaniment by singer Wendy Edwards. There was also a demonstration of how an organ works using props worthy of Blue Peter, and some surprises in how individual stops work. We learned some of the background to when and how Emily was built in 1912 and why she needed restoring, and there was even an interview with Emily Mangles herself – in the form of the original Emily’s great-great-great niece.

Emily Mangles the younger told the audience about the family who lived in Poyle Park (near Tongham) and who numbered among them an MP and serious collectors of plants from overseas. There is even an Emily Mangles rhododendron and the family introduced garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to architect Edwin Lutyens, a partnership responsible for some of the country’s most beautiful houses and gardens. The modern Emily Mangles had brought with her a copy of a poem written by her Victorian predecessors called The Hubbub of Poyle which features Emily as ‘Daddy The Good’, referring to her good works in the parish and her love of playing the organ and leading a choir, as well as her passion for pigs and love of crumpets.

While admitting to feeling slightly spooked by seeing the words ‘In Memory of Emily Mangles’ on the organ itself, Emily said how amazed she was at the affection shown for the organ. That was something that shone through the whole evening. There was affection not just from the musicians, but from the large audience, some of whom had known the organ many years ago and had come back to see and hear her, and some of whom were discovering her for the first time.

Emily the organ was made in Hastings, installed in the church in 1912 and is now sounding as good as ever thanks to the restoration by Dean and Shawn from FH Browne & Sons. However, that restoration hasn’t been entirely paid for. At the end of the concert Lesley Crawley told us that, during the course of restoration, new problems had been found. Dean and Shawn had continued the work, trusting that the church would raise the money, so a new appeal has been launched to raise £2,000 more. Details of the appeal appear here and you can give via our JustGiving page by clicking  here.

 

Emily needs a little more help

Emily the organ is asking for help.

Emily, the 107-year-old organ in St Mark’s, has just been restored following several years of fundraising, but in the course of that restoration some new problems emerged. We have already raised £23,000 for the organ, and now need to find a further £2,000 to pay for the extra work.

Lesley Crawley explains the problem: “When the restorers took Emily apart they found some leatherwork which had perished. It seems to be the original leatherwork so is over 100 years old, and if we hadn’t replaced it, the organ would have soon failed.

“The restorers have kindly trusted us to raise the extra money but we need the help to do so, so we are asking the community to give us a hand with this. We are very fond of Emily and she is a real community asset which we are very lucky to have – not many churches have an instrument of such character and appeal. That character and the love people have for her was clearly demonstrated at the concert we held to celebrate in July. We are also lucky to have such willing and entertaining musicians to play her and we look forward to many more concerts as well as being able to use Emily in worship. Added to this, she is now a fine instrument for people to use when learning to play the organ.”

There is more than one way to help raise the £2,000. It is possible to sponsor a pipe – there are 524 of them – and sponsorship starts at £15. Click here to find out more.

Or you can make a donation via our JustGiving page by clicking here. Anyone who donates at least £10 will be invited to an organ concert at St Mark’s in December to hear this wonderful old instrument played by highly skilled and entertaining musicians.

But if you want to come to the concert, please don’t be shy – give your name on the JustGiving page, then email admin@badshotleaandhale.org and you will receive an invitation to the concert in December.

If you prefer, you can send a cheque to The Rectory at 25 Upper Hale Road, Farnham,  GU9 0NX, made payable to The Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale, and again, if you want to come to the concert, add your name and contact details.

Pictured top: Emily the organ. Photo by George Britton.
georgebrittonphotography@gmail.com Instagram – @g3xrg3

Emily’s ready! Come hear the music play

She’s suited, she’s booted and she’s definitely not muted! Emily the organ is playing again at St Mark’s Church on Saturday, July 20, from 7.30pm at a free concert to which everyone is invited.

Emily the pipe organ, named after her benefactor and noted woman of Hale, Emily Mangles, is more than 100 years old and, as befitted her age (she was installed in 1912) needed an overhaul. She has now been completely restored to her former glory by organ specialists FH Browne and Sons and you can hear her play at Saturday’s free concert where performances by members of the North Hampshire Organists’ Association (NHOA) will demonstrate just how good she can sound with a varied programme of work from Gershwin to Bach, with Schubert, Morricone, Grieg and others in between.

Alongside the music there will be a bit about the history of the organ and an interview with none other than Emily Mangles herself…. In fact, we will have the original Emily’s great-great-great niece with us, who is also called Emily Mangles.

All this and cheese and wine too!

The concert is free but there will be an appeal during the evening. Unfortunately, when she was being restored some further problems emerged. This means that we have to raise some more money – another £2,000 is our target – and the restorers have kindly trusted us to do so and finished the job.

The organ is, in the words of Frances Whewell, one of the main people working to ensure that Emily could be restored: “a most marvellous present to St Mark’s which will enhance our worship and all the community events”. She most certainly is.

So come along, listen to Emily and enjoy a special evening on Saturday at 7.30pm at St Mark’s, Alma Lane,  Farnham, GU9 0LT.

Picture by George Britton:
georgebrittonphotography@gmail.com
Instagram – @g3xrg3

 

 

 

What a Shindig!

Come to the Music and Art Shindig at St Mark’s, Hale, this Saturday (June 8) from 1.30pm to around 7.30pm.

The event is part of the Farnham Flash Festival 2019 and is open to all.  There will be a wide selection of music all day, starting with a more classical orientation with piano and a trio singing a selection of light music, and ending with a rock and blues jam session in the evening.

There is a very special choir coming – Kindred Spirits, which is a forum for people with breast cancer to come together for support and friendship. They will be singing a fantastic set and then there will be South American guitar, instrumental electric guitar, electric blues and a peformance of folk roots music by Cajun Boogaloo.

It all takes place at St Mark’s, Alma Lane, GU9 0LT. Doors open at 1.15pm; cash bar and café in the afternoon; barbecue at 5.30pm. The Amazing Mr McDonut will provide uproarious entertainment at 5pm.

Entry is free so you can come and go as you please, and the layout is informal, café-style.

There will be the opportunity to make donations to the charity Mary’s Meals (marysmeals.org.uk) which works in 18 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean to provide meals for school children who would otherwise go hungry.

Christian Aid games afternoon cancelled

Unfortunately the Christian Aid games afternoon at St Mark’s, Hale, tomorrow (Thursday) has had to be cancelled. Our apologies.
However, there is still loads you can do to help Christian Aid which this year is focusing on providing maternity healthcare in Sierra Leone, the world’s most dangerous place to become a mother – every day 10 women die from giving birth. Christian Aid is helping support maternity healthcare in the country to reduce the numbers of women dying in childbirth.
Visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk to find out more.

Favourite jazz for two of Farnham’s favourites: Jean and Ted Parratt

 

St Mark’s Church, Hale, was packed earlier this month for an evening of jazz music and memories of two of Farnham’s best-known residents – the late Jean and Ted Parratt.

Jean and Ted’s daughter Wendy Edwards put on Caravan Jazz in memory of her parents and the music which they would listen to in the early years of her life when the family was living in a series of caravans in Lincolnshire.

Wendy was joined by Teddy’s Café Bar Jazzmen and vocalists Melissa Heathcote and Mike Twiddy to sing songs by jazz greats including Django Reinhardt, Gershwin, Glenn Miller, and Rodgers and Hart. In between, she showed pictures of her family and talked about the early years of her life between 1956 and 1962. Ted was away during the week on his National Service, so Jean was often alone caring for the three children in a small caravan in Lincolnshire.  Weekends were precious when Ted came home and played jazz on his guitar. These were what Jean later described as the ‘hungry years’ when there was little money and she often made potato soup with very few potatoes, but she also recalled them as among the happiest years in their lives.

The large audience was grouped around café-style tables, with refreshments, while they listened to the music which Jean and Ted had loved, and looked at family photos projected onto a screen.

Afterwards Wendy Edwards said: “A huge thank-you to everyone who helped in any way to make Caravan Jazz the great success it was. I thoroughly enjoyed singing with the talented Teddy’s Café Bar Jazzmen and vocalists Melissa Heathcote and Mike Twiddy.  I could not have managed this event without the help of so many people who willingly gave their time, talents and money. Many thanks to you all.”

The event raised £900 for the Kitty Milroy Murals appeal to restore and protect a series of important murals painted a century ago.

Frances Whewell

 

Bluebird caravan 1957

 

Top: Jean and Ted Parratt in a field in 1956;
Above: The Bluebird Caravan in which the family lived in 1957 at Mere Road Caravan Site, Waddington, Lincolnshire.

Saints, cadets and cake

St George’s and St Mark’s Churches are both holding celebrations this Sunday (April 28) in honour of the saints they are named after.

April 23 was St George’s Day and April 25 was St Mark’s Day so both churches are holding their patronal festivals that day.

At St Mark’s at 11am, the congregation will learn about the journey that St Mark made from being a young follower of Jesus (perhaps the young man who runs away naked at the end of the Gospel of Mark) to a mature disciple who, tradition has it, founded the church in Alexandria, Egypt, but with all too human problems on the way. After the service there will be cake in celebration of St Mark’s Day.

At St George’s there will be two services which remember England’s patron saint (who was probably born in what is now Turkey). The 10am service will be augmented by a parade by Farnham, Fleet & Aldershot Sea Cadets who meet just up the road from the church. As well as parading they will read the New Testament lesson. The celebrations will then continue at St George’s with Worship for All at 11.30am.

Come and join us at either church on Sunday.

 

Pictured above are Farnham, Fleet & Aldershot Sea Cadets.