Thought for the Week

Today we celebrate the miracle of the empty tomb, “Alleluia Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”. I wondered, if we would have hesitated on the threshold of the tomb like the energetic disciple who got there first? I wonder if we hesitate to share our faith? Today is not the day for hesitation,  but it is a day to shout out joyfully that Christ has conquered death. This is good news, in a world were we are bombarded by bad news. So let’s proclaim it from the roof tops—Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

 

An Egg-citing Journey…

Come to St James Churchyard, Elstead to go on an egg-citing journey to Easter.

 From 27th March – 11th April 2021

 Scan the QR code to hear the story for each day.

 Booklets are available in the church porch.

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Week

 

The mood of Lent changes this weekend as we arrive in Jerusalem with Jesus and celebrate Palm Sunday. Although, Palm Sunday is a joyful occasion and we greet Jesus as a King, “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, I always wonder if I, like so many in the crowd, would have gone from shouting Jesus’ praise and glory to calling for his execution just a few days later. So, Palm Sunday,  forms part of our Lenten self examination and is the first step on our Journey through Holy Week. I would like to invite you to be fellow Pilgrims on the journey towards the cross in the week ahead by joining in with our online reflections on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I will be using well known hymns to help us consider the events of Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday there will be a service and short vigil at St James before we consider the events of Good Friday with services at St Nicholas and St Michael’s. If we don’t move through the events of Holy Week, it is like only reading the beginning and end of book but then we don’t know all the plot twists that have happened in the middle! As a well known hymn reminds us, “ We are pilgrims on a journey, fellow travelers on the road…”

Thought for the Week

During our Lent Prayer Group this week, Ursula led us through an Examen prayer exercise. This method of prayer encourages us to examine our day to recognise God’s activity in it. I don’t know about you, but I often replay the events of the day in my mind as I go to bed or wake up at 4am to replay them. The examen is an excellent way of praying through the day, offer our thoughts and concerns to God, and hopefully result in a peaceful night. The method uses 4 R’s.

Replay—recall the last 24 hours and see where God is present.

Rejoice—at the things were good.

Repent—is an opportunity to say sorry

Resolve—looking forward in a renewed way to live tomorrow for Christ.

This is another method of prayer which we have looked at over the last few weeks. You may find it useful but my encouragement would always be the same, it doesn’t matter how you pray, just pray.

We may find ourselves feeling quite helpless in the face of events around us, but Christians across the world are encouraged to pray for the world, our communities and each other. So let’s pray!

 

Share a Prayer

INVITATION TO SHARE  PRAYER

Tuesday 23rd March is a National Day of Reflection on the anniversary of the start of the first lockdown in 2020  and our churches will be open during the day for us to visit and remember all those who have died from Covid 19.

In the evening, the Lent Group will meet for the final session to consider once again what it means to pray and it seems a particularly appropriate way to end  this Day of Reflection.  So on this occasion, we would like to encourage everyone  to join us on Zoom at 7pm to SHARE A PRAYER.

 Do you have a favourite prayer?

Maybe one that has sustained you through the unprecedented times of last year?

Maybe one that you pray each morning ….or each evening?

Or perhaps one that was important for you during a particular time in your life…the birth of a child, the death of a family member, a time of joy or thanksgiving?

It may be a well-known prayer such as the Prayer of St Francis, a Collect or

prayer from a Church service or the words of a hymn that you pray, a prayer you learnt as a child or perhaps a prayer you have penned yourself.  Prayers by children or suitable for families would be particularly welcome.

Whatever it may be, would you be prepared to SHARE YOUR PRAYER with us and, if you feel comfortable, to say a few words about why it means a lot to you? (If you would prefer, someone else can read it out for you).

If you are not able to join us, we would still love to hear what prayer (or prayers) you would choose.   So do please email your prayer and source/author/book that it comes from (if applicable) or fill in the form and drop it in at the Rectory in Elstead or to one of the churches preferably by Monday 22nd March.  We hope to compile an ETSPH collection of favourite prayers which could be used as part of the process of building praying communities.  As Revd Hannah wrote a couple of weeks ago:

“Through prayer the impossible becomes possible. I would like to see                      our parishes developing into strong praying communities”.

DO JOIN US ON 23RD MARCH AT 7PM ON ZOOM

Invitation to share a prayer

Emailed responses please to office@parishesofetsph.org

 

Thought for the Day

Revd Delia writes:  the national debate this week has been about racism through the eyes of the individual receiving hurtful comments and the consequences of family relationships breaking down, with the mental strains that brings. We see how words can hurt and give long lasting scars, which makes rebuilding family relationships more difficult, and can lead to serious mental health concerns. We know that forgiveness and love is the way out, but just as it is easy to say that, it is not so easy to do. For it is those that we love the most who can hurt us the most, with unkind, and maybe unintended criticism, combined with actions which create a gulf between us.

Lent is a time for self examination in the light of Christ, so let us all consider how our words can cause harm, or give grace and love.  St James warns us in his Epistle about the dangers of letting our tongues have full rein as he says “with it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” He urges us “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger”.

The first task then is to LISTEN.

 

Thought for the Week

This week during our Lent Prayer session Revd John Henstridge led us through a guided meditation based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius

of Loyola. Ignatian spirituality encourages us to pray using our imagination. You use your imagination to place yourself in the gospel narrative using your senses and your emotions to draw closer to Jesus. Some of us attending the session found it easier to pray using our imaginations, others found it more difficult. St Ignatius recognised that some people may struggle with this method of prayer and meditation that we should “pray as you can, not as you can’t.” Praying is not just about asking God for things, it is about building a relationship. In 1 Chronicles 16 we read, “Seek the Lord and his strength,  seek his presence continually.” St Ignatius’s method of prayer is a technique to help us build a closer relationship with God. If you would like to try it you could use the following websites to get you started, https://taketime.org.uk/ or https://pray-as-you-go.org/

Other ways you might like to renew your prayer life this Lent is by:

Being persistent—„It’s ok to ask, ask again, and keep asking God until we see a change.

 

Being unpredictable—„If you struggle to focus during times of prayer, try something more interactive: use dice and assign someone you want to pray for, roll the dice and spend a few minutes on the prayer assignment it gives you.

 

Alternatively take your prayers to the streets – go to a specific place in your area and pray over it.

 

Being Kind—„Random acts of kindness are an easy way of making prayer practical and positive. It can move our focus away from our needs, and onto the needs of others.

„I would like to add St Ignatius’s statement, “pray as you can, not as you can’t, but just pray.”

 

Thought for the Week

On Tuesday a small group gathered for the first Lent Session on prayer. (Please do join next week if you can). We discussed the Lord’s Prayer and how sometimes it can said automatically, by rote, without thinking. I

encouraged the group to say the Lord’s Prayer slowly, thinking about each line and then reflect on which line of the prayer jumped out at them and took on greater meaning. By praying the prayer slowly, it gives God the

opportunity to speak afresh to each of us. I would like to encourage all of us to try this exercise this week. God can be in the  familiar but often we don’t notice Him.

Other ways you might like to renew your prayer live this Lent is by

Being God-conscious—Learning  to be constantly aware of God’s presence

Being Balanced—structure you prayers using the ACTS acronym:

A is for Adoration

C is for Confession

T is for Thanksgiving

S is for Supplication

Be Silent—we live in a noisy world, find some time to build stillness into your day.

Through prayer the impossible becomes possible. I would like to see  our parishes developing into strong praying communities.

 

 

 

Lent Newsletter

Dear Friends,

As I come to the end of my first year in the parishes and my second Easter, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write to you and share some of my reflections from the past year and the plans for Lent and Easter 2021.

It has been an incredible first year, and much of it has been about crisis management and making tough decisions about the way we worship. Throughout the pandemic, I have reluctantly closed the church buildings with the support of the Revd Delia, PCCs and the Church wardens. This has meant that after nearly a year in the parishes, I am yet to meet many of you in person, either on the church doorstep or over a cup of tea. I think the common phrase for the past year has been, “when things return to normal”. Realistically, our way of worshipping across the parishes will never look like it did in the past. This is because of the number of clergy serving the three parishes has drastically reduced. We simply cannot offer the same number of services in each parish pre my appointment and pre COVID-19.

Covid has meant that we have had to embrace new ways of worshipping. Within a month of my arrival last year, we had started our Sunday morning services on Zoom. What a steep learning curve for us all! We have had to try to work out how to turn the camera on, how to mute and unmute and how we can include singing in our services without sounding too much like a cacophony and more like a “joyful noise”. Most weeks we now have a reasonably fluent service, and we are now able to livestream from St James Church to our YouTube channel each week. Covid has also enabled us to come together as a group of parishes and worship together much more quickly out of necessity. It has planted the seeds of friendship and cooperation for the future.

So, how might the future of our parishes look? Of course, there are still so many unknowns and we still have to be flexible as we continue to live through a pandemic. One thing I am sure of is that the “mixed-mode of Church” which is a combination of worshipping online and in our church buildings is here to stay. This means that resolving Wi-Fi issues in Thursley and Shackleford and Peper Harow needs to be a priority. Wi-Fi in the buildings offers the opportunity to share services, weddings, funerals, and baptisms with those who live far away or who might not be able to attend.  It makes the churches more accessible and moves us into the 21st Century.

From a church perspective, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we can no longer continue to simply maintain the model of church that has existed before. It challenges us to look again at our mission of making disciples in our communities. How do we continue to reach out to those who appreciate a more traditional style of church worship and who do not engage with technology? How do we engage with families? How can we offer hospitality? How do we reach out to those in our communities and share the love of Christ but also let them know that the church is still here, it is still open, and it is still relevant? These are questions we need to ask and answer together as our parishes move closer together. These are the issues we need to pray about as we seek God’s vision for the future of our Parishes. These are not questions and issues Delia and I can resolve on our own. Each of us have a role to play in partnering with God to seek his will for the future of our Parishes.

As we move into the season of Lent, this is the perfect opportunity to explore through our Lent groups, online on a Tuesday evening, from 7-8pm how and why we pray. Lent presents a time to go deeper with God. And in our prayers during this season, we can ask God how we can be involved in shaping the future of the parishes. Lent is a time of self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study, and preparation for Easter. We can do this by using the “Live Lent” resources: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/livelent-2021-church-resources-gods-story-our-story .

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year is on the 17th  of February. We will be having an Ash Wednesday service via Zoom at 7pm.

We are hoping to have a gradual return to the church buildings during Lent and Holy Week. More information is available on our Opening Churches Page https://parishesofetsph.org.uk/worship/opening-churches-for-sunday-worship/

Of course, this has the caveat that if the virus numbers go up, we may have to consider staying online for our worship.

I look forward to journeying through Lent and Holy Week with you.

Every Blessing,

Hannah

 

Thought for the Week

As I mentioned in the service last week, we are proposing a gradual return to in person worship in March alongside our online services. Our hope is that we will be able to journey through Holy Week together, with a mixture of

services in Church and Online. Palm Sunday Services will take place in Elstead and at Shackleford and then on Easter Sunday there will be a

service in each of the Parishes. We are being cautious in our return to the Church buildings as the virus has not gone away, and not everyone has been vaccinated.  I am hopeful for my second Easter in the Parishes we will be able to be in the buildings ringing the bells and proclaiming the resurrection of Christ.

As we look to the future, this form of “mixed mode of church”, which is services online and in person is something we will need to get used to.

Revd Hannah

Thought for the Week

Christingle is a simple, visual reminder of God’s love for the world and each of us. By lighting our Christingle candles, we continue with the theme of light which we started last week with Candlemas. At this time of year when the greyness of the skies persist, it is good to remind ourselves that “Christ is the light of the world”, shining his light into the darkest of situations. In our

figures of speech we recognise that light brings clarity, hope and generally make us feel better, for example “ a light at the end of the tunnel”, “soaking up the sun, “in the fresh light of morning. Light can come in many forms, at the moment the “light at the end of the tunnel” is the vaccine. As we

embraced the hope that the vaccine gives us for a return to a new normal, we may need to pray for a bit more patience!

Revd Hannah

 

 

Thought for the Week

As someone who was afraid of the dark as a child and still weary of the dark as an adult, I love the images of light over powering darkness in the bible. Soldiers were discouraged from lighting cigarettes on the front-line for a  number of reasons. Firstly, by striking a match your eyes are no longer acclimatized to the dark and you can not see as well. Secondly, you would give your position away. It is believed that on a dark night, a lit cigarette can be seen from 3.1 miles away on flat land. Some scientists have claimed that a flickering candle can be seen 30 miles away on a dark night! So as someone who is

Nyctophobic, I love the words found in John 1, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” And today as we  celebrate Candlemas, we light candles to commemorate the

presentation of Jesus in the temple and  the words of Simeon remind us that Jesus is a light to the world. If the light of Christ rests in each one of us, how are we going to let it shine so that more people can see it and respond to Christ as the Light of the world.

Revd Hannah

Thought for the Week

At the moment, the world can seem very dark and watching the news can make me, and perhaps you too, feel very distressed and depressed. Covid has led to a new phenomenon, “Doom scrolling”, this is the act of consuming a large quantity of negative online news at once. Mental health experts have stated that the practice can be detrimental to mental health. To counteract this negative news, I have felt a huge sense of responsibility to point towards hope and that God is alongside us in this virus.

I was reflecting with my Spiritual Director this week, that Christians need to “hold the line”. By this, I mean we are called to cling onto hope, to look for signs of God in our midst and to pray. I came across the well known poem, ‘Footprints in the Sand’ and was reminded that during “the times of struggle, when we only see one set of footprints in the sand, it was then that God was carrying us.” Yes, we are called to “hold the line”, but we can also lament our situation, our loss, our pain and our hurts. I think our faith is weaker without taking time to lament. Our prayers should include cries of “how long, oh Lord, how long?” How long will this situation continue? We need to acknowledge that we are waiting for God to respond and to have patience. This is an   honest faith, a mature faith. David, who we are told in the bible, was “a man after God’s own heart”, shouted out to God from the depths of a pit, if he can do it, so can we!

So, let’s cry out to God in our prayers, for each other, and our community; let’s take time to lament and lay our pain at the foot of the cross. Let’s protect our Mental Health by consuming only as much of the news as is really good for us.

Hannah

Sunday Sermon – 17th January 2021

Here is the text from Hannah’s Sunday Sermon on the Call on Samuel and Nathanael.

“Come and See”, Phillip said to Nathanael after he had met Jesus. “Here I am”, said Samuel to God when responding to his call. These stories in the bible are examples of “call narratives” and they are included to show us how different people responded when God called and asked them to follow him. I wonder how we respond as God calls each one of us? Perhaps, we respond as Samuel did, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Or do we think we are living through an age where visions of God are seldom seen. One of the challenges that the pandemic presents is how do we invite others to “come and see”, come and meet God if we are unable to offer hospitality. Perhaps, our hospitality could be in the form of a phone call or a note through someone’s door or even an invitation to our zoom services.

What unique contribution are you being asked to contribute to the world?Answering God V3 2021 Sam 3 1 -10 1 John 47-51

Plough Sunday 10th January 2020

Bible Readings and Revd Hannah’s Sermon for Plough Sunday

Compline Service for 10th January 2021

https://youtu.be/HfgTK2t0Ynk

 

 

 

Worshiping Online for the time being.

It has been with a heavy heart that I have decided to close the churches again and worship digitally for the next few weeks. This decision has not been taken lightly and it has only been taken after consultation with Delia, and the Churchwardens. I have consulted with clergy colleagues in neighbouring parishes to see what they are planning.

I am aware that we are not engaging fully with all our congregations, for   example: those who attend the 8am service and who do not worship online; and the children and families.

This Sunday was supposed to be the relaunch of our all age services under the banner of JAM (Jesus and Me) but we have decided to delay this until we can meet safely in person.

We are working on creative ways to engage with all our congregations. So, in the next few weeks, we will be sending out some material for those who are at home and don’t use Zoom. I will also be recording some of the Bob Hartman Bible stories and uploading them to the Parishes YouTube      Channel. I would also like to add a Bible verse and daily prayer to our     website and YouTube Channel. If you would like to get involved with this please let me know. I would like to start uploading these readings and    prayers from the 18th January.

Ten months on from the first lock-down, I think we have learnt so much and we can continue to support and encourage one another. Words from Psalm 23 are relevant as we face this new lock-down, “even though I walk through a dark valley. Your rod and staff will protect me.” God is with us as we journey through the dark valley and there is a real light at the end of the tunnel as the government rolls out the vaccine. In the meantime, we need to press on and press into God and his presence. He is, after all, Emmanuel, God with us.

Revd Hannah

 

New Year, New Challenges.

Welcome to the Parishes of Elstead, Thursley, Shackleford and Peper Harow. We are three parishes coming together to worship God and serve our local communities.

I wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year. We are of course facing new challenges thrown at us by the pandemic.

Although, we are in a new National Lock down, the rules about gathering for worship in the buildings are still being reviewed and we are waiting for advice from the Diocese and the National Church.

Please be patient as we access the safest way to offer church services to our local communities.

Revd Hannah

Advent counting down to Christmas – Day 3

3rd December. Mary with a Bump

Today’s picture is of Mary looking both thoughtful and happy with her hand on her baby bump. Our picture is inspired by the verses in Luke that tell us that the angel said to Mary, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus…The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,”

(Luke 1:31, 35, 46-47 NIV)

Advent counting down to Christmas – Day 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYtTBakxX5c&t=1s

2nd December. The Angel and Mary

Today’s picture is of the angel talking to Mary.  This is what happened: “The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you” …Mary was confused by the angel’s words and wondered what they meant. Then the angel told Mary, “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you,” (Luke 1:28-30 CEV)