My late mum, Jean Parratt, used to give me Victorian hymn books. I was always surprised how many of the hymns I just didn’t know at all. Just as ordinary music evolves over time, so does church music. God is always doing a new thing and we don’t always like the new thing!
We’re all different and that includes our musical preferences, both inside and outside church. One way I connect with God inside and outside church is through singing. I recently discovered that the Holy Spirit connected me with Jesus via modern worship songs I didn’t even think I liked at the Family Service on the second Sunday of the month. This service used to be called JAM (Jesus and Me) but have no fear, it is still about Jesus and You/Me or so I discovered, to my surprise.
I thought that I didn’t like modern worship songs. I learned hymns at Farnham Girls’ Grammar School between 1969 and 1973 then at Farnham College for the following year. We didn’t go to church when I was young, so my main hymn knowledge is from school assemblies. I’m a bit of a traditionalist on the hymn front.
However, in March and in April 2022, I attended the Family Service at St. James’ Elstead, and I was very surprised to be moved strongly by the Holy Spirit on both occasions through singing the modern worship songs I thought didn’t work for me!
When I feel the Holy Spirit (as I interpret this and the sensation or experience may be a bit different for you or you may not feel this at all but feel a calm or comfort descend, perhaps) I feel a definite, pleasant physical sensation which seems to start in my brain, move down my neck and into my arms, leaving, I presume, safely through my fingertips. I have sometimes also felt this sensation in prayer with others or when hearing a Bible passage read, in other parts of the church service or when feeling unusually grateful to God for something also.
I didn’t expect this connection with God at all when I went into church that day. It was lovely. I can’t guarantee it will happen for you (isn’t grace so often something which arrives when we don’t expect it?) so you may also like to know that some other things I liked about the service were: –
- seeing young children and their parents in church, relaxing and enjoying being together in a place of faith. I especially liked seeing one young girl, aged about 4, playing in the pulpit. The pulpit is rarely occupied now most leading, and preaching is from the lectern, but I feel that Jesus would surely approve of a young child, behaving like a child, playing hide and seek in the pulpit. Children and adults can dance in the aisle or in their pews as the Spirit moves them. Long gone are the days when children were seen but not heard in church.
- seeing older congregation members there too, actively taking part. I counted 14 older congregation members who, like me, are past the first flush of youth by quite a few years- so they were more than one third of the total number of adults which impressed me- all ages are welcome at Family Services. We are all members of the church family and if we don’t see children in the services we attend, maybe we need to go to services where the children are.
- seeing young children in the chancel, sitting on the floor, comfortably, eagerly around Hannah while she taught them about prayer, using her fingers as reminders of who to pray for.
- knowing that many of the children attend St. James School, a Christian school, or will do in time and that their monthly visits to the Family Service may set them on the path of a lifelong Christian faith, their parents also providing them with a Christian upbringing, which, for various reasons, I did not have as a child.
I do understand that there has been so much change for so many of us, especially in the last few years, that it is hard to accept changes in church too. For many of us, the familiar comfort of a known liturgy we can recite by heart or hymns with familiar tunes are so important to our basic faith and security that any change can feel scary but please do take heart.
As the old hymn says, ‘Everything changes but God changes not’ and ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’ (Hebrews 13.8)
Don’t hide at home on second Sundays. Seek a new connection with God at the Family Service. You might be as surprised as I was.
Although we are returning to Plan A advice we will continue to work hard to keep everyone safe at our services.
It is recommended that the following advice is adhered to
* Please take a lateral flow test and if you have any symptoms of Covid, please be advised to join us on zoom
* Please wear a mask, unless you are exempt
* Please keep your mask on throughout the service
* Maintain your social distance from those not in your household.
* Please use the sanitiser provided to wash your hands
* Please keep your movement around the church to a minimum
* Please take any service leaflets home with you
All Creatures of our God and King
Pet Blessing Service
St. Michael and All Angels, Thursley on Sunday 17th October 2021
All creatures of our God and King certainly filled St. Michael and All Angels, Thursley almost to capacity for a chaotic but truly joyful and successful Pet Blessing Service on Sunday 17th October 2021.
Over 60 human creatures worshipped God and sang 6 beautiful hymns and other songs which Rob, our organist, played, including Teddy Bears Picnic and How Much is that Doggie in the Window?
Many more of God’s creatures gave us their best, most worshipful vocal noises too. A Shetland pony and a donkey, who were welcomed right into church, whinnied, and munched on treats. Many dogs of various species, small and large, barked, woofed, sniffed, and wagged their happy tails. Errol, the pigeon, cooed and stretched his wings.
We even welcomed a ferret in a cage (whose name I didn’t catch) who seemed rather quiet but perhaps his dooking (as a ferret’s happy noises are apparently called) was drowned out by all the other happy animal and human sounds.
We all made such a joyful noise with such gusto that the 14th century timber tie-beams supporting the belfry resounded with our worship of God and our grateful thanks for the animals, God gives us for company and support. All Things Bright and Beautiful, all creatures great and small had rarely felt so powerful and appropriate.
Who Put the Colours in the Rainbow (who put the hump on the camel, who taught the honeybee to dance?) had us thinking of the variety, intricacy, and behaviours of animals on earth, among other aspects of God’s creation.
All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir confirmed the very warm, fun welcome, all God’s creatures will get, not just in the choir but inside the church at St. Michael and All Angels, Thursley.
Think of a World without any Trees (think of a world without any animals, think of a dawn without any bird) helped us reflect on the danger of extinction so many animals face and how we need to care for the animal world much better than we sometimes do.
All Creatures of our God and King helped us all praise God and God’s creation with heart-felt hallelujahs.
We thanked God for the beauty, glory, and abundance of creation, acknowledging our responsibility to the animal world. We said sorry for our failures to care for the animal world through thoughtlessness and cruelty and were assured of Christ’s forgiveness and eternal love. We asked God for strength and grace to pursue the welfare and protection of animals, making a solemn promise that we would take our responsibility towards animal care seriously.
Our Old Testament Bible reading was from Isaiah 11.6-9 (the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, looking forward to perfect peace and safety for all, an effective return to paradise, when all shall have knowledge of God) and Hannah read a moving story, God’s Delight by Trevor Dennis. This imaginatively described God’s delight in the animals and angels God created. I had never considered how many angels might fit on the head of a pin before.
Hannah preached about her experience of growing up with a menagerie of animals and how they had helped her at so many points of her life when she most needed help. She blessed every animal in church individually, blessed all the human creatures collectively and sent us out with
‘God has blessed our animals and our relationships with them. He has filled our hearts with life and love and laughter and sends us on our way rejoicing. So go in peace to love and serve the Lord.’
A rousing rendition of You Shall Go Out with Joy brought to a close a thoroughly enjoyable, informal, welcoming and inclusive Pet Blessing service at St. Michael and All Angels, Thursley which finished inside with coffee or outside with bowls of water or saucers of milk!
Do join us any Sunday at 10.00am. You will find a very warm welcome awaits you.
We extend a warm welcome to you from the parishes of St James’ Church, Elstead, St Michael and All Angels Church, Thursley, St Mary’s Church, Shackleford and St Nicholas’ Church, Peper Harow.
We look forward to meeting you and getting to know you.
Join Us for a Special Service on
11 July at 11.30am on The Rectory Lawn, Elstead
Bring your Picnic, Teddy Bears, chairs, or a blanket for a Teddy Bear Picnic Service.
Garden Games will be available.
The Latest Covid Guidance will be observed.
As we come out of the lock-down, our monthly service rota (below) reflects a recovery phase. Delia and I are proposing to run the rota in this form until the end of August and then reviewed it. As we have come together as three parishes, we need to consider the limited clergy resources we have to cover services at all the churches. I understand that many of you might be disappointed at the limited services on offer in each parish at the moment. I also appreciate the emotional connection to your local parish church. Our Gospel passage this week encourages us to “abide in the vine”, with the new parishes setup our vine and branches extend over a wider geographical area. So in order to “abide” in God and the community, we will need to consider traveling to the other churches in the grouping to attend services more regularly and also to get to know people in the wider parish’s community. We will also need to consider how we resource more services in each Parish in the
|8.00 am||9.30 am||10.00 am||6.00 pm|
|1st Sunday||PH BCP Comm||El—CW Comm & Zoom|
|2nd Sunday Families||El – BCP Comm||10.30 Family at El||Zoom Evening Service|
|3rd Sunday Thursley||Th – CW Comm||Zoom|
|4th Sunday Sh & PH||El – CW Comm.||PH & SH alternating
Are you a survivor or victim of church related abuse? Could you help the Diocese of Guildford to learn from the past and protect the future?
The Diocese of Guildford is currently reviewing all its records, across all 162 parishes, to ensure that all safeguarding concerns and allegations have been identified, reported, and appropriately actioned. Critical to this, is the voice of survivors and victims. The Diocese of Guildford wants to listen to and to learn from your experiences and ensure that your voices are heard throughout this review process.
Anybody who would like to give information or make disclosures about church-related abuse is asked to contact Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor, Jackie Broadfoot (email@example.com 07918 559387).
Support is available
The Diocese recognises that coming forward may be extremely difficult and dedicated support has been set up for you. Two confidential listening services have been set up, for those people who have experienced church related abuse but who might want to talk through their experiences and feelings before taking any next step. To find out more about the support available click https://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/about/safeguarding/past-cases-review-2-(pcr2)
Building the safest community we can
Bishop Andrew, Diocesan Bishop for the Diocese of Guildford explains why we are doing this: “It is important we do everything we can to make our churches the safest places they can be. Safe means different things to different people but this review will help us to ensure that the concerns reported to our churches have been dealt with properly, and the care taken and the support given is of the high quality that people rightly deserve. We have learnt from a previous review that that survivors and victims’ voices are critical, and I would urge you to come forward.”
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 Empty Tomb
A Sad Day
Denial and Trial
Betrayal and Arrest
Garden of Gethsemane
The Last Supper
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.
Reflections for Holy Week: Monday to Wednesday, 6pm
Join our journey to Easter Sunday using pictures and well known hymns.
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…”
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!
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
Emailed responses please to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.”
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.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.”
Learning more about Prayer during Lent.
If you would like to learn more about prayer,
different types of prayer and why we pray. Why not join the Lent Group which will take place on the following Tuesdays from 7pm – 8pm via Zoom?
February 23rd, March 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd
Meeting ID: 880 0781 7559
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.
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.
Join Revd Hannah for Morning Prayer
Join Revd Hannah for today’s morning prayer.
Morning Prayer Led by Sue
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!
Join Revd Hannah for today’s Morning Prayer
Sue leads us in Morning Prayer
Join Revd Hannah for Morning Prayer
Join Revd Hannah for a shortened form of Morning Prayer
Join Revd Hannah for today’s Morning Prayer at the start of a new month.
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.
Join Revd Hannah for today’s Morning Prayer
Join Revd Hannah for Morning Prayer