Christ Church

The Vicar's Letters

TonyThese are Tony Berry's recent letters from the Abinger and Coldharbour Parish News. 

The references to the 'Rector's Desk' reflect the fact that while Tony is the Vicar of Coldharbour, he is the Rector of Abinger. 

September 2019
The new academic year has begun. September is a month of contrasts. For some it will be a new beginning, for others it simply means more of the same. While some of us recover from a time away, others will be looking forward to taking a break when everything is a lot less crowded.  The weather itself can reflect both summer and autumn.

Those two seasons have such a different feel. Summer seems bursting with potential and fulfillment, autumn has the inevitable sense of decline, or is it just my perspective that chooses to see things that way?

The disciples of Jesus experienced a roller coaster for the three or so years that they spent with Jesus. Sometimes it was full of potential; other times, so much was happening that they barely had time to catch their breath. On occasion it was quite challenging, even frightening, but there were also occasions when it seemed it was all pointless and had come to an end.

What was it that enabled most of them to stick with it, and make the most of it? We all know that packing for a holiday can be a nightmare, especially if we end up packing for others, or someone in the party has not recognised the laws of physics relating to volume and space. However we put up with it because we know that, at worst, we have to do it in order to go anywhere; or at best, because we are going to have a great time when we get there.

Something about spending time with Jesus made it all worthwhile. Indeed, in time, it was something that many of them were prepared to give their lives for. For them, life had become a perpetual September, still filled with the promise of summer despite all the difficulties associated with autumn.

Whatever you feel about September, l hope this month works out well. If it is change, may it bring much joy and excitement; if it is more of the same, may it bring much happiness and contentment.

From the Rector’s Desk 
First l am delighted to announce that the Revs David and Judith Grundy
will be moving into the Benefice in due course. David will be taking up the post of Associate Minister within the Benefice and be based in Holmbury.

Well it is time to look ahead, in the near distance we have a Pet’s service in St James’ on the 15th, do please join us for what might be a chaotic but fun time. That evening at Christ Church we have a repeat of Harbour Hymns - Christ Church’s answer to Songs of Praise. Do join us as members of our community choose hymns that have significance and meaning for them.

Looking a bit further, on the 21st in St James we are repeating our anti- slavery weekend of a few years ago.  Do join us for coffee and Danish  between 9.30 -11.30 and a chance to buy some early Christmas gifts made by those trying make a living to prevent getting into slavery. If you can’t make the morning then come between 2pm and 4pm that afternoon for tea and cake instead.

At the end of the month we have a Benefice service in Coldharbour at 10am, with input and design from those recently confirmed. Then the following week ,on the 6th of October, we have our joint Harvest service at Abinger at 10.30am.

Looking into the far distance can we give you a heads up about our annual shoe box appeal. We will probably be putting the boxes together on the weekend of 12/13th of October. So if you can start collecting toiletries, colouring books, scarves etc that would be great. If you want the full list please get in touch with the Parish Office

July and August 2019
It is tempting to think that, as this is a double issue of the Parish News, l can think about the summer and all the time people will spend away from home. But as l reflect on the people l know in the parish, the old “summer holiday “ idea doesn’t apply to many of them. Of course children will be off school but that doesn’t mean that the streets will be empty and no one will be around. It is hard to find a focus for activities however because different people will be off at different times and the holiday season for our community as a whole stretches in September. In today’s world the old ideas have changed and new ways of doing things, including holidays, have taken their place. Of course grumpy old men like me [and indeed l know a few like me in our communities, no names of course, but you know who you are] tend to hark back to the good old days. But as they say even nostalgia is not as good as it used to be

What does remain the same is our need for a break. It can become difficult to sustain a rhythm in life. Rest and relaxation are all part of that rhythm and we ignore it at our peril. Sometimes, with the energy that comes in one’s middle years it is hard to see the need; equally when life is lived at a fast pace in work, family  and social  lives, as often happens when you are younger, you can feel a desperate need to stop.

Jesus was keenly aware of both the demands of change and the need to rest.  He recognised that the religious stricture of the day didn’t match with the life most people were living. It excluded them from managing to see God the way Jesus knew Him to be. He spoke in terms of new wine in old wineskins and the danger of things being spoilt. It called for a new understanding. But he also saw that people needed to take real rest. He reminded his hearers that the Sabbath was made for people, so they could rest from the demands of life, he also encouraged his followers to take a break when they were very busy.

The church struggles to know how to help people meet the needs of how life is today. It wants to be relevant, but not lose sight of the timeless nature of its faith. It wants to engage with an unbelieving population but knows how easy it would be to compromise or give up the very
foundation on which it is built.

However that is more my problem than yours. What you need to do, if the weather ever gets anywhere near being summery is too make sure you make the most of it. Get out there and enjoy yourselves and come back refreshed, that is what summer is meant to be about.

From the Rector’s desk:
Both Fete and Fair were great events. The latter in spite of the rain – a big thank you to all who worked so hard to make them successes.

As usual, the pattern of services changes a bit over the summer, so do please check the Parish News for what is happening, where, and at what time.

Advance warning of St James’ Pet service in September on the 15th at 10.30 followed by a picnic lunch and a few games.

Also look out in other pages in the Parish News for our concern about modern slavery and what we might do to combat it.

June 2019
Mid-summer approaches! Where did the first half of the year go? Stupid opening really, but l find it difficult to think that by the end of the month the days will be closing in already. I don’t really feel that the year has begun yet but the calendar doesn’t lie, we are where we are. All those New Year resolutions that were time limited still incomplete All those things that need to be done in spring and didn’t get done. All the things that help get ready for any summer break queuing up to be sorted so you can get away. Is it any wonder that life can feel that it is, or has, run away from you? It is so hard to differentiate from the urgent and the important, from the necessary and preferable, from the inconsequential and the desirable. Sadly although most of these dilemmas are first world issues they are still ones that exercise our time, our energy, and our resources.

The first disciples of Jesus lived in a very different world. Their lives depended on a very different sort of economy. Their options were far more limited. They were subject to all sorts of vagaries and changing circumstances over which they had no control and although this was first century Palestine much of our world today finds itself in a similar position [albeit with a different sort of technology available which has both advantages and disadvantages]. Yet Jesus spoke to them about an approach to life which may speak as much to us in the Western world of the 21st century.

His simple sentence saying “ why worry about tomorrow, tomorrow has enough worries of its own”, challenges us to let go of a lot that can wear us down. His attitudes to the necessities of life reminding us that beauty and provision can still be found in most circumstances and are not as vital as we sometimes make them out to be. His warning about how some reaction patterns can end up being destructive, not just to the psyche but even to life itself.

I don’t think Jesus wants us to throw the baby out with the bathwater and live life like a first century middle eastern person, but l do think by paying attention to his insights on life we can get rid of the dirty water and enjoy not just holding the baby but playing with it, having fun with it and see it grow, and just maybe surprise us with where it all ends up.

Enjoy the summer in all its fullness!

From the Rector’s Desk
A big thank you to all those who worked so hard to make the Coldharbour Fete go so well. Special thanks to the stall holders and to those who gave up time to set it all up….and take it all down again!
The church looked wonderful as it does every year, thanks to the endeavours of our flower ladies. 

Do join us on the green at Abinger Common for the Abinger Fair on Saturday 8th June.
Special services in June:

On Sunday 9th June, there will be a United Pentecost service for Abinger and Coldharbour at Christ Church Coldharbour - starting at 10.00am. 

All Age Father’s Day services will take place in both churches on Sunday 16th June - 9.30am at Christ Church and 10.30am at St. James’. 

On Sunday 30th June, St. Mary’s Holmbury will be hosting a Leith Hill Benefice service starting at 10.00am. 

Please join us if you can at any or all of the above.

May 2019
The summer term is upon us. Two bank holidays to look forward to, and the variety of community activities that the summer season brings.

These activities demand a great deal of time and energy to put on, and it always amazes me, that given the stress involved, we never seem to end up like Midsommer, and have a murder or two as the events unfold. Far from it, these activities seem to build and reflect our communities.

Each year people are prepared to play a part, sometimes it feels that it is the same group valiantly putting things together, but the truth is that although it feels like that, each year one or two begin their involvement and the events roll on year by year taking each crisis as it comes and probably being the stronger for it, although it may not feel like it at the time. We are indebted to those who work so hard on our community’s behalf.

Right in the middle of this season of activity is the church’s celebration of Pentecost or Whitsun as it used to be known. This celebration of the birth of the church is also a celebration of the way God uses people. He changed those disciples of old from a group of rather anxious people into fellowship of determined and committed followers.

He brought out peoples gifts and used them to the benefit of not just their friends, but to people all around them. Their willingness to be involved, to use their time, energy and money for the greater good meant that the church grew from a small number of people who had heard Jesus physically, to a worldwide movement of people who had heard Jesus in a spiritual manner.

Sometimes the circumstances of the present prevent us from learning from the past. We worry about how we will manage to continue given all the difficulties we face. Yet the story of the church from those early days is that God is much bigger than circumstances and the message of Pentecost is that He will bring out the right gifts for the right time. Over time things will change and develop and we might be anxious about finding people to fill certain gaps but the Church will continue, God has not let it disappear yet, and l don’t believe He is about to now.

From the Rector’s Desk.
A very big thank you to Christ Church for hosting the Benefice Mothering Sunday service. And also a very big thank you to Patsy Simpson for the lovely posies we were able to give to every lady present, they were beautiful.

Continuing in that vein, a big thank you to all the flower ladies who made our churches look so lovely on Easter day.

Don’t forget the Coldharbour fete on the 18th!

Thanks also to those who helped with the spring clean at St James’, especially Sally our hardworking Parish secretary who organised it all.