I find February the silent beginnings of hope and promise. It is still cold but within the earth beneath my feet I am aware of things stirring; the first shoots of forgotten snowdrops, brave daffodils and hardy crocuses boldly begin to emerge.
In the season of the churches calendar we enter Lent – a time of deep reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter; the quiet before the noise, the waiting before the release of unbridled joy – a little like the struggle of those first shoots as they lay dormant in the hard ground, preparing to burst forth and share their colour and vibrancy with the world. It is a time to count our blessings, and as Charlie Mackesy puts it to be ‘grateful to have a glass’.
We are organising some lent lunches across the Benefice; a simple meal with some reflections, if you are interested in attending or would like to find out how you can be involved, do get in touch.
With love, Rev’d Kia
December 2023 and January 2024
Our magazine spans two months – one of the busiest and then January!
December sees a flurry of activity with preparations for the big day – shopping, decorating, planning, cooking and then comes January; arguably the greyest month of the year when the festivities are over, the decorations come down and life suddenly seems to lack colour! Our churches feel this too – packed services, from Christingle, the Crib service, Carols and Christmas day (the Sunday after Christmas isn’t called ‘low Sunday’ for nothing!).
Don’t get me wrong – who doesn’t love to see packed churches! But what happens after the tinsel is down, the presents put away and the diets begin?
Traditionally the Christmas period was much longer and feasting and partying continued for 12 days after 25th December – sounds exhausting but fun!
Christmas for Christians marks only the beginning – the hope and vulnerability of a new born baby, Emmanuel, meaning God with us. A God who promises to remain with us throughout the year, throughout the rest of our lives. A God who continues to offer us acceptance, love and a sense of belonging – even after the last of the decorations are put back in the loft for another year. And perhaps especially in the darkest of January days, a light to comfort and to guide – Christ is not just for Christmas!
With love for a joy filled and peaceful Christmas and New Year,
Rev’d Kia x
We live in a broken world amongst broken people, and never has this been more evident as we read and watch the news today.
As Christians, as imperfect people, we know the need for forgiveness and the desire to be made whole. In this month of Remembrance, we lament the wars, past and present, we grieve for those lost to us as we come together for our All Souls services and we also remember that we have hope.
Through all the brokenness we witness around us we have opportunities to glimpse the light, and to experience the beauty and the peace. If we have a faith, we can find this in the presence of God, who shows us that beauty through the pain, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
The picture illustrates this for me - brokenness is not the end, perhaps it is just the beginning of something even more precious.
October brings a chill to the air as we notice the change in season around us; the beauty of Autumn colours, perhaps the first fire being lit and hunting out those winter woollies we stowed away!
We are so blessed here in the Surrey Hills to easily appreciate the bounty of God’s creation in the magnificence of the landscape but also the small and delicate details of nature. God calls to us through the grand and the humble!
Traditionally it is a season of thankfulness as we gather in the harvest and give thanks for all we have. This year it is the turn of St. James to host our Harvest service on 1st October with a produce auction where we give food to the foodbank and any financial donations to charity.
This month also sees another opportunity to give thanks as we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Dedication of Christ Church – do look out for the special articles in this issue for ways you can come and join in the celebration!
Rev’d Kia 😊
September for me comes full of hope, new beginnings and opportunities but accompanying that I also carry a dollop of trepidation!
Perhaps this is as a result of my many years as a mother; soothing school nerves and worries as I prepared my children for their first day back at the start of a new term or a new school. Perhaps it also reminds me of my years as a school chaplain when I would need my own nerves soothed!
With new beginnings, with change, there is always an element of anxiety as we step into the unknown – after all we all like to feel in control!
As I look out across our churches and our community I wonder what this new academic year will bring; what changes and challenges we will face. But as I wonder and dream I am filled with a sense of purpose and hope. Whatever is ahead we have a God who goes before us, a God who walks with us and, if we allow it, a God who works within us.
I love this amazing picture of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, it reminds me that God has the whole world in his hands, that whatever we are facing, God has got it, he has got us.
So as we embrace September let us remember Jesus’ words,
“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”
Matthew 11 verses 28-30
As this is our summer edition spanning a couple of months may I wish you Happy Holidays with a chance to catch up with family and friends without the pressures of school runs or school traffic!
However and wherever you spend the summer may it refresh and revitalise you!
In August our churches take a fallow month; a pause in the normal cycle of services. Instead we join together, taking turns in our churches across the Benefice, so do keep the service schedule handy!
I would also like to say a huge thank you to ALL of you who made the Abinger Fair such a phenomenal success! From the Fair committee to the stunning flowers in church and to all the stall holders who worked tirelessly in 30-degree heat – a record year – Well Done!
I love our Churches; the history they span and the lives they have touched. This Year marks the 175th anniversary of our Church at Coldharbour and St. James has been knocking around since the 12th century.
I don’t know which one of my predecessors put this on the back of one of the cupboards in the vestry at St. James, but I love it.
It is a wonderful reminder of the man Jesus that we seek to follow. It speaks of a deep humility, a resilience and a love that has impacted generations worldwide. A real man, fully human yet fully divine.; it speaks of a God who was prepared to go to any lengths to demonstrate his love for us. A mystery that alludes us, compels us and inspires us throughout history, for today and for tomorrow.
Another exciting historical event that happens at Abinger every year is our Mediaeval Fayre!
Huge thanks to all who make this extravaganza possible, and I look forward to seeing you all there on Saturday 10th June!
With love and blessings
May is my favourite month – Spring has definitely arrived, we have lots of family birthday’s and this year is extra special as we celebrate the Coronation of King Charles 111 – and we have 3 bank Holiday Monday’s!
May also marks the beginning of village Fair season as we look forward to the wonderful Coldharbour Fair on Saturday 20th – lots of fabulous traditional stalls, crafts and music with a Coronation theme this year!
In the Church Calendar on Sunday 28th May we celebrate Pentecost. What, I hear you ask is that all about?
Pentecost, or Whitsun, remembers the coming of the Holy Spirit as he descended onto the disciples and other followers of Jesus in the upper room following Jesus, death, resurrection, and ascension. It was an unnerving time full of unanswered questions, confusion and fear. Then the Holy Spirit came filling the people with a renewed sense of calling, a hope for the future and confidence that they now had a guide, comforter and ally to help them live the way Jesus had taught them.
He is still with us – available to all and my prayer is that we all encounter the Holy Spirit afresh this May.
April is a joyous month! Lent is over and He is Risen!
We have a plethora of different services on offer across our churches including the sharing of the Lords Supper on Munday Thursday and quiet meditative reflections on Good Friday culminating in the celebration of Easter day - do have a look in the middle pages!
Our Messy Church continues to engage our young families across the villages (Second Saturday in the Month, St. James, 3-5pm) where we get creative, listen to a story and hare yummy food - do check us out if you
As our quote for the week alludes to - God does not live in Church! And when Jesus comes back, I doubt it's the first place he would visit! I'm sure we would find him at the homeless shelter or the hospice or wherever the outcast is.
This April as spring (hopefully!) erupts around us, let us cultivate our awareness of God in all things.
With every Blessing
I find Lent a challenging time – I guess I’m supposed to!
Lent in the Christian Calendar is a period of deep reflection and giving time to listen to God. That is why, traditionally, we give things up – not to lose weight or to jump start a new routine – but to put something down to make space for more of God.
‘Making time’ is something I think we can all struggle with. There are so many demands on us – from children to grandchildren, to work and leisure, to all the different societies and communities we are involved in. Often they are of our own choosing – and we do like to be busy don’t we?!
Slowing down is an alien concept in our success driven culture. But it is vital if we want a balanced and sustainable life. So can I encourage us this Lenten season to be counter-cultural? Take a moment to sit. Grab a cuppa. Pick up a book. Chat with God. Reflect on where you are and how you got there. And breathe!
Although it now seems an age ago I wanted to say how much we enjoyed our first Christmas here with you! From the plethora of families at the Christingle in Coldharbour to the chocolate telling the nativity story on Christmas day – we had such fun!
And so to February with it’s promise of spring and new life. There might not be much evidence of it yet, but just beneath our feet there are stirrings; as seeds break open, ready to release their energy into the world, buds begin to appear on the trees and the hardy snowdrops surprise us with their beauty.
The promise of things yet to come.
And for me, February heralds the beginning of Lent. Do look out for what’s on offer in your churches over this period – details are in the Parish News and our websites are great place to explore and are kept up to date by amazing and dedicated people!
With love and prayers
December 2022 and January 2023 - Christmas and the New Year
I love Christmas! Not quite so keen on January!
This year will hopefully see a return to normality so we can throw ourselves wholeheartedly into all the festivities including mince pie eating, mulled wine drinking and family frivolities!
Our churches too are full of opportunities to come together and celebrate this special time of year. Do pull out the centre pages of the Parish news and stick it on your fridge so as not to miss out on all that is on offer!
I'd like to draw your attention to just a couple of them;
- At Christ Church Coldharbour we have a wonderful community carol service on Monday 19th December 7pm with carols, readings and poetry.
- At St. James' Abinger we have a new offering of a Crib Service, 18th December 10:30am. This is an interactive scratch Nativity where you come dressed as your favourite nativity character (mainly for children but adult Shepherds and Angels also welcome!). There will be costumes available on the day in case you forget!
And in January we have a couple of Benefice services - January 1st at St. James, 10:30am and 29th January at St. Mary's Holmbury St. Mary, 10:30am.
I am so excited to be spending my first Christmas with you in these beautiful villages and look forward to welcoming you to our services,
Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. The light that enhances the turning of the leaves from green through red, brown and golden. As I walk my dogs through our lovely countryside this light enables me to see things otherwise hidden; as the sun shines through the trees and illumines the grass and the ferns, suddenly millions of intricate spider webs become visible – then the light moves, and they disappear.
This reminded me of this quote from Leonard Cohen.
It’s true as we look out at our world and it’s true as we look within ourselves too.
It is in our vulnerability, indeed our own ‘brokenness’ that our true light shines.
November is synonymous with remembering. We gather to pay our respects to the fallen in past conflicts (St. James’ 10:30 & Christ Church 10:50 on 13th November) and we have an opportunity to come together to remember loved ones we have lost over the years at our All Souls services.
Throughout the changing of the seasons and the ebb and flow of our lives we remain in the constant arms of our loving Father and his unchanging grace.
As I write we are in the period of Mourning for our beloved Queen.
Although it was inevitable, it has all come as a bit of a shock.
Personally, I have never known another Monarch and when I think of Kings, I think of history lessons and of times past. It will take a little getting used to.
I'm sure we all have our own memories of Her Majesty, and I don't know about you, but I have definitely learnt more about her life, her family and her service in the past weeks than I ever knew before.
My youngest daughter, who is 16, was never really interested in the Monarchy before this, but she has been blown away by the Queens dedication, service and sense of duty and has a new found respect for the Royal family as a whole.
It has been heart-warming to see the generations flocking to Windsor and London to pay their respects and show support for the Royals. A sense of unity among the nation reflecting the new unity we are witnessing among the Royal family itself. The Queen I'm sure would be proud.
What has come to the fore both within the Queen's life and now our new King, is their unwavering belief and reliance on God. Time and again we have heard their humility in acknowledging that they could not and cannot hold this responsibility without their faith in a God who strengthens and guides them.
Our churches have had dedicated areas of prayer and remembrance and books of Condolence have been available for us to write our messages of support and thanksgiving to a most remarkable Lady.
So much has been written and said - we just say - Thank you Ma'am.
Looking ahead we would love you to join us for our Harvest celebration on Sunday 2nd October as we join together at Christ Church at 11am followed by a light lunch.
As our first Messy Church had to be postponed this will now take place on Saturday 9th October 3-5pm at St. James. All families are welcome with children 0-11 years for an afternoon of craft, food, stories and fun!
Our Youth Alpha group continues to meet weekly - 12 teenagers asking the BIG questions - Why are we here? What's the purpose of life? Is God real? If you want to know the answers - ask a teenager! Ably supported with pizza and cake!
For all our services across the Benefice please see the centre pages of the October Parish News
And don't forget - I'm always up for a coffee/dog walk/chat!
With love and prayers
September always feels like the beginning of the year to me!
Maybe it's from having three children and the relief of a school term starting again (!) or from working in a school for a brief period, but even now I get a sense of new starts and fresh opportunities.
And so it is this September. There are lots of new initiatives happening across our churches - from Julian meetings, Messy Church and small group gatherings not to mention, a little closer to home, new jobs and new schools!
However, before I exhaust myself by just thinking about all the 'to do's' involved with these it is important to remember to carry with us the importance of ebb and flow, rest and work that we have enjoyed over the summer months!
With every blessing
The Sun is out,
The grass is ris,
I wonder when when my Holidays is’,
So my mother used to say around this time of year! Freedom has never tasted so good! With many of us having had to postpone our much anticipated travels from the last couple of years we, at last, free to roam.
Rest is a vital part of what it means to be human – we are, after all human beings, not human doings – something I find tricky to remember at times!
Sabbath rest is a concept we have distanced ourselves from over time. We are a driven race living in a competitive, success driven culture and so taking proper rest can be viewed as being self-indulgent and even lazy but it is crucial to our well-being.
Even God took a day off!
So whatever your plans over the summer months, sit back, relax and enjoy!
With every blessing
Reflections from the Rectory
Laughter and joy are a bit like yawning – they’re contagious!
Growing up I don’t ever remember seeing a picture of Jesus laughing, but I bet you he did – a lot! He loved a party, loved being with his friends and was definitely the one to have around if the bar ran dry!
I’m a fan of laughing, having fun and parties and I’m finding ample opportunity for all this within these beautiful villages and with the people I am meeting.
As the Abinger Mediaeval fayre approaches I find myself wondering what Jesus would make of it? I bet he would get stuck in – dress up, have a dance around the Maypole and be found propping up the bar and having a good ‘ole chuckle with his friends!
Well, if it’s good enough for him…….