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. 

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.

April 2019
As I write the people of New Zealand are still coming to terms with a mass killing in Christchurch; friends of ours are visiting their daughter who lives there and one can only guess at what their feelings are. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who mourn the violent loss of a loved one, and those who survived the traumatic event.

We all face surprising events at some point in our lives, not on this tragic scale perhaps; but certainly things that make us sit up and ask questions about human nature, the fragility of life and maybe even the meaning of our existence. For some no doubt those can be life changing events, but l guess for most of us, the moment passes; and we are none the wiser, despite all the questions that have been raised and the time we have spent pondering on them. Answers are often in short supply, or so it seems.

At the 2018 Beach Mission we held a Sports Quiz Night as in previous years it was very popular, over 60 people crammed into the venue. What is it that makes people come to such an occasion, is it simply the competitive spirit? Indeed our friends, referred to earlier, are often at those quizzes and are fiercely competitive I’ve seen it within our own parish boundaries too!. It is all good fun, but underneath it all is the satisfaction that we can answer stuff, and that is a good feeling.

Yet it is hard when we come up against those things for which we don’t have an answer or maybe just a sort of generic, catch all, vague, sort of response rather than a real answer.  It reminds me of the Peanuts Cartoon [for those of you who remember them] where I think Linus was carrying a placard saying “Jesus is the answer!” and Snoopy came along behind with one saying “What is the question?”
People in Jesus’ day often looked at events and tried to read things into them, given the nature of their culture and society they often used to invoke God and that used to leave some feeling rather smug. Even today people with faith can seem rather smug. Jesus challenged that thinking when questioned about specific tragic events of his day and made people reflect upon their own lives and situations, in the same chapter His parables acknowledge how hard finding answers can be, but having found them he explained how they can change the whole of your life, not in a smug way, but in a deeply sustaining way. Personally l think Linus was right, the challenge is finding what Snoopy was looking for. [Hint -Good Friday and Easter may help!]

From the Rector’s Desk.
Do look out for all our services over the Holy Week and Easter period - 14th-21st - we’d love to see you.

It is Annual Parochial Church Meeting time
-  Abinger on 29th at 7pm in St James’
-  Coldharbour on 28th at 6pm in JV Hall
We have to renew the Church Electoral roll, so if you are part of the Church community do make sure you have filled in a form , further details from the Parish Office.

March 2019
The days are gradually getting longer, within weeks the clocks will change and the prospect of a spring that is followed by summer is no longer a forlorn hope carried wistfully in secret during the winter months.

Of course we may have lots of other forlorn hopes that we carry. The results we wanted but did not get, the house we wanted but were beaten to by someone else; the promotion, the pay rise, the new job, all hoped for but never achieved. These along with a thousand others, some of which are too painful to acknowledge, make up the challenges we face as we go through life. Sometimes l wonder how some people manage to carry on. The sad truth is that there is no fairness about them. Some people have more than their fair share of disappointment and difficulty, others either by luck or character seem to weather such storms as they face, and some never seem to face many at all. Yet, sadly, it may take only one such challenge to throw someone completely off balance and find it hard, maybe even impossible, to get back up again

For most of us we make our way as best we can, and thankfully we manage to get the most out of our life. I have been struck in recent days about the coverage in the news about teenage suicide and self- harming. It is so tragic that those who have so much potential stretching out before them should find life intolerable and all hope extinguished.

The Bible presents us with countless stories of dashed hopes, moral failures; lives, blighted by people or circumstances. It is a realistic book reflecting the human condition portrayed in stories collected over the centuries. But it also gives us glimpses of hope as we see the redeeming nature of God at work in those who are prepared to risk putting their trust in him. These glimpses do much in countering the forlorn hopes l may nurse; they remind me of a bigger picture, one that has an eternal perspective. The one that speaks to me most is Jesus parable of two men praying. One had everything going for them but had lost sight of reality and attributed his good fortune to himself; the other recognised his weaknesses and failures and asked for God’s help.

Some of the troubles and dashed hopes we face may be trivial, others may be devastating but both can be brought to God and we can ask his help to face them.

From the Rector’s Desk
We are really looking forward to Bishop Jo, the Bishop of Dorking, joining us on the 3rd of March. She is, to my mind, an inspirational preacher do please take this opportunity to hear her.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent on March 6th we have our benefice service at St James’ at 8.00pm It is a said Communion service with the imposition of ashes for those who would like it.
During Lent there will be a service for the benefice of Compline at 8pm on each Wednesday from the 13th onwards at Holmbury. It is a real chance to stop and think and reflect amidst the business of our weekly rush.

If you would like a bit of Bible study, Hilary is leading a series on the 7 signs of John’s Gospel. The next one is on the 19th of March in the Barn at the Plough in Coldharbour at 8pm

Right at the end of the month is Mothering Sunday which will be celebrated at Christ Church and as it is a 5th Sunday all the benefice will be celebrating together.