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. 

October 2019
October is the month we celebrate Harvest. I suppose this is a leftover from a pre-mechanical age or it could be just a typical Church of England thing of being late to the party. Whatever the date we celebrate it, its significance as a festival should never be underestimated, yet for many it gets lost amongst the busyness of modern day life. It comes as children are finding their stride back at school, students are recovering from freshers week,
some young people have begun working and earning for the first time,
while for many it is back in the old routine after the summer months.
Although, I have to say, that is not so for me this year. 

In 2004/5 l was fortunate enough to clock up enough years to enable me to have an
“extended study leave”, formerly known as a sabbatical. In theory l was
due another one in 2011, but for various reasons I wasn’t able to take it
then, and so finally l have got round to booking it in. So after Harvest l am
away till Remembrance.

As l have pondered on the matter over the last few days I realise  how
fortunate I am. Not simply to have the opportunity for a study break, which
other people don’t get, but the chance to stand back from things, to take
stock and simply lie fallow. Just like the soil after Harvest. I am very lucky,
not many have such a chance.

That is why we need to make Harvest a Festival. It connects us with
Creation’s rhythm. It is not simply about the food cycle, or giving tins to
those less fortunate, important those things may be. It is about recognising
our dependence. Dependence on those who are part of the process of
taking the raw material and getting it to our tables. Dependence on creation
itself to provide the raw material in the first place. And finally as Jesus
pointed out dependence on the God of creation, “Consider the birds of the
air they neither sow nor reap or store in barns, yet your heavenly Father
feeds them; are you not much more valuable than they?”

From the Rector’s Desk
Our Alpha Course begins on the 7th of October, This is your chance to ask
questions about the Christian faith in a friendly environment; no question is
too simple, no question is too weird, All done around a meal together. More
details available from the Parish office.

Don’t forget the shoe box appeal!

We had two fun events during September.

In St James’ despite the warning of never work with children and animals
we held an All Age Pet Service. It was more of a Dog Service but was great
fun with owners answering quiz questions to win homemade dog biscuits
for their pets.

In Christ Church we had Harbour Hymns, Coldharbour’s answer to Songs
of Praise. It was lovely to hear people’s choice of hymn and what it meant
to them. The choir led us beautifully as well as singing two anthems for us.

Do, please, join us for our joint Harvest Service this year in Abinger on 6th
of October at 10.30 am, followed as usual by our Auction of home produce
and gifts;  all dried and tinned goods will go to the Dorking Foodbank.

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.