Christ Church

Tony Berry's Weekly Thoughts

Sunday 11 April 

Dear Parishioners

I am sure I speak for all when I say that we send our thoughts and condolences to Her Majesty following the sad passing of Prince Phillip.

His contribution to our national life has been well documented both on TV and radio as well as in our national papers. His long life has seen so many transforming moments and it is such a different world now to the one he was born into nearly 100 years ago. Yet he never was content to stay in that world and tried to use his position to help us all, if not embrace that new world, certainly to see its possibilities.

We shall of course be giving thanks for the Prince, and remembering the Royal Family in our prayers in our services.

This evening at 6pm there is Evensong at Abinger.

Do join us if you can.

With things changing on Monday, do stay safe.

God bless you all.

Tony

Sunday 4 April - Easter Sunday

Dear Parishioners

A very happy Easter to you all! No doubt you have been making the most of being able to meet up with friends and to visit one another in gardens. 

Hopefully the weather will help us make the most of it this weekend and over the Easter school holidays.

We shall of course be celebrating the season at Christ Church and St James’. Such a great festival, God’s power at work in raising Jesus from the dead, giving us hope that there is a future with God if we put our trust in Him.

With very best wishes for your Easter.

God bless

Tony

Sunday 28 March - Palm Sunday

Dear Parishioners,

Well as Easter approaches the hope for some changes grows stronger. Very soon we can join people in their garden, although that might mean some frantic gardening needs to be done. In the not too distant future we will be able to go away to self contained units whatever that might be. And then slowly but hopefully surely we can begin to pick up life in the new normal.

At church I am pleased to say that we will be able to sing outside on Easter Day so hopefully the weather will be kind for the James’ Easter service; and we can have a small group to sing inside which we hope may be able to happen at Christ Church.

Today though is Palm Sunday. We have a 10 am Holy Communion at Christ Church and an All Age service at St James’ at 11.15.

I do hope you will be able to join us at one or other of those services.

Don’t forget the hour change! 

God bless you all.

Tony

Sunday 21 March

Dear Parishioners,

Well, slowly but surely, we move a little closer to being able to resume familiar routines and habits with meeting up with friends and family.

However I suspect like me, the frustration of waiting can sometimes get the better of you. Hopefully they are passing moments and you can put them aside and keep positive.

As we move towards Easter let’s hope the weather will be as good as it was last year and bring a bit of light and sunshine into our lives to help us stay positive. For me the Easter story itself brings me hope, joy and wonder, and a recognition that God can bring something wonderful out of the most dire of circumstances.

I hope and pray that things are not too difficult for you at the moment, and if you do need support you know where to ask.

Our services tomorrow are: a 9.15 live service of Holy Communion at Christ Church, a 10.30 All Age at St James’, which is live and streamed on YouTube [put St James church Abinger in the search engine]. By the way if we get 100 subscribers we will be able to have our own YouTube address!  And finally our Zoomed Evensong at 6.30pm.

Do join us if you can.

God bless you all.

Tony

Sunday 14 March - Mothering Sunday

Dear Parishioners,

Well the children are back at school and hopefully settling in to a new routine with all the constraints that the pandemic has brought. So for a while another new normal will be established.

As we move towards the relaxing of certain regulations and the vaccination programme continues to make such good progress, I hope a sense of controlled optimism can begin to arise.

From our churches point of view we feel able to run our familiar pattern of worship services within the security of social distancing and careful attention to safety measures. We are delighted to be doing this on Mothering Sunday.

You may still feel happier staying at home and we hope that our online presence keeps you in touch. This week we will still be using YouTube for the services at St James’ although we are investigating going back to Zoom as some people prefer that sort of online platform [ I think that is the right jargon]. We hope to be able to stream services in Coldharbour soon.

So services this Sunday, slightly different from Parish News:
-   St James’ 
     8.00am Holy Communion
     11.15am All Age
     6.00pm Evensong
-  Christ Church
     10.00am Family Iona Communion

We look forward to seeing you sometime.

God bless you all

Tony

Sunday 7 March
Dear Parishioners

Well I expect that those of you who have been “home schooling” are really looking forward to Monday. Hopefully the children are too. It must have been a very stressful time for parent/teacher and child. pupil alike.

No doubt it was different for each household depending on how many children in the family and how many adults were available to teach them. Did the grown ups end up being so stressed that they began to behave like children themselves? Were there times that parents had to play “Good teacher” and  their partner “Angry” or “Strict teacher”. Through it all I do hope you had fun times as well, Helping children to prepare for the future is so important. So well done those of you who have had had to go through it.

For the rest of us I guess this weekend is a marker on the road to beating the pandemic. Still some way to go before we can feel that life has found a rhythm again, but at least we are on the way. Seeing children on their way to and from school puts a post or two in the framework of our daily lives, as does the heavier traffic at school times

Our worship this weekend is a live service at St James at 10.30, do join us if you can, but if you would rather watch it online please attempt to do so by opening up YouTube and putting St James Church Abinger in the YouTube search engine box . You should recognise it by photo of the Lych gate/ Click on that and we should be live streaming. Do give us feedback as we try this new way of involving people.

Webmaster's note: this is a change from the announcement in the March PN and on this website that services at St James would also be on Zoom.

I send you my best wishes

God bless you all

Tony    

Sunday 28 February 
Dear Parishioners,

Well things are a bit clearer now; tantalisingly close, but somehow frustratingly far off. Well we must just be patient and hope it all goes to plan.

Trying to please everybody is never that easy, and even trying to please most of us isn't that easy either. The trouble is that it isn't about pleasing us, it is about beating the virus and we need to keep that in mind as we sit wishing we could having others around us now rather than a few weeks time.

However I think it is appropriate to say a "Well done folks!" to our communities. Some have had a tough time, but have found support in family, friends and neighbours. Some have lost loved ones, and we all want to support them as best we can, and with our prayers if that is appropriate for you. Let's not take our foot off the gas and onto the brake with those things, as lockdown becomes a matter of the past and life in all its business takes over again.

We have two Sunday services  our usual morning prayer at 10.30am and our Sideways Church discussion based service led by Mad and Hilary.  Both are on Zoom, with the addresses contained in Mary's email version of this message.

I hope you can join us

God bless you all

Tony

Sunday 21 February

Dear Parishioners

Wednesday saw  the beginning of Lent although much of the past year has felt like days and days of going without. Going without seeing friends and family. Going without days out or possibly holidays. Going without familiar routines and having new ones enforced upon us.

For some those days have had the added distress of illness and/or loss. It is hard to see those things as aids to self improvement or transformation, but of course they do have an affect on us, they do change us in ways that are sometimes hard to detect and sometimes are very obvious. My hope is that we are able to be aware of any change that is damaging either to ourselves or those around us. St Paul was optimistic about tribulations as he put it. For him they were able to produce positive change and build character. As we cautiously approach possible lifting of restrictions let’s hope that all this tribulation we have faced may result in a stronger and more positive character than we were when we entered this past year.

This Sunday we have two services. One is a live All Age in St James’ at 10.30am and you can join us on Zoom but on a different address to the normal one Mary Hustings has sent it out in her emailed version of this message. The second is our Zoom Evensong at 6p30pm, using the normal Zoom address (which is also in Mary's email).

I do hope you might join us for one of them.

God bless you all.

Tony

Sunday 14 February
Dear Parishioners,

Well much to my surprise I was invited to have my first vaccination this week and apart from a sore arm all is well. Although having to sit for 15 mins in case I had a violent reaction to it was a bit unnerving, but as no one else seemed to have one each passing minute gave me a sense of reassurance. It was very strange, I hadn’t seen so many people in such a short space of time for ages!

Drawing strength from those around us is probably the thing most of us have missed in recent months. Being isolated has, I am sure, been a real problem for many and may still be, so if that is the case for you and a chat on the phone might help, do get in touch via the Parish Office, don’t sit in splendid isolation feeling miserable. 

With St Valentine’s day coming up, it might be a good time to remind loved ones of how important they are to us. Lockdown has been a testing time for many and was never overtly mentioned in wedding vows, but I guess it is there in the small print of “for better for worse” and thankfully their support during this period of “for worse” has helped many to get this far. 

This Sunday we have a Zoom service at 10.30am, so do please join us if you can, it is the usual address.

Do please look after yourselves, and indeed let’s continue to look after eachother.

God bless you all,

Tony

Sunday 7 February
Dear Parishioners,

Well the signs are encouraging! Albeit much like the signs that tell you there are more miles behind you from your starting point, than there are to your destination. I hope many of you are feeling a bit more positive. 

I was reflecting on something the writer to Hebrew Christians encouraged his readers with. He begins this verse by telling them  to ”lay aside every encumbrance”. This is easier said than done of course, and it may be that you have things which really do encumber you and are not that easy to lay aside. So far be it for me to put anyone under pressure; but he then wrote this “ let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The reason he wrote this was because he had his eyes on the final destination. And we need to do the same. I do hope that you will be able to endure this difficult time.

If you are having to deal with difficulties which feel like encumbrances, I do hope you feel supported; and if not, do let us know if we can do anything to help.

God bless you all.

Tony

Thursday 21 January
Dear Parishioners,

As lockdown continues, I trust you are managing in these difficult circumstances, if you are finding things hard and you think we may be able to help - do please get in touch.

At the risk of boring you all, may I give you what is the final update on my recent operation? But first, I must say thank you for the many kind and thoughtful messages and encouragement, I am very grateful to you all.

I had a telephone appointment the other day and they have told me there is no need for further treatment, for which we are extremely grateful to God. I am on a programme of regular checks for the next 3 years for which I am also grateful to the NHS. The big surprise to us both was that despite all the positive results prior to the operation, the results of tests on the removed tumour itself, came back as malignant after all! Having got over the shock, we are so grateful that we went through the op, and Christmas and the New Year in blissful ignorance! Thankfully we can now get on with our lives and I will  be fully back at work  at the end of the month.

As you know we have changed our patterns of worship to accommodate the new circumstances and to that end we will be having a Zoom service this Sunday at 10.30. (Contact Mary Hustings for the address by clicking here.)

Once again, do get in touch if we can help in any way.

I wish you all well.

God bless you all

Tony

Second Sunday in Epiphany - 18 January
Dear Parishioners,

Well lockdown continues, but I hope you are able to keep your spirits up. The weather does not help I know, but hopefully despite that, maybe you have been able to find some comfort in the limited contact you may have with friends and family.

The restrictions we find ourselves bound which means that church life has also had to go back to a different way of operating. Christ Church now is back to doing online worship and many of you will have had Mary’s email about our Evensong online service this Sunday at 6.00pm giving the Zoom link (click here for her email address if you need the link). 

We will be posting details about the rest of our services when we have sorted exactly what will happen when,  We regret having to take this decision but we hope that you will join us and worship with us when you can.

Once again we need to say if you need help in any way do please get in touch.

God bless you all and keep you safe.

Tony