My dear friends,

June 2022 is a very special and unique month in the annals of our country’s long history, when we shall enjoy the great pleasure of celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Amongst The Queen’s titles is that of ‘Defender of the Faith’, which Her Majesty takes very seriously. The Queen’s deep, personal Christian faith comes across in many ways, not least in Her Majesty’s annual Christmas broadcasts. In 2000 The Queen said:

The simple facts of Jesus’ life give us little clue as to the influence he was to have on the world. As a boy he learnt his father’s trade as a carpenter. He then became a preacher, recruiting twelve supporters to help him. But his ministry only lasted a few years and he himself never wrote anything down. In his early thirties he was arrested, tortured and crucified with two criminals. His death might have been the end of the story, but then came the resurrection and with it the foundation of the Christian faith.

 Even in our very material age the impact of Christ’s life is all around us. If you want to see an expression of Christian faith you only have to look at our awe-inspiring cathedrals or abbeys, listen to their music, or look at their stained glass windows, their books and their pictures.

 But the true measure of Christ’s influence is not only in the lives of the saints but also in the good works quietly done by millions of men and women day in and day out throughout the centuries.

 Many will have been inspired by Jesus’ simple but powerful teaching: love God and love thy neighbour as thyself – in other words, treat others as you would like them to treat you. His great emphasis was to give spirituality a practical purpose.

We plan to hold two special services of Choral Evensong to offer thanks to Almighty God for our Queen’s reign of seventy years: at St Laurence’s Church, Catsfield, on Thursday 2nd June at 4.00pm, and at St George’s Church, Crowhurst, on Saturday 4th June, also at 4.00pm. Both services will be followed by refreshments. If you have any orders, decorations or medals which you have received during The Queen’s reign, do please feel free to wear them at these services.

Throughout Lent 2022 we collected money in our parishes of Catsfield and Crowhurst for the work of St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem and its other clinics and hospitals at Anabta, Gaza City, Hebron and Muristan, and its mobile outreach service in the West Bank.

St John Eye Hospital is a Christian foundation which offers treatment to all, irrespective of faith, ethnicity or ability to pay. It seems to me as a Christian that the mission of the hospital is a practical expression of our faith in Jesus Christ, who came to earth to bring the love of God to all people.

It is not just the patients whose lives are changed by the work of St John Eye Hospital: imagine children whose mother was going blind, but who following treatment can now see them again. The impact is like throwing stones into a pond: the hospital’s work causes ‘ripples’ of happiness to spread out into families and communities, in a sometimes troubled part of the world.

I am deeply humbled and moved to be able to report to you that during Lent 2022 we raised an amazing £1,000 for St John Eye Hospital. This means that between us we have collected enough money to pay for an eye operation: because of your generosity someone unknown to us in the Holy Land will have an eye operation later this year and will be enabled to see properly once again. What a wonderful, practical way of celebrating Jesus Christ’s resurrection at Easter.

I immediately passed on this heartening and encouraging news to the Order of St John and within the hour had received the following reply from the Chancellor, Michael Messinger: ‘Thank you for the great news and thank you to you and your parishioners for such generosity. It will make a very positive difference and I am immensely grateful.’

 I need not add how deeply touched and grateful I am, too.

With my love, prayers and blessing,

Father Robert.