September 2023 parish letter
My dear friends,
I am very pleased to share with you news of an exciting new experiment which we are going to begin next month at St Laurence’s Church, Catsfield, and St George’s Church, Crowhurst.
On the first Sunday in each month, beginning on 1st October, our services at 9.15 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. will be tweaked a little and will become Children’s Eucharists. With the support and encouragement of Bishop Will Hazlewood of Lewes, our services on the first Sunday in the month will take the form of a very simple and pared-down Eucharist, geared for children. These special services will last 30 minutes, and will be followed by squash, coffee and biscuits. They will be aimed at families with small children, with special music and teaching. The Headteachers of Catsfield and Crowhurst Church of England Primary Schools have been very helpful and supportive of this new venture and we are working on some school involvement.
I need to point out, though, that although these services will be geared for children, we still want the grown-ups to come along! Members of our regular congregations will help with the services and everyone can exercise a ministry of welcome and encouragement to families and children. These special services are being organised by a small committee drawn from members of both our churches, including our two parish safeguarding officers.
Our first services will look at important themes:
Sunday 1st October – Harvest
Sunday 5th November – Saints
Sunday 3rd December – Advent and the Advent Wreath
Sunday 7th January 2024 – The Wise Men, gold, frankincense and myrrh
Sunday 4th February – Candlemass, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple
We hope that these services will introduce our young people and their families to the Eucharist, which was given to us by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and which for two thousand years has been the chief act of worship of the Christian Church. It also occurs to me that any adults wondering about Christianity for the first time might like to attend these services.
Please would you pray hard and regularly over the next few months for God’s guidance and blessing upon these services and all who take part in them. The most important job we can ever do as Christians is to introduce other people to Jesus Christ.
Are there any families with young children you know of, whom you might like to invite to join us on the first Sunday of the month for these special and exciting services?
With my love, prayers and blessing,
TRINITY 8 – 30th JULY 2023.
Jesus never underestimated the power of words: tell a simple story with a deeper layer of meaning, and it will be more easily remembered and pondered than a complicated theological point.
We see some such very powerful tales in today’s Gospel. Jesus is telling his followers about the kingdom of Heaven, where everything will be as God wants it. Our way into Heaven is through Christian faith.
We can just imagine the ploughman who is sent to plough some small farmer’s field. The plough hits a pot of coins, buried by someone in a hurry, long ago, before the Assyrians or Babylonians or whoever came along. The man rushes off to buy the field with his savings. It is a bit like you or me discovering a rare book or stamp somewhere, and hurrying off to scrape together every penny we possess to pay for it, because it is far more valuable than its price.
Again, Jesus imagines of a collector of pearls – the most precious gem known in the first century. He hears of one of wonderful size and purity, and sells his entire collection in order to buy it. However wonderful all his other pearls, they fall into insignificance beside this one. He cannot ignore it. He must possess it.
Jesus tells us that being a Christian and knowing God is a bit like this. It is more wonderful and valuable than we can possibly imagine. But, the point is, we must make some effort and some sacrifices. One man sold everything to buy a field. Another sold all his pearls to buy just one. We, too, must give our all to Jesus Christ.
I have found myself in recent weeks thinking more and more about Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, walking away from their boats, fishing nets, from everything that was dear or familiar to them, and just following Jesus, who called ‘Follow me’ to them. Well, if we all simply walked away from our earthly responsibilities, we should be in a fine old mess. But, in a sense, whilst still earning our daily bread and caring for our families, we are called to do just that. To follow Jesus Christ. Not to be held back by the things of this world. To be in the world, but not entirely of it.
The trouble for many people is that they only see the outward form of religion, and not its inward, transformative power. Christ reflected on this inner power of faith with his parable of the mustard seed. It is the tiniest of seeds, but it shoots up into a tall bush, and even the birds can nest in it. The tiny seed represents our faith. Not much to begin with. But it grows enormously inside us, and, during the course of our lifetime, faith transforms and enriches our lives more than we can ever imagine.
For we know that whatever may happen to us during our time on earth, God loves us, cares for us, and delights in our prayers and company. And when this earthly life is completed, we shall be with Him forever. This is the truth we must (1) enshrine in our hearts, and then (2) live out in our lives, day by day.