29th May 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 29th May 2011


Trusting God’s Voice

 Sometimes we may realise that God is moving us to some greater hiddenness or to an unknown place.  The initial reaction to this invitation can be fear, or running away from the self, as one is more familiar with the loud voices that calls us to action and worry about worldly cares that dominate our lives.

In the midst of this life of combat, of noise of the mind involved in the things of the world, every now and then we may discover that God’s voice is saying, ‘Be still and trust that your life will be fruitful even in the hiddenness, even in that unknown place’.  Trusting this inner voice is not easy, because it is stifled with self doubt, insecurity and the need for affirmation and God’s voice becomes harder to hear.

It helps to find a safe space, go on a retreat or holiday, or spend sometime with trustful friends, to let that inner voice become clearer and louder over and above all the cares of the world.  Taking time out, being still to attend to this inner voice will affirm the truth from God.  The truth of inner peace and joy in the Lord, the peace of God, that is beyond understanding, reasoning and logic.

If for some reason or another we are unable to find that safe space, our visit to church on Sundays can be the space to leave wandering thoughts behind and focus on the Lord.  In church we may find ourselves in a privilege position in listening, being attentive and helping others stay faithful to that inner voice of God. The call in beckoning them to that greater hiddeness or to an unknown and unfamiliar place is the peace of God which directs and governs us.

…’And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you are called in the one body.  And be thankful’. Col 3:15.



22nd May 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 22nd May 2011


So, the Vicar is leaving…….


I have only been a member of this parish for about 7 years or so, for me, the departure of a vicar is a new experience. The old hands among you have seen it all before and know what to expect but for, newer members and for members of our “wider” fellowship, it may pose some uncertainty.

I have been asked – why is Jane leaving? (have we upset her? – well, no – at least I hope not!) Moving on after a few years is very much the usual pattern for many clergy: indeed in some denominations it is obligatory – they swap you round every few years. Who is going to take over? We don’t know but we will have a say in who it is. No-one will simply be dropped onto us. When will the new person come? Not for a while. Will the new person be just like Jane ?– Ah! Quite possibly not – it could be someone from a very different background, it may be a man, with a family: we don’t know. And, my favourite:

if we are having a farewell lunch on the 19th can we all get to Wickford in time for her installation at 4.00 pm?. Err no – we don’t need to – her installation isn’t till July (good thing it is in Wickford and not Wakefield!)

There is a process for dealing with this and the process is beginning. Representatives from the congregation will have the opportunity of talking to the powers-that-be (the Archdeacon, as Bishop David is on sabbatical at the moment) to discuss the kind of ministry we want to see in this church, Parish and community.

Then we will draw up a “job-description” and advertise, interview, appoint and wait for the new vicar’s arrival.

All this will take a bit of time – at least 6 months to a year.

Meanwhile we have Jane for another month and then we at St Bart’s are very fortunate in having three wardens, many experienced members who have been through it all, a parish administrator and, above all, Frances, backed up by the other clergy in the parish, to lead us in our worship and our spiritual lives.


15th May 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 15th May 2011


Finally, a new Memorial Garden takes shape!

Two years of deliberating. Endless meetings and discussions, the faculty having been granted. Work this week, finally starts on the on the new memorial garden for the burial of Ashes at St. Marys.

It has been quite a journey but I hope what we get will be worth the wait. We hope the Garden will be dedicated when the Bishop of Chelmsford comes to our Patronal Festival at the end of July.

 But for those who have not been involved in the discussions I thought it would useful for you to have a look at the plans even if they are in miniature and the central memorial will be a granite obelisk! The design has been refined but it should be something like this situated on the Left Hand side of the path as you enter the Graveyard.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Quintin



8th May 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 8th May 2011


Easter doubts…..

After the 40 flowerless days of austerity in Lent, we’ve now got 50 days to celebrate Easter – with flowers and chocolate!

In our Gospel readings in Church we will hear again the story of those strange 50 days, when Jesus, who had been cruelly put to death on Good Friday, appeared several times to his friends. It must have been very odd, yet so welcome. I wonder if the friends thought that Jesus was back for good? That now everything would be just the same as it used to be. Phew, what a relief.

 But no, Jesus had died but was risen and different and His followers had to accept it. And they did, evetually. All that is, except good old Thomas, immortalised as ‘Doubting’

Thomas because he refused to believe what the others told him until he saw it with his own eyes. Thomas stands for each of us when we have doubts – and that’s surely all of us sometime or another, isn’t it? Don’t think that a clerical collar makes any difference because it certainly doesn’t!

It seems to me that certainty is pretty unreliable – attractive, yes, but unreliable - and we have to learn to live in what Rowan Williams, our Archbishop, calls ‘A life of doubt,enriched by faith’.


The Bible says that Jesus came especially to see Thomas and put his mind at rest and Jesus will reassure us too, in our

doubting moments; maybe we hear a lovely tune which is full of happy memories, or somebody smiles at us, or we catch a whiff of something, a fleeting shadow, that tells us that, deep down, there’s a heart of love constantly beating for all God’s creation.

Better not be too busy being certain - or we might not notice!




1st May 2011 Newsletter

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St Mary Magdalene  †       St Bartholomew †       St Alban  †


Sunday 1st May 2011



By the time you read this, it will all be over.

As I write it, we are still waiting for it to happen.

Millions around the world will be watching it –
though I’m not quite sure how the viewing figures will compare with the latest round of Barcelona v Real Madrid.


Most will, I’m sure, enjoy the day: some as confirmed supporters of the monarchy,
 others for the spectacle,and others just as a day off to be spent in company with an excuse for a party.

I’ve spent some time this morning talking to another bride-to-be,
for whom the stresses of planning a wedding are, at the moment, looming larger than the joys.
 The event itself, whether in Newham or Westminster, seems to become all-consuming,
and it’s all too easy to lose sight of the purpose.


So what is the purpose? To create a feel-good factor in a time of public-spending cuts,
 job losses, and falling living standards?
To sell more papers?
 To give a boost to the standing of the royal family?
To have a really big party?


A cynic might say ‘yes’ to all of those. But at the heart of this event is the expectation that the future will be different because of the commitment made between two people: the promises that will be made are the promises made at every church wedding, of faithfulness, mutual support and cherishing, and the sharing of lives.

What matters about That Wedding is that it will shape the future for the couple themselves.


The church has just had its own big celebration in Easter,

the greatest festival of the Christian year.

Nice party – what about the purpose? Do we live as though it made a difference to each one of us?