Keith Harper

What are the things that cause your heart to shout for joy?  Success at work?  A wedding?  A poem?  Autumnal colours?  A piece of art?  A newborn baby?  Choral evensong? 

I don’t know whether Psalm 98, in particular, was the inspiration but the words in verse 4 ‘Shout for joy to the Lord…’ and elsewhere brought to my mind Hillsong’s ‘Shout to the Lord’.  Darlene Zschech is said to have written it when she was struggling with money worries and the stresses of raising a young family.  She says that the line: ‘Nothing compares to the promise I have in you’ was something she could cling to when her circumstances seemed bleak.  Does that ring true for you today?

Our cares and problems daily crowd out the joy we should be feeling but surely if we could completely and consistently take in what God did for Israel and Jesus did for us, our hearts would not only ‘shout for joy to the Lord’ but also we would be led into a Life of Worship. 

Not only, of course, should we reflect on who God was and is today but also on the promise that he is yet to come; that is the basis of all the exuberant praise of Psalm 98.  It is the anticipation of the appearance of God to bring peace, justice and healing over the earth; to wipe away every tear and to produce in us a joy for which the joyful things of this earth are but an inkling.

 

Frances Shaw

 We have had quite a lot of deaths in our community recently; each person loved, cherished and remembered. Yet these numbers are small when we think of the many who have died in war. I can imagine relatives here, mostly wives and mothers, scouring the newspaper lists for news of their husbands and sons; or living in fear of the arrival of a certain telegram.

We remember those who have died. Their lives, both individually and corporately, have shaped who we are. So remembering is not just looking back, but bringing into the present all that has brought us to this point. The two central events of both Jewish and Christian practice centre on remembering: the Jewish remembering deliverance from Egypt in the Passover, and the Christian remembering Jesus’ own remembering of this, overlaid with his own death and resurrection as a new expression of it.

In the Jewish Passover, the youngest child asks, ‘Why is this night special?’ not ‘Why was this night special?’ In a similar way, when we share the bread and wine we recall Jesus’ words, ‘This is my body ... this is my blood’. Our remembering brings the past into the present and shapes the reality we inhabit.

Hear these words of Jesus (John 10.28): no one will snatch them out of my hand. No one.

 

Jeannie Postill

                                    Been on a diet recently?
  According to those who know these things 70% of us are on/off dieters.
               ‘Bread is the staff of life’ ...heard that one?
        Or how about ‘Adam’s ale’. Do you know what that is?
Food is a pleasure and delight (especially in the hands of a good cook) but also food and drink are necessities for our overall health and well-being.
Without food and water we die – it is as basic as that.
What are the parallels between your basic appetite for  food and drink  and your hunger and thirst for the new, full life Jesus offers?
What do you need to do to increase your daily intake of sustenance?  On that depends your well-being as you face challenges ahead.

 

David Mace

It seems a long while ago since we began our journey together through John’s gospel; admittedly we have done it in three sections, not covered everything and covered other books and issues in between. For myself, it has been a most rewarding series of studies and sermons.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed.

This Sunday we come to the last chapter which I have always had titled in my mind as ‘Breakfast in Galilee’. (Is this the only description of breakfast in the Bible?).  The two halves of the chapter are equally but differently evocative –first, sunrise on the lake, stillness and mistiness, tired frustrated fisherman, the lone figure hailing them and giving advice, the miraculous catch, the recognition of who he was and Jesus greeting them; and then secondly, the catch landed, breakfast eaten, most of them relaxing, but one person tense and probably still ashamed, how can he be forgiven, he who was to be the rock for Jesus to build on, the gentle questions and the charge given.

Can we not see ourselves in both these settings – struggling with the cares and details of life and failing to see the figure of he who promised to be with us always, failing to hear his voice and his guidance, and, - avoiding his presence and his gaze when we are feeling embarrassed or guilty at our failures, he wants to forgives us, to be with us, working with us to bring the good news of forgiveness to our world of family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances and those we seemingly meet randomly.

Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Follow me’ .

 

Margot Spencer

If it’s true that seeing is believing, I wonder what some of the things might be that you believe because you have seen them with your own eyes.  Maybe you were not sure, but once you have actually seen them, you are convinced.  The Pyramids, perhaps … the Taj Mahal … Angkor Wat …

At a more mundane level, perhaps a child tells you that they have tidied their room and you think “A likely story!”   But when you check, they have!  Seeing really is believing.

Jesus has already appeared to Mary, but - as a woman in those times - she is not considered a reliable witness.  Now the disciples have an appearance of their own; so it is true after all.  For them, too, seeing is believing.  But Thomas is not there and he is sceptical when he hears their story.  He wants a slice of the action; he needs to see Jesus for himself.

Graciously, Jesus appears again and Thomas’ need for tangible proof is dispelled.  Amongst other things, I think that Thomas’ experience is meant to be an encouragement to us.  We are not eye-witnesses (born too late!) but we can depend on the testimony and witness of those who were there.

Thomas is the first person in John’s gospel to look Jesus in the eye and say: “My Lord and my God!” 

John’s primary aim is to point each one of us towards Jesus, as the Son of God.  Has he succeeded, or has he wasted his time?

 

Alan Harvey

Today the theme is Jesus the prayer partner – the heading of John 17 : 20 – 26 is ‘Jesus prays for all believers’

Where are you with prayer – and discovering how prayer can make a difference? Writing things down to share with others can sometimes help.  In the National gallery book ‘The art of worship’, in a section on ‘church’, the Rev Nicholas Holtam describes the prayer board in St Martins in the Fields. He writes: 

“In praying for the particular we pray for the universal. The intercessions board may provide us with requests for prayers for people to find jobs, for people who are sick, for someone longing to find love, or in thanksgiving for friends who have died”.

We have our own prayer boards at the back of both Busbridge & Hambledon churches, with blank cards available to add your own prayer requests. On anything! Do feel free to use them to write your own. Every Wednesday at 9.00 in Busbridge and on Thursday at 9.00 in Hambledon, a number get together over half an hour to read God’s word and bring before Him not only the needs of the world, but also those requests mentioned on the prayer cards.  There is something quite special about praying alongside fellow believers and hearing God speak his peace into the situations we bring before Him. All are most welcome to come along and join in.

 

David Jenkins

For the first time this year more than ten gardens and allotments in Busbridge were opened to the public on the same weekend. It was in aid of The Cellar Café and Cancer Research and it was a major success. We had 474 visitors contributing more than £3,250.

The weather was kind to us and there seemed to be an especially friendly atmosphere as people walked from one garden to another. Everyone seemed to enjoy seeing the beautiful summer flowers and the creative garden designs.

The seasons have now moved on from summer fruit and flowers to apples, pears, carrots beetroot and parsnips. We all enjoy this diversity and it seems strange to find that so many young children do not know where vegetables and flowers come from. So that in turn begs the question, whose job is it to teach them; is it the schools or the parents or someone else? It seems that because no one takes responsibility the whole matter gets kicked into the long grass.

Now if the children do not know how flowers, fruit and vegetables grow how can they possibly know about the loving creator God who is the source of all this beauty and abundance?

I believe that God wants us all to enjoy this harvest time and He takes pleasure in our enjoyment and thanksgiving for all His gifts.

It may not be our job to teach children how fruit, flowers and vegetables grow but it is our responsibility to make sure that we pass on to the next generation the knowledge of where all the blessing of Harvest comes from. It is not an easy task in this technologically savvy world but that’s the job we have been given and we have to make sure that we do not kick it into the long grass.

David Preece

Where do I belong?

Over the last ten years I have lived in five different towns and cities around the country and so when people ask me where I’m from I struggle to give a short answer. It has led to a strange sense of where ‘home’ is for me. I’ve recently met people who have lived in this area for over 50 years and sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have lived in the same place for that amount of time.

As a country, where we belong and how we fit into the international community is being reimagined as our politicians negotiate our exit from the European Union. More urgently there are 65.6 million people globally who have been forcibly displaced and have lost their homes.

So where do I belong? Where do we belong? Where do those who have lost their homes belong?

Paul writes in Ephesians that ‘you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people’ and in Philippians that ‘our citizenship is in heaven.’

So what might that mean for me with my fluid sense of home? What might that mean for you if you have lived in the same place for many years? What about us as a country? What about refugees and asylum seekers?

What difference might it make in our lives if we thought of ourselves and others as citizens of heaven?

 

Catherine McBride

The Invictus Games start soon in Toronto; a para-sport competition for injured and sick armed service personnel started by Prince Harry. The name comes from the poem by William Ernest Henley, which ends, “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

I wouldn’t disagree with the poem’s sentiments of courage and fortitude ‘against the odds’; but, as someone who follows Jesus, I can’t help thinking, “Really? Am I really the captain of my soul?”

Being on the verge of leaving gives one a certain boldness! So, perhaps I could ask you a provocative question and ask you to give it some serious and honest thought. Who – really – is the captain of your soul? Who or what – really – directs and orders your life: the actions you take; the decisions you make?

Spouse, partner, children, grandchildren, boss, bank manager, personal trainer, friends, Rector (!), Jesus: if you were to place those people in order of who, honestly, most influences your day to day life, what would the pecking order look like? Where would Jesus really come?

Christ’s love compelled Paul to no longer live for himself, but for Him. Jesus’ love literally gripped him and he was utterly powerless to resist it. He would do anything, go anywhere, speak to anyone if Jesus asked him. Can I say the same for myself? Or am I just playing at being a Jesus-follower?

There’s a line of a worship song you might be familiar with: “From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.” It always makes me catch my breath when I sing it. What a ridiculously, terrifyingly, gloriously life-changing thing to say, if I truly mean it.

 

Peter Shaw

What are the firm foundations on which we build? What is rock solid for us going forward over the next few weeks? 

We are about to start a sermon series on Firm Foundations exploring 'who am I?', 'where do I belong?' and 'what am I living for?'. We will be exploring why it is important that we are children of God adopted into God's family, and what it means to be a citizen of both heaven and earth.

As we start a new term at work, school, church and in our community what are the foundations that we want to build on further?  How might we use the gifts God has given us to bring purpose, hope and new life to others?  How can we be both innocent children of God receptive to the nourishing care of a God who loves and cherishes us, and responsible adult citizens of both earth and heaven bringing the wisdom and insight God has given us?

C S Lewis wrote, 'Christ wants a child's heart but a grown-up’s head.  He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate and teachable, as good children are: but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first class fighting trim.' (Mere Christianity).

 

Simon Taylor

Welcome to the Summer! We’re doing less as a church through the summer because it is good to step back and have space in the activities which make us a church family. We’re still gathering each Sunday but the times and locations vary so check the website week by week. For example, we’ll be at the bandstand in Godalming on Sunday 13th August, 10.00am

The summer is a great time to look around and invite members of the church family round for drinks, a BBQ or just meet up for conversation. Also, there will be visitors at worship through the summer so do look out for people you don’t know and offer a good BHC welcome. You never know, you could be welcoming angels! (Hebrews 13:2).

We might not realise it, but being welcoming, even to people who disagree with us, marks us out as different. We might assume that everyone acts as we do, but this is simply not the case.

We were on a French campsite with some other members of the church family. A couple nearby were really friendly. We all chatted over the next few days and all seemed to be going well. Then we noticed that they had a Christian style fish shaped piece of plastic on the back of their car. This symbol is an ichthus sign meaning ‘Jesus Christ God’s Son Saviour’. It was used as a secret sign by Christians who were persecuted. We did the usual careful, English thing of asking an oblique question about the fish. They responded aggressively “Look carefully. It has legs drawn on it. We’re Darwinians.” They walked away immediately and scowled at us for the rest of the week. There were no more friendships or chats.

 Who might you welcome into your home or in worship in Jesus Name through this summer?

 

Dudley Hilton

Responsibility – that’s something of an underused word these days. Everyone seems fixated on rights – human rights, rights of ethnic minorities, women’s rights, consumers’ rights and so on. None of which is wrong of itself; it’s just that in wider society the concept of responsibility seems to have become marginalised, subordinated totally to the demand for individual rights to be recognised above all else. 

Last week we looked at the freedom that comes from turning to Christ and recognising and accepting the truth that God loves each one of us, and that nothing can ever change that.  Paradoxically (or so it seems; in reality it is not at all paradoxical!), as we become more aware of this freedom, so we become more aware of the responsibility that comes with it.

And it is quite a responsibility, as today’s passages make clear. The parable of the talents in Matthew’s gospel talks of our responsibility to use the gifts we have been entrusted with well, and not hide them in the ground. In it the “good and faithful servant” is contrasted with the “wicked, lazy servant”. The Corinthians passage talks of being “responsible to God” and “remaining in the situation in which God has called you.”

Challenging stuff – which, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s challenge to the USA in his 1961 Inaugural Address, might be summed up as “Ask not what God can do for you – ask what you can do for God”. Challenging, yes – but paradoxically (or not!) also strangely liberating...

Gertrud Sollars

Jesus got into hot water with the Jews by suggesting that they might not be free –

“We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone!”

They forgot that they had been slaves of the Egyptians until God rescued them in the Exodus, and again they were slaves of the Babylonians during the Exile.

Even at the time of Jesus, they were, as a people, enslaved to the Romans and not in control of their own affairs – they were taxed to the hilt, they were subject to forced labour, and a Roman soldier could pick a person off the street and command him to carry his kit to the next staging post. An unpalatable truth, which might just explain why they reacted so angrily.

Today we are equally precious about considering ourselves to be free. We feel sorry for those who can’t choose where to live, what work to do or how to worship, and we are justifiably appalled by oppressive regimes like that in North Korea. But how free are we ourselves? E.g. how free are we to reject consumerism? Who dictates what we wear? How much are we in control of our time? On the news this week we saw the horrendous example of girls as young as nine seeking cosmetic surgery in order to conform to a particular ideal. If this is freedom, I’m not sure I want it.

Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” The truth is that God loves me, he is for me, and nothing can ever change that. That is truly liberating.

 

Mark Williams

Why do I feel like this?
 

Am I alone in feeling that my time is constantly squeezed leading to compromise and a feeling of letting someone (possibly everyone) down? Has the world so ensnared me that my priorities are wrong and the things I allow to consume my time have grown too powerful?  Is my perspective wrong? 

I was wrestling with these thoughts this morning when “ping” went my mobile phone (ironically the conduit by which much of the above sentiment is conveyed) and today’s bible verse appears; Jeremiah 17:  5- 8. Go on, read it. It hit me square between the eyes.

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him”.  

I feel like a child whose toy train had come off the tracks and whose father is coming to pick up the train and set me going again.

Next week will be different…

 

Peter Shaw

Today is Patronal Festival at Busbridge Church when we remember the contribution of John the Baptist.  Hambledon Church is named after the disciple Peter so the Benefice has two remarkable figures it holds in veneration.  Both John the Baptist and Peter pointed to Jesus as Master and Lord. 

John said he was not worthy to undo the sandals on Jesus’ feet.  He baptised Jesus and encouraged others to follow him.  Peter spoke up for Jesus at Pentecost and as leader of the young church.  Both John and Peter used the freedom they had to speak out.  Both took their responsibilities seriously and faced opposition and criticism. John was prepared to speak out describing the Pharisees as a 'brood of vipers'.

For two Sundays in July we will be looking at the theme of 'Freedom and Responsibility'. John and Peter used the freedoms they had to bring a voice that pointed to the relevance of the words and actions of Jesus. 

Jesus tells his disciples 'the truth will set you free'.  What is this freedom about?  A freedom from being enslaved by the expectations of others and our own self delusions.  A freedom that comes from the perspective of eternity that is grounded in a God who loves us and “sets us free so we are free indeed"

May we be inspired by John the Baptist and Peter as our Church patrons in the way they combined exercising freedom with a clear sense of living out their responsibilities.

 

Alan Harvey

What do you make of opening of the prodigal son story? The son who asked his still-alive father for his inheritance. Just couldn’t wait, breaking a key social taboo. And the brother who didn’t ask – presumably receiving nothing at the time. He just stayed on with Dad.

Today, things are more complicated. The bank of (again, still-alive!) Mum and Dad can be a source to help out the young, what with the housing market being the way it is. How generous - how even-handed - should older parents be, given the varying needs of youngsters, and a landscape that can dramatically shift? Many years ago, I heard of a live-at-home daughter who was left a bungalow in its entirety by her parents ‘because she would never marry’. But soon after they died, she did! Subsequent requests from her brother for a cut of the cake fell on deaf ears. Perhaps we in turn wrestle - as donors or recipients - with what we should do, or expect? 

It’s far from straightforward. For those of us who are fathers, on Father’s Day, maybe we struggle knowing we have not always been that role model of fair-minded generosity. We have to live with our own imperfections.

Fortunately we have the assurance of an understanding, loving heavenly Father who is outrageously generous in both grace and provision. As the song says: “Thank you, O my Father, for giving us your Son, and leaving your Spirit till the work on earth is done.”

 

Clare Haddad

Today is Trinity Sunday when we celebrate our personal and powerful God who we know as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

There is great mystery in the Trinity and illustrations such as H2O in its three forms of water, ice and steam can be useful but only in a limited way because our God, quite apart from being the creator of H2O, is a personal and relational God.

We can all too easily underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Last Sunday (Pentecost) many of us went to the Beacon event “Thy Kingdom Come” at the Cathedral. Justin Welby did a whistle stop tour of Cathedrals including Guildford.  It was the day after the London Bridge massacre and Archbishop Welby spoke inspirationally on the radio from a Beacon service:

 “Come Holy Spirit: The strongest power in the world is the love of Jesus Christ. It is more powerful than the evil of terror or the profound wickedness of the terrorist. It is invisible to most rulers, it has no Twitter account and does not show up on Facebook. It has overcome more nations than armies, changed more lives than the finest orators and drawn more people into true community than all the social media that there is, has been or ever could be. It breaks down barriers between races, it tears down the frontiers between nations, it overcomes the oppressions between genders and classes and capacity or wealth or education.”   

 

David Jenkins

Some thoughts about cars…

What was your first car? You might think it a strange question, but I remember my first car with great affection. I even have its number on the tip of my tongue SNK 17D whereas I have to stop and think if you wanted the number of my present car. The car had a revolutionary design. It was a Wedgwood blue Triumph Herald with a sub-chassis and a bonnet, which folded forward to give you full access to the engine. Maintaining most of the working parts was easy and for this reason it was a good car to use for gaining mechanical experience. You could even sit on the front wheel while you worked on the engine, they don’t make them like that any more! For all its good points it had one major failing, in a word RUST. No matter how much care you took over the bodywork it just seemed to rust away before youreyes. Re-sprays and under seal could hold it at bay but it always came back again so with some sadness it had to go.

Like a car the Christian Church is made up of different parts, that is to say, you and me and we are given different gifts. Like the components of a car we are all called upon to make the whole thing work efficiently. In todays reading we hear about some of the gifts; Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Working Miracles, Prophesy, distinguishing between Spirits, Tongues and The interpretation of Tongues, all for the common good. Now you might ask where are some of these gifts in our church? Could it be that they are there but somehow they have been allowed to get rusty?

 

Andy Spencer

What sort of world do we live in when a child of 8, along with 21 other people, is slaughtered in the name of a religion?

What is the world coming to when the lives of thousands are turned upside down by the aftermath of such an atrocity?

Good as our security services are, they cannot possibly detect every would-be terrorist act. We have to be vigilant too.

At one of our services last week, Ian described his working day and the good conversations he had with colleagues of other faiths and none. When asked for his favourite bible verse, he quoted Micah 6 verse 8:

What does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Those words take us beyond ourselves to our relationships with those we meet day by day and with God. They take us on to our frontline where we put them into practice. While it is natural to seek justice for those directly affected last Monday, we are required to act justly as we seek fairness and equality for all, particularly the weak and powerless.

To love mercy is to show kindness as in love, loyalty and faithfulness to those with whom we have a relationship.

To walk humbly with our God is to love him in the same way he loves us. A tall order, but with his help we can, and together we can make a difference. There is an old Chinese proverb: change the world begin with me.

The ball is in our court!

 

Frances Shaw

Small things make a difference. Trying to get home from the other side of Guildford when the A3 and all surrounding roads were gridlocked, I decided to sit it out in a café. I had checked the traffic on my phone so often that the battery ran out. Some people at the next table, seeing my frustration, offered me their phone to make a call – probably a small thing to them, but a big thing for me.

Someone called Edward Lorenz coined what is known as the ‘butterfly effect’-  the concept that small events can have large, widespread consequences. The name comes from his suggestion that a massive storm might have its roots in the faraway flapping of a tiny butterfly's wings.

Apparently this is only the first part of what Lorenz actually said. He went on to say that although science might suggest that any prediction is possible as long as we have enough information, in reality, the larger meaning of the butterfly effect is not that we can readily track such connections, but that we can't.

We tend to think that the world should be comprehensible, that everything happens for a reason, and we can pinpoint all those reasons, however small they may be. But nature, and human nature in particular, defies this expectation.

We may not think our ‘flapping’ makes any difference at all. On the other hand, it may set off a ‘storm’. God calls us to be faithful and to leave the ‘completion’ to Him (Phil. 1.6).

As Bishop Festo Kivengere once said, ‘I’m just an ordinary Christian. There are no extraordinary Christians anywhere, just ordinary ones saved by an extraordinary Saviour’.