Andy Spencer

When Jesus was on earth, his words and actions were not those of someone who was indifferent to people’s situations. He was filled with compassion for the crowds who came to hear him, for their physical needs and for their healing. In the story of the Good Samaritan, he compares those who are indifferent to the suffering of the man who had been robbed with the Samaritan who helped the man. Likewise on the cross Jesus cared about his mother.

On the world stage today, how can we not be indifferent to what is going on? On a more local level where people are suffering or in need, how can we ignore them?

John Donne wrote that...

No man is an island,
entire of itself,
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.

Elie Wiesel, who suffered in the Holocaust and saw family members tortured and killed, called indifference a sin.

Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven leaving us to carry on his work of loving and caring for all because now he has no body on earth but ours to do his work. As Edmund Burke said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Therefore let us not be indifferent to our needy world but seek to know God’s will and be involved in his way forward.

 

Simon Taylor

18th C Coptic painting in Aby Sarga Church, Old Cairo: “Christ’s Resurrection: He breaks the gates of Hell  and saves Adam, Eve and the Prophets”

I grew up in a church which didn’t really focus muchon Palm Sunday, Lent or other moments of what is called ‘the Christian year’.  They were seen as human creations that could become rituals getting in the way of true worship – what mattered was Sunday, each Sunday, every Sunday. It took me many years to begin to see that we all have our own rituals and remembrances – the obvious one being birthdays, and they serve a purpose. Treated well and at their best, key moments in the Christian year are about bringing us closer to the Lord and deeper discipleship.

So, I wonder where you were last Sunday morning? To jog memories, it was Palm Sunday and there were two walks around Busbridge and Hambledon village to help us remember the start of Jesus’ final week. Why do we do such things? Because marking such moments helps us to recalibrate our priorities and put Christ at the centre of Easter in a decisive way. For this reason, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are huge events in many countries.

For us, they can be but one choice in many busy moments – a matter of weighing our options and deciding if we’ll be part of this moment of remembering and celebrating as God’s family.

For many Christians meeting to remember and celebrate is a matter of a careful decision as it marks them out for their faith in Christ.

Last Sunday morning, while we were wandering around peaceful suburbs and idyllic countryside two groups of Coptic Christians found themselves in a very different situation – just because they gathered in the name of Christ. So, this weekend we join as one with Egyptian Coptic Christians in the powerful words of Christian assurance over the emptiness of fear:

Pikhristos Aftonf!  Khen oumethmi aftonf!

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

As we gather to live this exciting Truth, see you on...

· Good Friday service for the whole family (9.30am, Busbridge)

· Good Friday, with over 100 of the church on the amazing church family Hot Cross Bun Adventure Walk (starts 2.15pm prompt at Hambledon Church, walking to Busbridge Church)

· Easter Saturday for the outreach focused Easter Garden service and egg hunt (3.00pm, Busbridge)

· Easter Sunday morning at Hambledon and Busbridge; 9.00am & 10.30am

· And don’t forget there is an extra special Unplugged Easter Celebration (6.30pm) – do come and support the younger people in their growing faith

For more details and other chances to gather, see the church website www.bhcgodalming.org.

Simon Taylor

 

David Mace

I have been struck this year by how easy it is simply to miss important bits of the Easter story if one just relies on what we look at in church on Sundays. For example, this Sunday we are looking at the Palm Sunday story. Last Sunday we were looking at 2 Timothy, next Sunday it is Easter and we will be saying ‘He is risen. He is risen, indeed!’ and we will have missed all the events in between.

Of course if we came to church on Good Friday we would look at the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and the crucifixion itself and if we came to the Maundy Thursday evening service we would think about the events of the day leading up to Jesus’ arrest.

Even if one reads daily notes one is not necessarily any further on. Jill and I find ourselves this week in Matthew’s gospel reading about Jesus walking on the water on the Sea of Galilee!

So, we are in danger of the vivid and important events of the Easter season slipping by us unnoticed. Might I therefore suggest to you that you take time in the next week to research and answer the following questions?

What important event happened the night before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem?

Who was involved? What was the significance of it?

What did Jesus get up to in the days following Palm Sunday? Where did he stay?

What important part of the church’s life was instituted on the evening before Jesus’ arrest? What did Jesus promise the disciples? What did Jesus command the disciples?

Clues: John 12: 1-11; Luke 20 and 21; Luke 22: 19-20; John 14: 25-27; 16: 5-16; 15:17.

 

Liz Cooke

2 Timothy 4:1-8

These are some of the last words from Paul that we have. What a powerful charge he gives to Timothy!

Pause for a moment to put yourself in the situation of both Paul and Timothy...

If you were a long standing and faithful servant of the Lord, with something of value to share with someone younger or less experienced than you, what would your instructions be? Would they be similar to those of Paul to Timothy?

If you were in a position of leadership, even if it is over just a few in a small group, how would the responsibilities and characteristics that Paul requires of a leader relate to you?

Most of us are under leadership. Paul addresses some of the difficulties our leaders might face. Think about how we could make their job easier.

He also shows some of the problems we might cause, not only for our church leaders but for those around us.

In this year of spiritual awakening in Busbridge&Hambledon, pray that our understanding will go deep, that our eyes will be opened to see how God’s word applies to our lives and our church. Pray that we might come to understand that nothing is too hard for God. Pray for your group, that every one of them will be equipped and ready to respond. What a charge Paul has given us! What truth we have to think about, take in and make our own!

 

Margot Spencer

Timothy was a very fortunate young man.  The son of a Greek father and Jewish mother, he was blessed with a rich heritage. His mother and grandmother were both godly women, who taught him the Old Testament scriptures and also, one imagines, prepared him to recognise the Messiah when he came. We can be sure that they prayed regularly for him and it would appear that, when Paul brought the gospel to their community, all three put their faith in Christ.

If we have children, grandchildren or Godchildren (of whatever age) it is our privilege and our responsibility to pray for them, to teach them God’s word and to share our faith with them. All of us – mothers and others – are called to play our part in this and we must never underestimate the effect it may have.

It’s important and life-changing, both for us and for those we pray for. It builds the next generation into men and women of faith - and that will have eternal significance.

The baptism service poses the question:

Will you pray for these children,

draw them by your example into the community of faith

and walk with them in the way of Christ?

We respond: With the help of God, we will.

 

Jeannie Postill

How would you describe the following professions...?

 

Soldier          Athlete          Farmer

 

How do they differ?

What do they have in common?

Would you consider any of them to include an element of suffering?

 

If you HAD to choose – which profession would you prefer and why?

 

2 Timothy 2: 1 – 13

 

According to the Scripture reading this Sunday the Christian is to incorporate

something of all 3 ‘callings’!

Which would you rate as the most important/significant for you?

 

How can we follow all 3 ‘callings’ at the same time?!

...Listen to the Sermon!

 

David Jenkins

Some of us may remember many years ago when Cranleigh had a cinema. It was certainly different and the atmosphere was what it must have been like back in the thirties. One Christmas I, and some of the family, went there to see the latest James Bond film. The man in front of us in the queue put down a five-pound note and asked for two tickets. The woman behind the counter looked down at the fiver and looked back at the man with a puzzled expression.  “Oh it’s gone up since I last came here,” said the man to which she replied, “yes and they talk”. 

James Bond is always on His Majesty’s Service and no risk is too great or price too high to pay to make sure that the job gets done and the nation’s security is protected. He gets himself in all sorts of jams but he never seems to be phased out. He always shows total confidence and somehow it always seems to work out for him. How often do we Christians show a similar confidence to the world? Or put another way, do our actions match up to our words?

In today’s reading Paul reminds us we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us and that God loves us from the beginning of time. Should that not give us real confidence? Confidence to go out and show the love of Jesus to all we meet and declare His love for them? I am sure that James Bond would not hesitate to act but perhaps that’s because he underwent lots of training. I wonder how your training is going?

 

Frances Shaw

When you walk into a church, perhaps on holiday, you can usually tell straight away if it’s a living building, a place of prayer, alive with God’s spirit, cared for by a loving community, where things happen and God is at work.

Busbridge Church was consecrated on 1st March 1867. This was an era of great Victorian building. The foundation stone for the Royal Albert Hall was laid in May 1867, completed 1871; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1858; Charterhouse School 1872. Work on London’s Tower Bridge was started in 1886; opened in 1894 and cost about £1 million.

We have no pictures of our church being built, and have not been able to locate any original plans. Although the building was deemed to be too small in 1911, we are fortunate that it is not a ‘great barn of a place’, dark and uninviting. We are blessed with a rich Arts and Crafts heritage. It may not always be exactly what we would like for space, but I love it. For me, this building is not only physically warm but spiritually warm as well, reflecting a place of prayer and grace; a place where God has been honoured, baptisms, weddings and funerals marked.

This year, 1st March is Ash Wednesday, and there will be a special ashing service followed by an extended time of prayer. Next Sunday, 5th March, we shall be celebrating with a service in church at 10.00, as well as looking to the future with a short ceremony and lunch in the Rectory garden. We will be praying for and committing the whole site to God, and welcoming back many who have found God here and then moved on into different forms of Christian ministry. Do sign up and come. Much has happened in 150 years, the neighbourhood and times have changed and the world is a very different place. Yet the gospel message of Jesus Christ remains the same. Let’s celebrate!

 

Gertrud Sollars

Have you ever thought of counting the ways in which God showed us his love through Jesus? There were the healings and exorcisms, the patient conversations with the disciples and enquirers, the controversies with the Pharisees and teachers of the law (examples of tough love?), the teachings and stories, the feeding of the 5,000.

Towards the end of his earthly life, John tells us ‘…he now showed them the full extent of his love…’. And what follows is not another healing or spectacular sign, but the Son of God kneeling on the floor to wash his disciples’ feet.

We know that the only people who were expected to wash another person’s feet were slaves (and wives, for different reasons). It is a strange action – very lowly and very intimate at the same time. How does it show ‘the full extent of his love’? It shows a love that is completely willing to serve the other, and it presages Jesus’ death on the cross, where he became the lowest of the low and yet drew us all to himself. Malcolm Guite puts it like this:

 

“And here he shows the full extent of love

To us whose love is always incomplete,

In vain we search the heavens high above,

The God of love is kneeling at our feet.

Though we betray him, though it is the night,

He meets us here and loves us into light.”

(Sounding the Seasons, Canterbury Press 2012)

 

Margot Spencer

Are you a leader, or are you (by and large) happy to be led?

Today, we are invited to look at a familiar story from a different angle. Instead of fretting about Jesus’ refusal to go to Lazarus straight away - when, in fact, his deliberate delay was for a higher purpose - we are looking at him as a leader who does not react as we, or his disciples, expect.

If we had been there, what would our reaction have been?

Would we have struggled to follow his lead, because we did not understand what he was doing? Would we have followed him blindly, trusting that he knew best? Would we have made a conscious (head) decision to follow, even though our hearts said “Whatever are you thinking?!”

For the time being, this story has a happy ending: Lazarus will die eventually, but now he is called out from the tomb and restored to his sisters. This story foreshadows Jesus’ own death, the death of the One who passes through death and comes out on the other side.

Given the current turmoil, both nationally and globally, many people have huge concerns about who we can trust and who we should follow. Indeed, wherever I have been for the last couple of weeks, people have talked about little else!

Sometimes we have to follow our leaders, even when we don’t understand - or agree with - them.

Above all, knowing that prayer works, we need to pray for them.

 

Peter Shaw

How does a good shepherd look after their sheep? The good shepherd allows the lambs to run around knowing this activity will help them become strong. The sheep make their own decisions about where to move around in the fields to find the best grass and to find shelter from wind and rain. The good shepherd does not direct the every movement of each sheep and lamb. They recognise that the lambs have to learn by their mistakes and learn to look after themselves and avoid dangers.

 What the good shepherd does do is protect the sheep. They ensure there is a gate and might sometimes act as the gate. They understand the foibles of their sheep. They look out for danger and will risk their own lives to protect the sheep in their care. They know their sheep and their sheep know them. 

 The metaphor of Jesus as Shepherd is a powerful one with its emphasis on Jesus laying down his life for the sheep. It is a reassurance to know that Jesus is our shepherd who knows us and protects us. But the cororary is that we as sheep need to be deliberate in keeping alert and healthy through exploring, sustaining ourselves, and seeking to look after the lambs in our care. If we want the Good Shepherd to know us we need to continually seek to know him.

As we focus this Sunday on Jesus as Shepherd let us reflect on what being a responsible sheep might mean. How might we explore the way we can contribute to the lives and hopes of those around us? How do we use the freedom to roam to enable us to see opportunities so we can sustain ourselves and others? In the words of Handel's Messiah 'All we like sheep have gone astray' but we all have the privilege and the responsibility to learn from our mistakes and then use the freedoms we have to be the best Christian citizens we can be in our community and nation. 

 

Andy Spencer

A good friend of mine, an ex-colleague, has for a long time, had a problem with his eyes which has now made him almost blind. Yet during the thirty odd years I have known him, I have never ever heard him complain. While he might be losing his sight, he has never lost the ability to help others, especially his students, as he has opened their minds to new truths, giving them insights into different aspects of life. He is a truly remarkable man.

Jesus healed a number of people who were blind, but he also pointed out the blindness some didn’t recognise - their own blindness. The religious leaders of the day were often accused by Jesus of being blind - blind to the fact that many of the prophecies they taught about were coming true in him. He also saw them as blind guides to the people they led.

Do we have blind spots? Are there things we could, or even ought, to deal with but don’t because we turn a blind eye to them? Do we need a different sort of healing?

Healing, God’s healing, can be experienced in different ways: through the miraculous, through the skill of the medical profession, through being given a new perspective on life. My friend hasn’t been healed physically but has been given the strength to bear his disability and in doing so has given to many students, colleagues and friends an insight into a truly faithful and fulfilled life.

 

Alan Harvey

Jesus the teacher is our theme today. How teachable are we?

We can look to God’s word in the Bible regularly to enlighten us on our journey through life. A daily cycle of readings and Bible reading notes can really speak to us, whenever we choose prayerfully to engage with His word and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us.

When that cycle brings into view a really familiar passage which we have heard many times, is it all then a bit samey and predictable? Not at all, because its impact will be different from before.

Because, in the meantime, our journey through life with God will have taken us into new territory, with fresh joys and challenges. The journey can even mean that familiar scripture will speak to us as never before!

God’s Word through His Spirit can variously bring reassurance and comfort in times of difficulty; necessary correction and gentle rebuke when we get it wrong; then again really helpful affirmation of our direction of travel when we’re following in His way. Or all three!

All we can do is to try to discern and pray into God’s will for us, keep our feet on the ground, and obediently trust Him for what lies ahead. If we are ready to accept Jesus as our teacher, life is never boring!

 

Simon Taylor

And so it begins… the Carol Service season is upon us and what a joy it is, but it isn’t just about carols and candles. This is part of gathering as God’s family from across Busbridge, Hambledon, Godalming and nearby villages.

When we gather we enter into a spiritual place of drawing close to God in a unique and special way. So, when you sing Away in A Manger don’t dwell too much on the line about ‘a baby not crying?!’ but consider this: ‘you are praising Him alongside your great family of worshippers as we celebrate the approach of Almighty God’.

Here’s a crib list (sorry, pun intended) to help you remember:

Christmas Eve

Busbridge: Candlelight Celebration for all the family 4.00pm / 5.15pm / 6.30pm

Hambledon: Crib Service 3.00pm / 5.00pm

Both: Midnight Communion 11.00pm

Christmas Day

Busbridge: 9.00am Communion with Carols, 10.30am Family Celebration (followed by a short communion)

Hambledon: 9.00am Traditional Christmas Communion, 10.30am Family Celebration

A final call? That every member of this family of God invite someone to come along with you who has yet to know the salvation of being part of God’s family; that they might experience the great news of God who drew near then and still draws near today.

Date for the diary: what is the focus going to be for the coming year? Resolution Sunday is 8th January 2017.

 

Margot Spencer

God with us - are we ready?

“Coming, ready or not!”

The children’s game of hide and seek is a salutary reminder of our readiness - or otherwise - as we travel through Advent and reflect on where it is all leading.

Some of you, no doubt, will have done your Christmas shopping, wrapped the presents, sent the cards and put all the festive food in the freezer. Others will be taking a more laid-back approach and will do your final checks on Christmas Eve. Many (most?) of us are probably somewhere between the two extremes.

God began his preparations for the first Christmas many thousands of years in advance.  Throughout the Old Testament, there are prophecies referring to a special child who would be born: we are told his birthplace; his names and their meanings. Many of these prophecies have been fulfilled - though only with the benefit of hindsight do we see them for what they are. Only when the people of New Testament times looked back through their history did they put two and two together and realise what God had been doing all that time.

As we walk through Advent and prepare for Christmas, our main focus needs to be on God himself: on the wonder of his first coming, as a vulnerable baby, and the wonder of his second coming, in glory.

Advent reminds us that - like the children playing their game - he will come, whether we are ready or not.

 

Dudley Hilton

“Morning, David**.  Great ‘Word’ last week, really enjoyed it.”

“Good morning, Dudley.  Most kind.  I see you are down for this coming week yourself.”

“Yup. Thought I’d major on ‘Hope’.  The sermon title is God with us – His banner is over us and if that doesn’t give us hope then what will?  After all, what with The Donald and Brexit and Putin we need a bit of hope, don’t we?  I mean, we all hope it’ll all work out OK, and the Isaiah passage for Sunday goes on about wolves milking goats and suchlike.’

“Er, yes, Dudley, but I’m not sure that Isaiah had quite that sort of hope in mind. I think you might be taking a slightly too ... modern an interpretation of ‘hope’.  I suspect that Isaiah might have had a rather more... significant idea in mind, more eschatological, perhaps.”

“Eschata...  Oh, you mean about the end times, God’s Big Plan and all that?”

“Yes, Dudley.  Quite so.  And I commend the Romans passage to you also as it speaks about ‘the God of hope’.  I think it becomes clear that ‘hope’ is spiritual and future, substantial and something to hold on to in times of trouble, rather than just wishful thinking.”

“Ah... I think I need to get back to my keyboard, David. Bye for now...”

“Goodbye, Dudley.  [sotto voce And good luck ... I think you’ll need it!]”

**David Mace – wrote last week’s Word (well worth reading if you haven’t already seen it).

 

David Mace

Happy New Year!

No, I have not taken leave of my senses, I am just making the point that this Sunday, Advent Sunday, marks the beginning of the Church’s year in terms of its calendar.

 My memories of the Advent season when I was young are that it was a rather dark time with readings and sermons that focussed on the second coming and on sin and judgment and God’s anger. There seemed to be very little looking forward to the coming of Jesus and all the joy and promise of that with the result that Christmas seemed to turn up rather suddenly and be gone as quickly.

 Things are very different now. The whole season is very much more upbeat, lookingforward to the events of Jesus first coming as well as looking forward to Jesus second coming to complete and redeem that promise. Our sermon series from now to the New Year is on the theme of ‘God with us’, exploring the implications of that fact and our individual and collective response to it.

This week our topic is ‘God with us – living in his light’ with passages from Isaiah and Romans, both rich in imagery, both with a sense of urgency for us to recognise the times in which we live. It is time for us to wake up; ‘the night is nearly over, the day is almost here’, ‘put on the armour of light, clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ’.  Messages to bring us light and purpose, joy and confidence in a world of darkness and confusion.

As Isaiah puts it ‘Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord’, this Advent season.

 

Clare Haddad

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

(Psalm 103 11-12)

This is one gem of many in Psalm 103, a psalm which whatever our time of life or situation will have something to uplift our spirit.

It is full of beautiful imagery: He crowns you with love and compassion, your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The psalm starts and ends with an outpouring of praise. Praise is not something which is a dry duty, it is something that comes naturally to human beings, we do it all the time: “How lovely to see you,” “This is delicious.” Praise is inner health made audible.

God made us to be people who praise him and everything good that he gives. When we praiseand worship himcollectively or alone hedelights in us. 

 

Margot Spencer

This will be a weekend to remember*.

 On Saturday, many people who have been bereaved, either recently or long ago, will gather in Busbridge church to sing well-known hymns, hear words of hope and remember their loved ones by name. The church will be ablaze (we hope not literally!) with candles, symbolising the light of Christ, which brings hope on dark days.

 On Sunday, we shall join with the rest of the nation in remembering those who gave their lives in two world wars and many conflicts since. The Royal British Legion is encouraging us to re-think Remembrance, in the light of the fact that many so-called war veterans these days are not old men, but young men and women in their twenties and thirties. People who have lost limbs, independence and sometimes peace of mind, in wars fought far from home. Remembering is important. Whenever the Jews celebrate Passover, they remember their ancestors’ escape from Egypt. They remember significant people, places and events, as we should.  They also remember God’s goodness and faithfulness, as we should. 

In times of remembrance, these words from Lamentations 3:21-23 offer them - and us - hope:

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

*A weekend to remember.  As the children would say, “Do you get it?”

 

Frances Shaw

Dreams can be of the ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ kind; or maybe of the ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ kind; or perhaps of the ‘I can’t remember where I parked my car’ nightmare kind. Some dreams in the Bible seem to be more like what we might call a vision, a picture, where God communicates with people at what often turn out to be significant moments.

In Jacob’s dream he saw a ladder, with angels on it going up and down, symbolically suggesting a movement from heaven to earth, and earth to heaven. When Jacob woke up, he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place!’ (Gen 28.17). This sense of awe or fear is often mentioned in connection with a dream or a vision from God, and this is one of the ways in which we can know that the dream is from God and not our own wishful thinking.

Jesus (in John 1:51) sees himself as a ladder, again with angels ascending and descending. As Son of Man he himself forms a permanent ladder between heaven and earth.

In 1866 Busbridge Church may well have been covered in ladders, well on the way to the completion of the building, which was consecrated on 1 March 1867. We are blessed with two beautiful church buildings, built to the glory of God. And God has now sent the gift of his Spirit, who enables us to dream, not our dreams, but his.