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’.

 

James Ellin

A TYPICAL MONDAY MORNING

(Office/school/college/friend’s house etc etc)

 

THEM: ‘Oh hi, how are you? Did you have a good weekend?’

YOU: ‘Oh hey, yeah, really great weekend thanks’

THEM: ‘ ‘Really great’ huh? Why, what did you get up to that was so great?’

YOU: [SQUIRMING SLIGHTLY] ‘Ermm...haha...well...ummm...I spent time with some friends and family and erm...ummm...haha...cough...went to church...cough...’

THEM: ‘You go to church do you? Oh right, never realised you were a church goer! Wow, I mean, that’s good...for you...I mean, so you go regularly?’

YOU: Well, I mean, haha, ummm...well basically we umm...sort of erm....go every now and then yes....’

THEM: ‘Oh right! Wow, so...are you a er...a ummm...Christian then?’

YOU: [PAUSE]... [NERVOUS LAUGHTER] ...well...err....ummm.....

...cue ‘Eastenders’ style drum roll

What would you say?

What have you said in answer to this question?

This week...Nicodemus gets a lesson from Jesus in ‘spiritual biology…’

and undergoes massive transformation ending up willing to stand up and stand

out even in the face of opposition.

What would it take for the same to happen to you?

 

Catherine McBride

Does the word ‘evangelist’, for you, conjure up pictures of preachers on soap boxes on street corners, or slick charismatic personalities wooing the crowds at big-stage venues?

Does the word ‘evangelism’ get you really excited or does it send you running for cover? Are you thrilled that we’re about to start a sermon series which will get us thinking about how and where we share our faith or are you thinking “help, get me out of here!”?

If we’re honest, many of us think that evangelists are other people and evangelism is something other people do, in other places – it couldn’t possibly be something that we do, where we are. But what if that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be: not deep theologians or big personalities, but ordinary people…like us, doing ordinary things in ordinary places… like the gym, or the classroom, or the office, or the school-gate, or the coffee shop; talking to our ordinary families and friends about real, ordinary stuff - stuff that happens to everyone, like stress or exams or losing someone or being ill or worrying about the future? What if being an evangelist really means being someone ordinary who simply has some extraordinarily good news for their friends who are going through ‘stuff’?

What if evangelism starts by just sharing your own good news, about how knowing Jesus has helped you through similar ups and downs?

Here’s the bottom line: God can use any of us, anywhere, to be his Good News people. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

 

Dudley Hilton

How confusing... Last week we were being told of the perils of indifference and this week we have to practise it! Confusing indeed – but not quite so much when you allow for their different contexts. Then it becomes apparent that last week’s indifference isn't the same as this week’s.

Last week was about the “neither hot nor cold” indifference of the Laodiceans, the “so what, I don’t care” approach to life. This week, though, it is used in the context that five centuries ago Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits and one of the spiritual greats) used it when he told us that we should strive for “a complete indifference with regard to all created things”.

This does not negate our responsibility for stewardship of creation, but means that we make ourselves truly free by depending entirely on God, trusting him completely. If we do, what we want – and what others want of us – gets relegated to second place behind what God wants us to do and be.

This does of course mean that we have to start listening to God, and - harder still - acting on what we hear him say. But as Paul said to the Philippians two thousand or so years ago:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

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.