Well hello from ‘panto-land’ – three performances down and three to go. So far, so good; it seems everyone who has seen Ali Baba and the forty thieves has thoroughly enjoyed it and so too are we performers I think! I have really enjoyed how the Ockley Dramatic Society production encourages people of all ages and abilities to tread the boards and especially the children who really make the pantomime special by their acting and dancing. It has been great fun.
As I write this letter I am looking forward to Candlemas next Sunday which brings to a close the season of Christmas and Epiphany. Epiphany means revelation and all the themes of our services in January are all about revelation from God about whom Jesus was and is. St Margaret’s decided to keep their Christmas tree and other festive decorations up for the whole of January in church at Ockley – something which maybe has not been done before. This is perfectly in order as many churches all over the world do the same as technically Christmas doesn’t end until the beginning of this month. I can hear some of you scream in horror at the thought!! This morning our service was of both congregations at St Margaret’s and looking at the tree I thought actually how lovely it is and how fitting that we are still reminded at the end of January, that Christmas has really only just come and gone, and the fact that the church still holds the Christmas tree somehow symbolises that Christ was born and that he is still with us, even though most of us have put the Christmas decs away. (Ours are still waiting in a pile I am afraid…)
Well, things move fast in the church year, and as we celebrate Christingle at the beginning of this month and hopefully raise a good amount of money for the work of the Children’s Society, we will enjoy a short period of time before we start preparing for Lent. There are all sorts of services on offer as usual this month from Book of Common Prayer Matins and Holy Communion, to Café Church, a very informal way of doing church, to Family Communion from the contemporary Common Worship to Messy Church, and of course the Sunday Session which is a very relaxed lovely hour or so of live guitar and instrumental music held in Bob and Judy Cranham’s home, with words to encourage and challenge along with space to reflect and respond. You will see details of all these in our regular church services and events page. We also have another concert arranged this month in Capel church, classical guitar played by Andrew Scott (of Spanish Pop up Restaurant fame) and our own professional jazz guitarist Bob Cranham. It should be a great evening so please do join us! Watch this space as Bob has other concert ideas in the pipeline for us too!
We have also said farewell to some very special people in the last few weeks. Someone very special to us in our church at Capel and around the Surrey Weald Team and Ockley, Forest Green and Okewood areas was Reverend Canon Chris Drummond. Many of you will know Chris and his wife Gwyneth who have been very much part of church and local community for many years. Chris died just before Christmas after some weeks in hospital. He was 92. We had a wonderful Service of Thanksgiving for him just recently, where many gathered to sing many rousing hymns and remember Chris and to hear recollections of his long ministerial career in all sorts of places, including Nigeria, and to hear wonderful family memories. We shall miss him so much in so many ways but we feel blessed as a community to have had his presence among us so long and we are glad to be able to cherish Gwyneth in our midst. We also said farewell to Tony Goddard who was an Ockley farmer, married to Rosemary, who was our organist at Capel and played in many other churches too. Tony was a well-known and much loved member of our community and church. He was extremely musical and one of the highlights of his memorial service was singing with the choir a Christmas carol which he had composed. It was in many ways a wonderful start to our Christmas services in December. He will be much missed too and our hearts go out to Rosemary and the family. There have been others too, not perhaps so well known in both church and community, but equally special and well known to God and those who loved and cared for them. It always seems especially hard when loved ones die at Christmas time, particularly when that death is unexpected, but it is always such a privilege to visit families and to help prepare a fitting tribute and service for them in honour of all they were and contributed to others in their lifetime.
Many of us have questions about life and whether there is any truth in the Christian faith or any other faith for that matter. I am pleased to say well in advance that there will be a great opportunity to ask all the questions you have ever wanted to about such matters in an Alpha course which St Peters at Newdigate are organising. Alpha provides the space to listen to a talk, explore and put your point of view across, all in an atmosphere of convivial hospitality where we will all enjoy a meal together each week. The course doesn’t begin till April so there’s plenty of time to think about participating. I will be there in any case and of course in the meantime you are always welcome to chat with me anytime about anything!
Till then dear friends..
With my love and prayers as ever