Holy Week 2018

P1040380Holy Week is upon us once again and we prepare for these pivotal events of the Christian calendar with opportunities to come together as a church family in quiet contemplation, exploring meaning and, eventually, to celebrate when we come to Easter Sunday.

We started with Palm Sunday and Andrew inviting us to Hold your Palm Cross close in his sermon.


Events continued last night with the evening service of Compline in St Andrew’s Chapel and this evening, TJ will lead a meditation about Jesus facing trial in front of the Sanhedrin, based on Matthew 26:57-68 and a painting inspired by this passage “Christ Before the High Priest” by Gerrit Van Honhorst. Want to know more? Join us this evening in the Chapel at 7pm, followed by Compline at 8pm.

Our Wednesday morning, Communion by Extension at 10.30am will of course follow the Holy Week theme and there is Compline at 8pm – both in the Chapel at St Andrew’s.

On Thursday evening, we come together with Stoke Poges Free Church to explore more meaning and context for the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. We will share a sample of the the food and join in a representation of the Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. If you would like to join us, please let the church office know by Wednesday morning (and note that this will not be a full 21st century meal, so please make your plans accordingly).

Palm Sunday potGood Friday – we will meet at the Village Flagpole at 10am for a short outdoor service and then process quietly behind the cross to St Andrew’s for 10.30am. Coffee and hot cross buns will be served afterwards.

Easter Sunday – Alleluia Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed – Alleluia! Be there for the Big Day 10.30am at St Giles’ to raise the lovely old roof in celebration that Christ is alive and reigns with us! And an Easter egg hunt afterwards, of course :-).


Strapping on Our Armour

armourFood for thought from Andrew Parry, our Associate Minister

There are many proverbs in the Bible. One of my favourites is “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” Proverbs 19:17. What a superb reason to be a generous giver!

Some proverbs are well hidden – not all are found in the book helpfully called “Proverbs”. One of the little gems hidden deep inside the Old Testament, in a place one is unlikely to search (not quite as unlikely as the Book of Numbers, which is largely about, well, numbers) is this one:

“One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.”            1 Kings 20:11.

It is so profound in its economical use of words and images. Surely, if you are going to boast, do it after you have returned from battle? When you take off your armour and see the dust, the dents, perhaps the gore. If ever one is to boast, it is after the deed has been accomplished. When you have something to boast about.

Why would someone boast before having proven anything? Out of swagger, bravado, fear? Perhaps all three. The closest I have come to battle was my time in the emergency services. When there was a callout to a fire or other incident, we could not be sure how big it was. And I remember me and others suddenly yawning our heads off; a way of the body releasing tension. When on the way to an emergency as a paramedic, the challenge was, if anything, more personal: would I know how to deal with whatever faced me? Would my knowledge and experience, our protocols and support, be sufficient for the task? No time to boast.

I think people boast while “strapping on armour”, because when one has put on the armour, or the uniform, or assumed the role, one appears to be the real thing. But it is when we have to do what’s required of the uniform, that the differences show. Can the soldier fight bravely; can the paramedic tend to the injured; can the parent step up to the challenge; does the Christian behave as a follower of Christ?

In all of these, there is a daily battle to be fought. We put on our armour not once, but every day. We become more and more proficient at strapping on our armour. It starts to feel more comfortable, we feel less and less like an impostor, we look back on times when our armour took a blow, there is a dent here, some rust there. But we do not stop. In daily life, in life as a Christian, we do not stop. It is part of who we are, it is part of what we do. We do not fight to become a soldier, a paramedic, a parent. We fight because we are those things. As a Christian, we do not fight to win salvation (what atrocities have been committed in pursuit of that error?) we fight because we have been granted salvation. Then (if you must) you can boast!

Mothering Sunday

With posies prepared on Saturday morning, we gathered at St Giles’ on Sunday for a special service to celebrate all mums and others who nurture us. Traditionally, this Sunday was a day off for those who worked away from their home in domestic service to return to their “mother church”. However, in the UK, this has gradually been transformed into Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in May in some other countries.

In Stoke Poges, as in other churches across the country, we now take the opportunity to give thanks for everything our mothers, and those who stand in for them, do in our lives. We gave daffodil posies to them at the end of the service as a small token of thanks. It was lovely to have the uniformed groups with us for the service too, along with brand new mums, great-grandmas, foster and adoptive parents and all the generations in between.

img_3300.jpgIn the reading and his sermon, Andrew reminded us of the steadfast love of Jesus’ mother, Mary, who knew for many years that both awful and wonderful things would happen to her son. What a joy and a challenge it is to be a mum.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our service – and thanks Mum!

Volunteer Sunday

Our theme for this Sunday’s all age service was Volunteering. A big THANK YOU was expressed to all the people who volunteer for jobs big and small to make our church organisation more than just a collection of people who turn up on Sundays.

Lend an eye, an ear or a hand

We took a quick poll and most people were able to say that they volunteer either at the church or in the local community – that’s a lot of good neighbours!

TJ and Tina took us through a tricky Trivial Pursuit-style quiz (we earned all the cheeses!) and our action song (pictured top) was not the YMCA but “On a day like this…”

Every task is valuable: from bacon cooking to bell ringing; welcoming to weeding; chair stacking to children’s groups; mixing music to making coffee – all of these parts and many more make up the “body” of our church, as we heard in today’s reading and Andrew’s sermon (you can to it listen here). By doing a little bit within our abilities, lending a hand, an ear or an eye, we can continue to help more people take a step nearer to faith through a vibrant church community – ensuring that each person feels needed as well as cared for; appreciated when they are there and missed when they are away.

If you think you can help in any way, please speak to Andrew or TJ or call the church office. Next Saturday (10th March) we’ll be tying posies for Mothering Sunday – perhaps you can lend a hand?

Young volunteers
Illuminated manuscript by Theo 🙂
We earned our cheeses