Seeing God in the ordinary. (November 2017)
Since the middle of September some 21 adults and young people have been preparing for their Confirmation which will take place later this month. It is always a great privilege for me to be able to walk with others on this part of their journey in faith. And I have say, I learn as much from them as they hopefully do from me.
At one of the early sessions we were reflecting on the different ways we can know God, and how we can experience His presence with us each day. I shared with the youngsters how lots of people feel a real sense of awe and wonder when they look at nature, and how the created world reveals God’s beauty and majesty in so many ways. There is perhaps nothing more wonderful than watching the sun rise or set as it turns the sky into amazing colours.
Given that it was a lovely evening, I asked them to walk around the outside of the hall, and for each to bring me just one item that said something to them about God. Off they went with great enthusiasm. It was not long before they returned with a variety of objects. Amongst them was a blackberry-for God feeds us, a rose petal reminding us of God’s love, a brick which said something about God’s strength and how we are made strong with Him in our lives. But the object that really surprised me was presented by Katie Turner. With a grin on her face and with great aplomb, she plonked in front of me an ordinary plastic garden chair. A chair that I have to say had seen better days and was a bit dirty and weather beaten. Feeling rather bemused I asked her what the chair said to her about God, her answer blew my mind. In her own wonderful dramatic way, Katie replied, “well, when you feel tired or worn out, when life seems hard, you can simply rest in God”. And with that she slumped into the chair.
What an amazing way to look at an old chair, what depth of thinking and insight. Once again I was reminded, we should never underestimate the young. Their spirituality is so pure and deep, their minds are uncomplicated and in so many ways their hearts are wide open.
So when you next sit in a garden chair, or in any chair for that matter, remember, that you too can rest in God, for He will hold you at all times, especially when you are tired or overburdened. Jesus said, ‘come to me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest’. Through the eyes of Katie, this rest is to be found even in a battered old garden chair.
So thank you Katie, as I said to you at the time, you along with the others, will do great things for God. and may we all see God in the very ordinary things around us day by day.
Life is so exciting. Embracing the future – (October 2017)
I can hardly believe it, my little Grandson Ashley has just started ‘big’ school. Where on earth has the time gone, it only seems like yesterday that he was brand new, now he is stepping out into the big world, and goodness me, he was so excited about it.
At just four and a half years old, Ashley had counted down the sleeps until the big day arrived. There were no tears, no fears, he simply could not wait to put his uniform on, run down the road and step into his class. He has not been impressed with the staggered start that schools now offer, but he is so proud to announce that he is now a BIG boy.
I’m not sure how long this view of school will last, but it has been a delight to observe how easily he seemed to embrace this next stage of his life. Although to be honest, life itself has always been so very exciting for this young lad.
As I reflected on how fast he had grown up, I realised that life, the whole of life is in fact about moving from one stage to another. The future continually opens up to each of us, like a series of doors that we walk through one by one.
But, are we as excited as Ashley about the new stages of life that we encounter, do we enter them wholeheartedly?, or do they sometimes pass by without us really taking too much notice. The answer I’m sure is most likely yes when we are young, new schools, first jobs, love and relationships can on the whole be wonderful experiences, and we embrace those stages fully.
But as we get older, the wrinkles and creaky bones remind us that we have already done so much, that there are perhaps more years behind us than in front, and maybe we fear what is to come.
Let us remember, that life is a gift, we may not have the energy we always had, but no matter what is going on in our life, we will always have something to offer to those around us, God’s amazing love. So let us all try to embrace the whole of life, may we find something each day to feel excited about, and may we never take life for granted.
Reminders from the Rectory – (September 2017)
Welcome back to all of you who have been away on your summer break. And may God Bless all our young people as they prepare to start a new term at school, college or university. Also a big thank you to those who led our services during August especially the Revd. David Hider.
As we move in to the final quarter of this year, there are lots of special services and events to look forward to.
September 9th is the date for the Annual Ride and Stride, both churches are taking part, and it’s not too late for more of you to join those already signed up. You do not have to go far, you do not even have to ride a bike, you can walk, further details are available in both churches.
Then on the 16th/17th September Ryman’s will open their gardens to the public once more. These are well worth a visit, not only to see the wonderful displays of shrubs and plants, but also to sit for a while and enjoy a cup of tea and home made cake served by the wonderful folk from Apuldram church.
Looking ahead to October, on the 1st, Apuldram church will hold their annual pet service and celebrate Harvest at 2 p.m. All pets are welcome to bring their owners, so do join us as we give thanks for all the love we share with them.
Then open the 8th October, Fishbourne will have their Harvest Festival service, with a wonderful bring and share lunch afterwards. More details will be on the pew sheet.
We will have special services on November 12th to mark Remembrance Day as we pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
Later in the month, on the 19th, Bishop Mark will be at Fishbourne church for our confirmation service. Those of you who are preparing for this event, please do try and attend church services as often as you can so as to further understand the joy of worshiping God as part of the church. Confirmation classes will begin on September 17th, 4.00 p.m in Fishbourne church, and run most weeks until 5th November.
Apuldram will be having a special service for the ‘Laying up of boats’, more details re dates and times to follow soon.
And then finally, for those who are hoping to apply for a place at Bishop Luffa school for your young son or daughter, please make sure that you understand the criteria, and if you are hoping for a church support form from me, we look forward to seeing you and your young person at church as often as possible.
Love and prayers, Moira
From the Rectory – (July 2017)
Well goodness me, I can hardly believe that we are over half way through 2017, where has the time gone.
As many of you begin to look forward to the summer break, and hopefully a well-earned holiday, I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank you to those who work so hard at the many social events that are held in each parish.
Just recently, Ryman’s were open once again, and the good people of Apuldram church made and served tea and cake to the many visitors. This event is always a great opportunity to meet new people, and to sit and simply relax in the wonderful garden. Apuldram church also hosted a wonderful concert in June, a fantastic selection of music was provided by David Russell and Terry Stanton. I am not sure how much was raised exactly, but I know it was over £1000. So thank you David and Terry for giving your time and giftedness, and to all the people who attended, it really was a truly perfect evening.
Fishbourne Church and school have just had their annual fete, and what an amazing day that was. Such a lot of work goes into the planning, organising, and running this event, but every year it is a great success. This year the sun shone brightly, and very warmly, and people generously spent a lot of money. Again I am not sure of how much exactly was raised, but the figure at the moment is over £6000. If you were there on Saturday you will have heard that the school will buy new stimulating play equipment for the children, and the church are putting their part towards a new heating system, which may sound a bit odd in the middle of this heat wave, but winter will arrive all too soon.
Events such as these are so important for our communities, because they draw people of all ages together and allow us to relax and enjoy ourselves.
And there is more to come. Ryman’s will be open again later this year, and wonderful Sunday afternoon cream teas will be served in Fishbourne church hall throughout the weeks of summer. Do look out for the posters advertising both of the above. Two of the cream tea afternoons will be in aid of St’ Wilfred’s hospice.
And finally, looking a little bit ahead, in September, the annual ride and stride will be taking place. This is a diocesan event, and involves people riding around, or walking if they wish, to as many churches as they can manage. They get family and friends to sponsor them, and the money raised is shared between the local church and the Churches Historic Fund, which benefits beautiful old buildings like our own. Do listen out for further information, and do join in on the day, either by riding round on your bike, or perhaps offering to serve a refreshing drink to those who will visit our churches from across Sussex. It would be great if Fishbourne could reclaim the team trophy this year, so we are hoping a lot of you will sign up.
Social events are crucial to the life of any church, it is so important to play as well as pray together, so once again, to those who work so hard at organising each one, thank you on behalf of us all.
On this rock I will build my church – (June 2017)
Fishbourne Church has as many of you will know two patron saints. St Mary and of course St Peter.And you may well ask, what is a Patron Saint and why do we have them. In a nutshell, it is a saint chosen to be the special ‘intercessor’ in heaven for a particular place or organisation, such as a parish church, cathedral or hospital. In fact there are patron saints for just about every aspect of life from actors, dentists, musicians, to nurses, refugees and even the weather.
St Peter was the man on whom Jesus said he would build His church, the one who was given the keys to the kingdom.
Now when we think of the Saints, we imagine them to be very holy perfect people. But this is not so. If you read through the New Testament you will come across a great deal about Peter, much of which depicts him as a man who was unsure, a person who could be rash, irritable and at times for too hasty for his own good.
Yes, Peter is a great encouragement to us all, yes he fell short, yes it seemed as if he really did not understand Jesus very well at all and ‘let’ Him down by denying that he knew Him. But Peter was also gentle and firm, a man of great loyalty and love.
It’s quite incredible really, that the man who was a fisherman, married and not well educated would be chosen by Christ to build the church of which we are a part of to this day. Despite his somewhat wobbly start, peter was the one who addressed the crowds at Pentecost and worked miracles in Christ’s name. he refused to be silenced by the Jewish council and went on to admit the first gentile to baptism.
He encourages us to understand, that in Christ we can all do amazing things, and we are privileged to have him as one of our patron saints for Fishbourne. Many parishes hold what’s known as a patronal festival, an occasion of celebration to honour the Saint of their church.
And so, this year, on Sunday 2nd July, there will be a special service at Fishbourne, this service will involve and include the people of Apuldram and will be held at 11.00am. After the service we will have a lovely shared lunch in the hall, where there will be games, fun and hopefully lots of laughter.
So please do join us on this day, bring your family and friends as we give thanks for our patron saint, who not only intercedes on our behalf, buy encourages us even when we get things wrong.
For on this Rock, our churches are built.