Ben's Christmas Message
Celia Hayes Concert
PCC Meeting: 23 Nov
Operation Christmas Child
Favourite Hymn Vote!
Christmas at St. Andrew's
The Mystery Plays
Rev. Geoffrey Armstead
Subscribe to our RSS feed:
Share or bookmark this page:
May I express my sincere thanks to everyone who helped to create the floral decorations in the church for the service of Nine Lessons and Carols and for the Christmas services.
The church looked beautiful.
If you have enjoyed the floral decorations and would like to join the team, please contact Gill to find out more. New members of the team are always very welcome.
It is Tuesday, 8th November as I sit here and write this, looking for those words which will inspire people from all four of our parishes to come and celebrate Christmas in one or other of our churches this festive season. I must say, I don't feel at all 'Christmassy' (I must have spelt that correctly, as Microsoft™ Word hasn't objected!). But that's magazine deadlines for you.
In the shops, Christmas began competing for our attention some time ago - too long ago, for my liking. I recall seeing Christmas promotions in late August; still, clearly the 'High Street' is in mild crisis and so we must be urged to spend more and more. I'm all for fun and enjoyment, and see us as slipping into a new spirit of Puritanism in so many ways; even so, the constant urging to spend so heavily on such fleeting delights depresses me. Sometimes, it feels as if Christmas never goes away at all.
Hang on a minute! There's a truth in there somewhere, if only I can find it.
Each year, Christians, with a little help from many others, celebrate the birth of Jesus, the coming into our world of God incarnate, the divine in human form. That human-divine person spent some years revealing the true nature of God in the clearest way possible: by living as one of us, demonstrating unconditional love to all, sharing our human emotions and experiences, even to torture and untimely death, before being laid to rest in a tomb which proved incapable of holding him.
By his resurrection, Jesus revealed God as being in and through every aspect of life in all time and beyond all time: God in love with his creation and passionately committed to its wellbeing.
There's a truth in there, too, maybe even the same truth. Incarnation - the taking on of our human form - made known God in humanity, where God continues to dwell. God is there all the time, not just on high days and holidays, not even just when everything in the garden is lovely, but also when our lives are filled with tragedy and disaster.
This year has brought at least its full share of that, if not more, both on the national scale and on the personal. By his birth, death and resurrection, Jesus knows what we're going through, is 'wedded' to us 'for better, for worse...' and all because, on that first Christmas, he brought the infinite and time into unity: it is Christmas every day.
So perhaps I needn't be depressed that the 'High Street' seeks to remind us of Christmas so far out of season: after all, it's free advertising. What business ever turned its nose up at that!
Happy Christmas, one and all!
The figures of Mary and Joseph from St. Andrew's Nativity display have now completed their journey each night over Advent through Medstead, re-enacting their search for lodgings as told in Luke 2:7-20.
Starting at the Advent Sunday Service on 27th November, Mary and Joseph stayed with a different family, in a different place, every night over Advent, eventually returning to our Church for the Crib Service & Nativity Play on Christmas Eve.
Each person took the figures of Mary and Joseph home overnight and then passed them on to the next home.
Their journey around Medstead and their presence in our homes was a great way for villagers, friends and families to come together and remember the true meaning of Christmas: to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
To all of those who have found room for Mary and Joseph, thank you.
On Sunday, 27th November we held a tribute concert in the Church in memory of the late Celia Hayes.
The concert featured a mixture of Celia's friends, past pupils and family and was followed by wine and a buffet in the Church Hall.
Many thanks to all of you who attended the concert. To date we have raised around £280 from ticket sales alone.
All money raised will be split equally between Celia's charity, Hospices at Home, and Music at St. Andrew's.
Celia Hayes: An Appreciation
The Parochial Church Council met on Wednesday, 23rd November. As well as the usual business, your PCC discussed the following:
Our next meeting is on 25th January, 2006. If you have any matters you would like discussed, please let our Secretary, Chris Tew, know by 11th January.
Samaritan's Purse's philosophy is to meet the critical needs of the victims of war, poverty, famine, disease and natural disaster while sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
By the simple donation of a shoe box containing gifts for children, Operation Christmas Child enables people in the developed third of the world to make a small difference in the lives of those whose Christmas will be the direct opposite to that which we will enjoy.
When we think of the war-torn areas of the world and the natural disasters befalling many over the past year, such a project could not be more timely.
The practicalities are simple, this is what you need:
...and this is what you do:
Any of the items listed below are suitable for the box:
Please do not include any of the following items:
Please bring your filled boxes to St. Andrew's Church Hall on Saturday, November 5th from 10.30am-12 noon.
The boxes will be collected on Monday, November 21st, so if you are unable to bring them to the Church Hall, then they can be delivered to The Rectory, Bentworth, at any time up until then. Please contact Kathryn on 563218 if you would like to make use of this extension.
When you bring your box, please collect a leaflet which contains a gift aid envelope and an age-appropriate label.
Then, stick your label onto the box and place your cheque in the envelope provided.
The person who writes the cheque will also need to fill in their name and address on the envelope and this will then be placed in the box.
Let's try and fill as many boxes as possible - we were able to send 150 last year!
Bishop Trevor has now chaired four consultation meetings on the Future Ministry of the Church, two of which were attended by Ben and representatives from the Benefice.
"In the process of consulting the Diocese at large about the way ahead we do not want to rule anything out or in at this stage. So I would encourage you to be creative in your thinking and come to the Consultations prepared to share your ideas and listen to what others have to say. It is important to say two things at this stage. We are not looking for a 'one size fits all' approach to ministry in the Diocese. Rather we hope to discern what might be the most suitable pattern of ministry for different communities and contexts. Second, staying as we are is not an option. Whatever happens there will be change and this change will affect everyone. Our task, together, is to ensure that the changes we make serve the mission of the Gospel well and meet the needs of this generation and the next."
From Bishop Trevor's consultation invitation.
The consultation is in response to the challenges currently facing the Diocese: how the Church may best continue to serve the community of which it is an integral part, when there are fewer stipendiary candidates, the number of ordained clergy is in decline and there is less funding available to pay for them.
The first presentation, by the Revd. Simon Baker, summarised three models of the Church: one based upon salvation with the key virtue of Faith, one based upon service with the key virtue of Hope and one based upon community with the key virtue of Love. He concluded most Churches combined these three, interdependent, models and invited delegates to consider how their Churches reflected them.
The second presentation, by the Diocesan Secretary, focused on the Future Shape of Parochial Ministry under changing circumstances.
Parochial, or Parish-based, ministry is at the heart of what the Church of England stands for. He outlined the current position in our Diocese, given the current challenges. He concluded change could not be avoided, and asked how we could best use all our available resources to meet our aspirations for ministry and mission.
Following the presentations, delegates were split into multi-parish groups to consider some of the issues raised, including: "What kind of Church do you belong to?", "What value do you place on Parochial Ministry?" and how individual Churches might best adapt.
Ideas raised included: freeing up clergy by using the laity to greater effect, for administration, pastoral care and, with some reservations from the clergy present, all aspects of worship, including sacramental worship.
Other ideas included teamwork, single parish benefices, sharing expertise and resources across parish and deanery boundaries, loans and transfers and increased use of ecumenical links, working with other Christians.
The afternoon session was devoted to three seminars discussing Ordained Ministry; Lay Ministry and Structures and how they may be adapted to meet future needs. The afternoon concluded with a plenary session to consider key issues, decisions made and their impact on local parishes.
And so, what happens next?
For more information, please contact one of the delegates from our benefice: Ron Burnett, Kerry Magennis-Prior or Charles Shaylor.
We hear the phrase 'liberal democracy' often in the media these days. It's the political system under which we in this country live, along with much of the world's population. So proud are we of our system, that countries the world over which don't run their affairs this way are urged to adopt it.
In Iraq, liberal democracy is slowly being implemented and is being hailed by the US-UK led initiatives as their future salvation. 'Out with dictatorship, in with liberal democracy' has become the philosophy which underwrites intervention there, even if it perhaps wasn't from the outset.
I've been thinking about 'liberal democracy' increasingly, perhaps because we hear the phrase so often on the lips of our political leaders, and wondering about its benefits.
I've just watched a Panorama programme, Love Hurts, about the rise and rise of sexually transmitted infections. Amongst its findings are: "In the last decade, recorded cases of gonorrhoea and HIV have more than doubled and syphilis is up 1500%" - yes, that's thousands - "and the number of sexually active people under 25 infected with chlamydia - the most common STI - is now thought to number just under 500,000."
The programme documented a teenager's discovery that she was now infertile as a result of chlamydia infection. In addition, a professor who was interviewed revealed that up to two-thirds of newly-diagnosed HIV infections came from the heterosexual community.
How about sex and drugs? "Popular movies depict sex and drug use irresponsibly", a study of the top 200 films of the last 20 years suggests. The study, Sex and drugs in popular movies: an analysis of the top 200 films, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, disclosed that the films surveyed (all released since 1983) never depicted any consequences of unprotected sex, such as unwanted pregnancies, HIV or sexually-transmitted infections.
Edward Lawrenson, deputy editor of the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine, said: "I don't think it's the role of the film industry to educate the public about public health... If it was incumbent on every screenwriter to punish his or her character for having sex with a dreadful STI, films wouldn't be very enjoyable" (my italics). One has to marvel at the 'head-in-the-sand' attitude of such a remark! Binge drinking, drunkenness, violent and anti-social behaviour are all on the increase.
I've no problem with political democracy; it's the word 'liberal' that troubles me. For so many, liberalism is being interpreted as libertarianism, and libertarianism has become licentiousness or 'dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure' as it is somewhere defined. In a 'liberal democracy' citizens are treated as being responsible for their own actions and are free to find their own fulfilment. But how responsible are we? 'Individual rights' are becoming more important than 'social responsibilities' - and we are living with the consequences. Is it any wonder that some countries look at our model of 'liberal democracy' and hesitate to join?
For the believer, God operates by means of a 'benign theocracy', acting only in our best interests and encouraging - never compelling - us to put God first, neighbour next and self only last. Jesus put self last by going voluntarily to the cross in order to save us and give us a pattern for self-sacrificial love. Only God's gentle, loving rule provides the model for the fulfilment of all peoples the world over.
On a damp October afternoon, 36 children aged between 4 and 12 from the parishes of Bentworth, Lasham, Medstead and Shalden headed off to Ancient Egypt.
Bentworth Village Hall was transformed into a tomb of the Pharaohs for this occasion, as an alternative to Halloween.
There were plenty of tricks and treats however, as the children, who had all come in fancy dress, were invited to feel inside boxes containing brains and guts, make masks and marshmallow mummies.
Then came the all important party tea and drinks. The parents and children who had prepared the feast let their imagination run riot in designing scary food!
After watching a video, party games such as musical sarcophagus, tag the mummy and toss the mummy's head ensued!
A big 'thank you' to all those who made this a very successful United Benefice event.
In earlier Biblical times, occupations by a foreign power and natural disasters were all likely to be interpreted as reflecting God's displeasure, either against or on behalf of his chosen people, the ancient Israelites. For example, the series of plagues which afflicted the Egyptians revealed God's displeasure at the maltreatment being meted out against the Jews (Exodus, Chapter 7 onwards).
The plagues, including the first Passover, brought about the Israelites' freedom and have continued to be interpreted by many as the direct consequence of God's personal intervention. These events are thought to have occurred around 1250 BC.
Later in their history, the Jews were invaded, in Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC and those in Judah by the Babylonians in 605 BC. Both invasions led to the deportation of the peoples' political and religious leaders, while the ordinary folk were kept behind as slaves. In 587-586 BC, Jerusalem itself was captured by the Babylonians and the Temple destroyed. These acts were interpreted by various Prophets, as recorded in the Bible, as being God's punishment upon his chosen people for their apostasy.
I have heard it said that Hurricane Katrina and, seemingly, Hurricane Rita could be seen as God's punishment upon the USA for their actions around the world, not least in Iraq. At the same time, I have heard it suggested that the situation in Iraq is God's punishment upon the Iraqis for their behaviour in the world. Doesn't there appear to be a contradiction here? These two taken together suggest God causing grief on both sides!
Rather than seeking to blame God, or claim God's mandate, in every disaster today, whether of natural or human-inspired origin, it seems to me that we should look to ourselves for any blame we wish to hand out and repent.
Are hurricanes, amongst other adverse natural phenomena, increasing as a result of global warming? Have we listened to those latter-day 'prophets' who have been urging action upon us for so many years now? Will there ever come a time when humans learn to live peaceably alongside one another until all learn submission to the authority of God? (submission, by the way, is the translation of the Arabic word Islam).
As humans, and just like small children caught in the act, we continue to seek anyone else to blame other than ourselves, God included, if we think that will serve our cause. Having lost both his sons on the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres, Gustav Holst was moved to pen these words:
Turn back, O man
Forswear thy foolish ways
Earth might be fair
And all men glad and wise
Age after age their tragic empires rise
Built while they dream
And in that dreaming weep
Would man but wake
From out his haunted sleep.
Don't blame God: the answers all lie with us.
Few readers can be unaware the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar falls on 21st October this year, but many may not know Medstead was represented at the battle.
James Oakley was born in Medstead in 1780, and was a labourer before enlisting as a private in the Royal Marines on 17th October 1800, in Basingstoke. On 18th March 1803, he was posted to the 98-gun Dreadnought, under Captain John Conn.
The Dreadnought, built in 1801, was one of the newest, largest and slowest ships in the fleet. Through 1803 and 1804 Dreadnought spent a hard time in close blockade of the French coast. It is recorded that in early January 1804 she lost most of her powder when water poured into the magazine. Although she did not take part in the 1805 transatlantic chase, she was present at Trafalgar, with James Oakley on board.
Dreadnought was the eighth ship in Collingwood's column, and, despite her lack of speed, passed through the line about one hour after Collingwood, and about 30 minutes before Orion. She obtained the surrender of a Spanish vessel, the San Juan Nepomuceno, and engaged with another, the Principe de Asturias, which escaped.
In the action she lost 13 killed and 31 injured, from a complement of 703. The San Juan Nepomuceno lost 103 killed and 151 wounded and was taken as a prize to Gibraltar. The Principe de Asturias lost 54 killed and 109 wounded.
Although James Oakley apparently survived and collected his prize money, there seems to be no record of his service thereafter.
Robert Dean, Bentworth
The Ayshford Complete Trafalgar Roll.
Available on CD Rom from victory2005.co.uk
Medstead Village History
The Music Committee has suggested a record of favourite hymns be maintained, with the most popular being considered for use at our services.
You can use the form below to vote for your favourite. Simply enter your name, email address and title of your favourite hymn, and we will add it to the list!
Alternatively, you can contact Carol Fuller and she will add your favourite to our list.
This year we held the following services and special events:
27th November: Advent Sunday Service/Posada, 11.00am.
4th December: Christingle, 11.00am.
11th December: Family Service: colour, stick and build your own Nativity set, 11.00am.
14th December: Carols on the Village Green, 7.00pm.
18th December: Nine Lessons and Carols, 6.00pm.
The Church was packed for the service of Nine Lessons and Carols. Everyone enjoyed the unfolding story of Jesus' birth and the singing of traditional carols.
Additional enjoyment was provided by the Choir who sang a number of arrangements. This wonderful event was rounded off with mulled wine and mince pies in the Church Hall, provided by our Social Committee.
24th December: Crib Service & Nativity Play, 3.00pm.
24th December: Midnight Communion, 11.30pm.
25th December: Christmas Communion, 11.00am.
We also held a series of four Study Group Meetings in Advent, on Tuesday 29th November and 6th, 13th and 20th December at Down House in Medstead.
At the meeting on the 13th December, as well as a spiritual discussion on Active Waiting, we had an impromptu exercise in teamwork.
Paul provided a torch, Ben a car and towing hitch, John some expertise in knot tying... and Chris provided a car foolishly driven into the mud!
We also delivered St. Andrew's 2005 Christmas card, with details of our Advent and Christmas services and events, to 600 homes in Medstead.
If you did not receive one, you may download a copy of our card.
Yet again, our Jumble Sale, on Saturday, 26th November, proved to be extremely popular with bargain hunters.
I am pleased to tell you approximately £750 has been added to Church funds through this event.
Many thanks to everyone for your co-operation and assistance, without which this excellent result would not have been achieved.
The Social Committee makes a significant contribution to Church finances by their annual organisation of fund raising events.
We need volunteers to join this group ...the meetings aren't that many in number, but we desperately need new members and new ideas.
Another way of helping would be to offer to run an event. For example, we would like to organise a dance next autumn with a tribute band or similar and would love to hear from anyone who feels they could mastermind that, obviously with the support of the committee.
If you are interested, please contact either Bill or Sharon.
These take place in London at the end of November and some of our congregation attend each year as a way of starting the Christmas season early.
If you are interested, please see the leaflet at the back of the Church or phone Pat on 563474.
Our congregation, supported by representatives from various village organisations, assembled for the Act of Remembrance at St. Andrew's on Remembrance Sunday, 13th November.
Thank you to Gill and the Church Flowers Team who did such a splendid job decorating the church for the occasion.
Thank you, also, to all the children who came to the Church Hall during the Service to help make this year's commemorative banner.
As with last year's banner, this year's - Freedom - is on display, on the fence at the front of the Church, for all to see.
The new flagpole has now been installed, in plenty of time for the Remembrance Day Service on Sunday, 13th November.
The flag will usually be raised by Churchwardens or Sidesmen on Sunday mornings but we now need volunteers to lower it between 4pm and dusk on Sunday evenings.
If you live near the church or are prepared to take on this task for a few days in the year please contact Chris. We have four volunteers already but would like another two.
You may wonder why we fly the flag of St. George, rather than the Union Flag: the reason is the flag of St. George is the official flag of the Church of England.
We take this opportunity to thank Gris and Diana Davies-Scourfield who for many years were solely responsible for both raising and lowering the flag.
We are please to report that our former locum priest and friend, the Reverend Geoffrey Armstead, has successfully completed a two year course at Heythorp College, University of London and has been awarded an MA Degree in Biblical Studies.
Well done and congratulations, Geoffrey.
Friday, 4th November at The Birches, Bentworth, 2.00-4.30pm, or
Monday, 7th November at The Rectory, Bentworth, 7.30-9.00pm.
Established in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty, Traidcraft is the UK's leading fair trade organisation and works with more than 100 producers in over 30 countries around the world, helping them build sustainable livelihoods for the future.
For more details please contact Sheila Wooding on 01420 564345.
The Social Committee took us back to the era of big bands and jive at our Forties Dance on Saturday, 8th October, which was another sell-out success.
Re-enactors travelled from all over Southern England to St. Andrew's Church Hall to mark the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II.
The evening opened with a message from the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill, on a period radio declaring the end of the war. Wendy and Patrick provided live music, and the trauma of learning the famous Wartime Stroll will long be remembered!
Thanks to everyone who helped with the catering and assisted on the day, with special thanks to Colin Fuller for all his hard work and planning which made this such an enjoyable and successful event.
The dance raised approximately £670 towards church funds.
A very big thank you to everyone who contributed or came along to decorate the church for Harvest Festival, it looked absolutely splendid, and thank you to everyone for the very kind comments which are always much appreciated!
I am pleased to welcome both Gaby Noble and Rosemary Paton to the flower rota. Both came along to help with Harvest Festival flowers and have been persuaded to join us.
If anyone else would like to join the team you would be very welcome. Please contact Gill if you would like to know more.
Sadly, due to various other commitments, moving away etc., Diana Davies-Scourfield, Carol Whapshare, Barbara Morris, Margaret Blackman and Lisa Cox have all decided to put away their church flower arranging secateurs!
I am sure that you will all join with me in saying a huge thank you to them for their contribution over the past years.
It is time to gather in the harvest of our talents.
Please bring your talents money to Church after the 20th November and before the beginning of December, or contact Mary on 561440.
Following the success of last November's Music Recital, the Music Committee's next big event will be a performance of The Messiah - from scratch!
We will be using the Watkins Shaw version and we are looking for extra choir members, musicians and soloists to participate in what promises to be an unmissable event, to be held in 2006.
For more information and offers of help, please contact Patrick or the choir.
England Expects That Every Man (And Woman) Will Do Their Duty
and come to:
The Trafalgar Celebration
Bentworth School Hall
Saturday, 22nd October, 2005 at 7.30pm
Quiz With A Nautical & Historical Flavour.
Win wondrous prizes from our captured ship's hold.
Bring your own picnic and drinks, including plates, glasses and cutlery.
All for the princely sum of £5 per table of eight people.
For reservations contact 'Fred' Moir on 01420 562380, by 20th October.
Gentlemen are kindly requested to leave their cutlasses at the door.
Ben would like to spend more time on pastoral work and less on administration; could you help with the administration?
This is a part-time paid position, based at Bentworth Rectory. If you are interested please contact Ben.
Following the acquisition last year of new chairs for the Church Hall we now wish to dispose of the remainder of the oak and ash chairs which are surplus to our requirements.
If you need some sturdy chairs and would like to make a small donation to the Church, please contact Stephen.