All Saints' Church Staplehurst Kent
The Church on the HillChurch of England - Diocese of Canterbury
The Church Office - Telephone / Fax - (01580) 891258
Email: All Saints Church Office
Registered Charity No. 1132851
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STAPLEHURST PARISH MAGAZINE is far more than just a Church Magazine; it contains a lot of information about a wide range of organisations, activities and events of general interest in the village. It also carries advertisements for many of the local tradesmen and businesses.
The Magazine Committee is pleased to announce that there will be no increase in the cover price of the Staplehurst Parish Magazine for 2016 which remains at just £1.00 per issue.
We believe that the Parish Magazine remains extraordinary good value for £1.00! You can make it even better value by paying an annual subscription of £11.00 for all twelve issues – that’s twelve for the price of eleven. To qualify for the reduced rate you must pay before the end of February; after that you will have to pay the full price of £1.00 per issue. Please pay by cheque if possible – it makes it easier and safer for all concerned and we will know exactly whose money we are handling. Cheques should be made payable to "All Saints Staplehurst PCC" and handed to your distributor who will ensure the magazine treasurer receives it.
If you are not already a subscriber, but would like to take out a subscription, please contact Mary Henley on (01580) 891225 or Email: Mary Henley
She will arrange for the Magazine to be delivered to your door each month.
Thank you, and we look forward to your continued support.The Magazine Committee
Welcome to this New Year, the first New Year of the rest of our lives, and a new beginning each day, with no mistakes, yet, in it.
Some years ago I saw a short film, and this is the gist of it. I may have not remembered it totally accurately, but the message at the end is right for me, and I hope right for you.
In Jesus’ day, young boys to the age of eight years, studied the first four books of the Old Testament. If they learnt well they then went on, up to the age of fourteen years, to study the rest of the Old Testament.
At the age of fourteen they followed their father’s profession, but also became a disciple to a Rabbi. This meant that they followed him and listened to his teaching and learnt from him.
Eventually, when he became older, he became a Rabbi and had his own disciples. This is possibly why Jesus was sometimes called ”Rabbi” and gathered his disciples about him, to carry on his work on earth.
In this New Year let us try to be Jesus’ heart, eyes, ears, voice, hands and feet in this life. Let no-one be the worse for having met and talked with us. Let us learn from Jesus, and the way he lived on our earth, to be his disciples in 2016 and onwards.
May God bless us,
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The Letter - LIGHT AND DARKNESS
We often take light for granted but when the nights draw in we realise how much we miss it. We are familiar with light as an image of God, but I would like us to consider the problems with that image for those who are blind and live in darkness.
Biblical images of light are plentiful, including sunlight, moonlight and starlight in creation, the hope to move from darkness and despair to light and salvation.
At the same time there are issues to bear in mind. For a person in deep blindness to represent light as goodness and darkness as evil is problematic. For a person living in darkness the reference to light about everything that is supposed to be good and of value can be frustrating, especially when images of light becomes exclusive and insensitive. There is a solace to be found, however in Psalm 139. "If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night', even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you."
Light remains a powerful image for example "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1:4)
In another translation of the Bible, The Message, the same verse would read: "The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out."
While thinking about light, I am reminded of a talk given at Christmas to children who were hiding glow sticks under their costumes and then brought them out again. It demonstrated the experience that at times we see or know that the Christ-light is present and at times we feel it is hidden, but know it is always there.
So may at this time of Advent and Christmas the Lord make his face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you peace.
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Summer is giving way to autumn, leaves are starting to fall from the trees; the light evenings are becoming darker with each successive night. Things are changing all around us, nothing stays the same. It’s because things change that it’s important to make time to stop and remember.
This time of year is always good to do that. Through these months the church gives us plenty of opportunity to remember all sorts of important things. Last month we remember with thanksgiving God’s provision of good things to eat at Harvest time. This month we remember with gratitude those who fought and sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy today at our Remembrance Services and we fondly bring to mind those who we have loved yet lost at our Memorial Service.
We also remember that All Saints Church celebrates its Patronal Festival this month. During the afternoon of the 7th November it will be a pleasure to listen to some of our musical talent – our choir, our band and others sharing their talents to the glory of God. Let’s also remember that we have a special concert on the eve of Remembrance Sunday full of beautiful music interspersed with poetry and prose presented by Stevie Higgins. A pleasure because our remembrance of Saints is an uplifting way of reminding ourselves of our heritage of faith in Staplehurst, and because a Patronal Festival reminds us of our heritage and history in this place, and calls us to faithfulness as God’s saints here and now in our parish.
Yet some things never change, the Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13 v8). He is the sure anchor point that we can build our lives upon through all the changing scenes of life. Whether our lives are going well or are in difficulty God’s constant, steadying presence can help us and change us for the good.
I remember reading a book that played with the word 'remember'. It suggested that we should read the word as 're-membered' as in, having the members (pieces) of your lives put together again. God can do this as we remember his love and constant care for us, but like the other opportunities we have to remember over these next few weeks we need to make a conscious effort to do this otherwise it will mean nothing. I hope to see you at our 'remembering' services and also at our services which help us to remember again God’s amazing, transforming love for us all.
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You reap what you sow
Jesus did not subscribe to the "if you want to have something done well, do it yourself" philosophy. When faced with a massive hungry crowd on the occasion we know as the feeding of the five thousand, he didn't turn to his disciples, saying "Finally lads, a chance to show you that magic trick I have been working on". Instead he asked for their help and they found a boy who was willing to share his packed lunch. Jesus worked with what they had and somehow he made it enough.
God does not need us to help him to achieve anything, but the God we meet in Jesus is the kind of God that wants us to get involved and to play our part in building his kingdom here on earth.
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"GOD". I shouted as my car spun off an icy C road just outside Smarden. I was totally out of control of my wheels, and so scared, as I hurtled across a wide verge towards a line of trees. A slight rise in the ground slowed me down. “Thank you, thank you” I said as danger was averted.
What would I, or you, have done in the same situation if we did not believe in God? It is all very well hearing people say that they do not believe in God, and be proud of their lack of faith. I suspect that if they were in a similar, or worse situation to mine, they would also shout out “God”. Who else would they call to and hope to be heard?
The secular section of our society may be trying to take God out of our lives in case the mention of His name will upset someone, but He is always there, waiting for us to acknowledge Him, to listen when we call to Him and help us as He sees best for us.
It is no surprise that in a crisis many more people think about God, and in a national crisis more people come to church.
Perhaps we should already be going to church and worshipping our heavenly Father before disaster strikes and we are desperate for His help. Who knows but that the secular section may join us and be secular no more.
May God’s blessing be on us,
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FAMILIES. …they are great, but, although we love each member all the time, we may not like them all the time, or like what they do. We, however, carry on as a family and sooner or later harmony is usually restored. Everyone in each family is an individual and understanding and catering for all their foibles can be a challenge.
We are God's family, and think what a challenge He has coping with each of us. Fortunately His love is unconditional. Each of us is equally loved, and if God does not like something we do, then he leads us back to his side to continue as His loved son or daughter. Sometimes we forget about God, but He never forgets us. It is amazing how often people say "that was lucky..." or "if that hadn't happened I would have..." Think about that for a moment in the context of God's love.
Of course sad and bad things happen in our families and the world because we are human, but fortunately God is surrounding us with His love to help us all to cope with everything that happens. Someone said that things do not happen to anyone that they, with God, cannot overcome.
As God's family many people go to services in the churches in our village. This is similar to being at home with our families and talking and praising and encouraging and asking each other about all the day to day concerns and achievements.
Some people say they can be good Christians without going to church, and they are right, but it is helpful to be together with other Christians in the family of the church, to ask for support and guidance from God in all we do.
May we all receive God's blessing.
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MAY- Maia's month
May has always had 31 days. The original Roman year had 10 named months Martius "March", Aprilis "April", Maius "May", Junius "June", Quintilis "July", Sextilis "August", September "September", October "October", November "November", December "December", and probably two unnamed months in the dead of winter when not much happened in agriculture.
The year began with Martius "March". Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome circa 700 BC, added the two months, Januarius "January" and Februarius "February". He also moved the beginning of the year from Marius to Januarius and changed the number of days in several months to be odd, a lucky number. After Februarius there was occasionally an additional month of Intercalaris "intercalendar". This is the origin of the leap-year day being in February. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar (hence the Julian calendar) changing the number of days in many months and removing Intercalaris.
Maia (meaning "the great one") is the Italic goddess of spring. Maia embodied the concept of growth, as her name was thought to be related to the comparative adjective maius, maior, "larger, greater." She was explicitly identified with Earth and the Good.
When I am out and about this time of the year I find myself delighted by the beauty and colours of all the flowers and shrubs that break forth and I cannot help but be awe inspired by God’s creation. It often leaves me speechless. I love the story about the Buddhist monk who teaches his disciples what it means to appreciate and really sums it all up for me.
A wise teacher stood beside a lake and prepared to give a sermon to his disciples who were gathering there to hear him speak.
As the Holy One waited for his students to settle down, he noticed a golden lotus blooming in the muddy water nearby. He pulled the plant out of the water - flower, long stem, and root. Then he held it up high for all his students to see. For a long time he stood there, saying nothing, just holding up the lotus and looking into the blank faces of his audience. Suddenly one of his disciple smiled. He understood!
Enjoy the beauty of this month and give thanks to God for all that is good in your life.
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When we speak to one another we do not do so only with words, but also with body language. With body language we convey emotions and modify meaning when communicating. You may have heard people say: "Wait a minute let me put my glasses on, otherwise I can't hear what you are saying." This is an example of how words, our body gestures and facial expression work together interdependently to put across meaning.
During the Holy week, the week before Easter, you suddenly have Passion plays popping up all over the country. The passion of Jesus (the suffering and death of Jesus) includes very few words. The drama unfolds in what happens to Jesus and how Jesus and those around him respond to the tragic events.
During Lent and especially in Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday we attempt to retrace Jesus' steps towards the Cross we observe:
Comfort in times of bereavement can rarely be expressed even in the most carefully thought out words. Comfort comes principally from being there and simply sharing the grief.
Jesus shows his love and forgiveness most effectively when he "allows himself to be handed over into the hands of wicked people". He shows his love and forgiveness principally in how he reacts to what others do to him. Society in the past has erroneously taught us to judge people by what they do. The Christian message and the Passion in particular, show us that we should judge people by how they react to what happens to them.
"Life is mostly froth and bubbles, two things stand like stone, kindness in another’s trouble; courage in your own." (Adam L. Gordon)
I wish you a happy and creative Eastertide
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'Time, time, time, see what's become of me?' Simon and Garfunkel sang this particular line back in the day, and I must admit I said it to myself this last week. Where is the time going? Christmas was over in a flash, New Year is now in the distance, children back to school, and Easter Eggs were on the shelves before the Christmas season was over. I remember when I was young my parents and grandparents saying 'Doesn’t time fly!' Well the scary thing is, I am now saying it – is this what happens when you turn a certain age?
We were talking about a family get together in the future and I hear my son saying 'but that is such a long time away' and I nod, knowing that when I was his age a week felt like a month, but now I blink and a fortnight disappears. How can I make things slow down, especially in this Lenten season?
I Googled 'time' (what did we do before Google?) and I found some great quotes "Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein." H Jackson Brown Jr. "Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity." Henry Van Dyke. "Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back." Harvey MacKay.
How many of you have nodded your head reading those quotes? Psalm 90 is allegedly the oldest psalm and the only written by Moses and it's a prayer to God asking for wisdom to make the most of his time on earth. Verse 12 says "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Moses knew the value of making the most of his time left on earth.
A lecturer at college once asked a class I was in: Suppose every day there was deposited in your bank account £86,400. There is a catch to it, what you don't use during the day, you lose. There is no forwarding balance carried to the next day. Each day you begin with £86,400. What would you do with it? Go on a spending spree every day?
We are given 86,400 seconds each day. Once the day is up, it's history. You can't save it, it's gone forever. It's foolish to squander and waste £86,400, and it is much more foolish to squander and waste 86,400 seconds. Not everyone would agree. Many people would say, money is more important than time. Many would say wasting money is foolish, but wasting time doesn't matter. When the twin towers were engulfed in flames on 11th September 2001, money was not a major issue, the stock market was not a major issue. The major issue was time. Time meant everything. Time to get out of the building. Time to rescue as many as possible. When many were trapped and death was inevitable, then time to use a mobile phone to say final words to loved ones.
So remember Moses' prayer - God, teach us to make the most of our time remaining. Give us a heart of wisdom to do the right thing. We all only have a certain amount of time, so let's make the most of it. Realise the value of time. Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present – remember it is the most precious gift you will ever be given. Don't waste it.
May you use the days of this month wisely!
With every blessing.
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As the days draw out and the Spring bulbs are flowering, we turn our thoughts from Candlemas (the end of the Christmas Season) on February 2nd, to those for Lent.
Lent is a special time for preparing our hearts and minds to be ready to walk spiritually with Jesus through Holy Week and rejoice in His resurrection on Easter Day.
There were hot cross buns and Easter eggs in the shops before the end of 2014, some even before Christmas Day.
It seems sad that the church's seasons, in a Christian country, mingle together because the secular area of society has forgotten that these are symbols attached to a religious season. They see food, treats and money instead of setting the time apart for selling these items at the appropriate time of year. They want to be first in the market.
Perhaps we should try to be first in the market to respect and cherish these special times of the Church's year and try to be Jesus' hands, eyes, voice, ears and feet as we walk through this life.
May we all receive God's blessing.
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Now that the Christmas and New Year festivities are over, I hope this letter finds you refreshed and well rested from the holidays and looking forward with excitement and optimism to all that 2015 will offer!
From a personal perspective I struggle, frequently, with the darkness of this time of year, which can be made worse by cold, damp and inclement weather, but I am always uplifted with the possibilities that each New Year offers us. I'm not alluding to New Year’s Resolutions at all by the way, being the first to admit that I have failed to achieve them every time I have made them, but to the new beginnings and new opportunities that may be out there for each and every one of us if we look more closely, or just listen perhaps with an open heart and mind to suggestions from a friend or family member.
Often without really realising it, we may come across new avenues or directions in our lives which we hadn't really thought about before - it might be a hobby or interest we are considering, or we may find renewed confidence to give something that we have never done before a try! And remember, it doesn't need to be a glamorous or adventuresome pursuit or activity either and so if you have an inkling to do something afresh and positive, why not do it? It might unleash untapped potential never recognised before or just be really, really good fun to do.
And so I wish you all the very best for 2015.
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The "door" as access to Advent and Christmas.
We handle doors daily and probably take them for granted. There are many types of doors in buildings, fences and walls, in vehicles and in devices. Doors serve as a passage to go in and to go out. Doors connect or separate spaces and protect us.
For infants doors can be obstacles, but when they are old enough they learn how to gain access to other rooms by opening doors. Children learn very early on that closed or open doors cause associated feelings. If they want to visit someone and knock on the door, the door opens and they are welcomed in, they feel happy. Vice a versa if they themselves have visitors and open the door to them and welcome in their guests they are happy. Closed doors on the other hand can provide us with uncomfortable feelings of exclusion. Many children prefer to sleep with the bedroom door open so as not to lose contact with the parents.
Can you remember when you were a child and you stood outside and despite ringing and knocking nobody opened the door to you. Maybe you forgot your house key or lost it (again!) and you had to wait until mum or dad came from work. Or have you ever locked yourself in and you had to wait to be freed. This is very different from closing your door for privacy. The feeling of being undisturbed is beneficial as it makes you feel protected and secure.
I remember reading stories and fairy tales that featured doors. Often the closed door hid a secret and made me curious. We use the idiomatic expression ‘behind closed doors’ if something takes place privately or in secret or ‘open new doors’ meaning to give someone new opportunities.
"Doors" as word picture can connect or separate people. For example we associate "open doors" mostly with positive experiences and associate them with hospitality, friendship, open and honest people and a welcoming community. On the contrary "closed doors" can evoke feelings of isolation, withdrawal or being locked up.
Images, such as a door, closed or open can have many different interpretations. A "closed door" can also be of protection, security or privacy; and "open doors" could leave a person defenceless and helpless.
As you open the doors on your Advent calendar think about the secret message of Christmas that lies behind each door.
I wish for you that all your doors open for the love and warmth of the Advent and Christmas season.
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LETTER FROM THE READER
The 4th of August 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the day Britain entered one of the costliest conflicts in history – the First World War – with fighting continuing until the 11th of November 1918, Armistice Day. A special commemorative service was held on Sunday, 3rd August, to remember those from the village who lost their lives, just as we will remember them again, together with all who have lost their lives in the various conflicts over the years, on Remembrance Sunday, 9th November.
I don't know about you, but one book, film and stage play which caught my eye again this year was an exceptionally poignant story of one horse's experience in the First World War – "War Horse" by Michael Morpurgo. In 1914, Joey, a young farm horse, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges towards the enemy, witnessing the horror of the frontline. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him.
In World War I over ten million people, mainly young men, died. The war also claimed the lives of over six million horses. And it is this horrifying period of world history that forms the backdrop for War Horse, a tragic tale that is told from the viewpoint of the horse, Joey. It is a tale that cleverly portrays the ridiculousness of war by showing the horse's complete incomprehension of what was unfolding in the trenches and on the battlefield; the horse is simply unable to comprehend how, or why, anybody or anything would behave in such a violent, unthinking way and be able to commit such horrific acts. War Horse highlights human cruelty and human disdain for both animals and each other whilst also highlighting just how powerful love and courage can be.
There is so much conflict happening in varying parts of the world at the moment. Sometimes we just need to stop and take stock of what’s happening around us, to ponder on what’s going on in our own lives and to find some quiet space to think and reflect. I like to listen to some stirring, but reflective music. One piece I find myself humming time and time again with it’s wonderful cello solo is the Benedictus from Karl Jenkins' work "The Armed Man": A Mass for Peace'. Each of us will have our own favourite reflective piece or genre of music which brings us a sense of calm and inner peace. Some may prefer to go for a walk around our beautiful countryside and for those who prefer a quiet place, you are welcome to come and use St George's Chapel for silent reflection, where I pray you will find an inner spiritual rest.
With every blessing
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Throughout history, in-group/out-group dynamics have pitted brother against sister, husband against wife, aunt against uncle, cousin against cousin, child against parent.
The genocide in Rwanda is just one of the more recent examples. We may think we are different. Every person willing to speak about what happened there says the same thing. Except for the evidence before them, they would not believe that their loved-ones neighbour could become hated ones. It seems incomprehensible, but the same capacity is inside each of us. Learning to overcome our default social setting is the only way to guarantee that we will not turn eyes of hate on to those we love.
We like having clear categories, clear boundaries. We have a visceral reaction against cooperation or collaboration with the “enemy”. It is too reminiscent of the World Wars and the hated collaborators who betrayed those who helped the Jews escape, or turned Jewish men and women and children over to the Gestapo for deportation. Collaboration takes us too near appeasement. However, working with our enemies in ways that do not betray our core values humanizes us all. We embrace our shared humanity. Learning to see and integrate different points of view can keep our loved ones as loved ones and foster peace with our enemies. The more people practise these skills, the less hate is generated.
The only other option is to let our children and grandchildren continue to turn eyes of love to hate. The tales of Romeo and Juliet , West Side Story or Joseph and his Amazing Colourful Dream Coat (straight from the Bible Genesis 37 :1-35) illustrate the risk that transcends class, culture, and time. Audiences always leave the theatre thinking, “I’d be different.” We hope, with God's blessing, we will be.
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Several years ago my younger daughter went to a class on how to succeed at singing auditions. She learnt two things:-
We can learn from both these pieces of advice.
Kneeling to sing involves at some stage, getting back onto your feet. You may overbalance and fall and the effect leaves not the best memory of the performance. Kneeling down has its proper time and place, for example, when praying or when helping someone who has fallen.
Arrow prayers, (the ones which are sudden urgent needs), or most things we do to help others, are better done on our feet or sitting down. We do not want to be so busy overbalancing in our prayer life that we do not see around us all the people who need our everyday contact - a visit, a word, a phone call, a smile, a helping hand.
Nearly everyone feels nervous when standing up to sing, to read, to perform or to do any new task. Taking that small step often works - I know because I often have to do this. In our lives we should step out of our comfort zone and, step into the nervous zone and then out the other side and accomplish new things.
Recently I was with friends when we saw a shop with "Christian Duplicating Service". We suspected that Christian was his name - but it makes you wonder how, in real life, this could be done.
May we all receive God's blessing.
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Just over a month ago I finished my training at Ripon College Cuddesdon, a theological college in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, and I said my "goodbyes" to many good friends there that I made during my two years of study; many of us were sent out to serve the Church in various parishes scattered throughout the country whilst others remained at college. My "endings" gave way to my "new beginnings" as I moved to Staplehurst, and following ordination as a Deacon at the end of June in Canterbury Cathedral, I began my curacy at All Saints' under the care and guidance of Silke.
It has been a month of transitions. A new area, a new home, a new role, new routines and new people to meet and to get to know, and names to remember! Despite having a career in the National Health Service for 25 years, and living in many places during my life from industrial Sheffield to parts of Essex and Kent, I have always found transitions both testing but also full of excitement and opportunity. I have enjoyed my "new beginnings" here in Staplehurst and I have met so many kind, friendly and supportive people. The village has real warmth to it and I have felt welcomed here. My first day at All Saints' was a joy and I was greeted with so much friendliness and generous hospitality. And Staplehurst and the Parish Church are also so full of talent; I was blessed to be here for the Alternative Flower Festival, with its many awe-inspiring and spectacular displays, and the concert on Saturday evening and the Songs of Praise service on Sunday were both memorable and uplifting events.
I give thanks for both my "endings" and for my new opportunities here. I hope that I can serve the people of Staplehurst and All Saints' to the best of my ability as part of the team at the Parish Church. Although I have not been in the parish that long I am keen to get to know as many people as possible in the Church and in the village and so please feel free to contact me via e-mail or telephone or just say “hello” if you spot me walking to the Church or out and about in the village!
All the very best,
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