All are welcome to join our Zoom service at 11 am on Sunday 31st January.
Please make your Christingle beforehand (see below), then we will be able to light them together during the service. If you can't make one you're welcome just to join us.
The service will probably take about 30 mins. It will include a couple of songs, a short Bible reading, a short talk by Rev’d Jane, and some prayers.
If children or anyone would like to contribute prayers that would be great.
Here's the link. Look forward to seeing you, Janet
Meeting ID: 879 2957 0677
Well, 2021 has well and truly started now. As I write this, we are reeling from having witnessed extraordinary scenes in Washington D.C., whilst we ourselves have again been plunged into Covid lockdown. The daily figures and reports coming from our hospitals and from those we know and trust in the medical services are bleak. Our school buildings are again closed to all but those children who really need to be there, and our families are again struggling with the juggle of everyday life and home-schooling, whilst our teachers are again attempting to simultaneously provide high standard remote education and nurturing in-person tuition, while they’re worrying about their own families. Our church buildings are allowed to open for public worship, but are under no obligation to do so, as the safety of the people of God is of paramount concern. Here in the Elham Valley Group, much as we would dearly love to be gathering together for worship in one of our beautiful sacred spaces, we’ve taken the decision that to do so would be to put lives at risk.
But all is not lost. We can find alternative ways of coming together – for worship, for education, for community – even whilst we are mourning the events we used to be able to attend. We can check on our neighbours and friends, especially those who live alone or who are otherwise isolated. We have seen such evidence of communities coming together over these past 10 months, a real expression of what it truly means to be part of the family of God. And, as vaccinations are rolled out, there’s a real sense of there being light at the end of the tunnel, of there being hope.
Hope. It’s an idea so often expressed. Sadly, we tend to use it now in situations where we actually don’t think there is any hope – it tends to have a negative connotation. Think about it. “I hope there’s a space at the supermarket when I arrive.” The unspoken expectation is that there won’t be a space.
When, in Jeremiah 29:11, God declares “For I know the plans I have for you – plans not to harm you, but to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future,” he’s not expressing an abstract idea, to be longed for in vain, with little expectation of it becoming real. He was speaking to the Jewish people who were experiencing suffering and hardship under the domination of their Babylonian enemies. They were desperate to be released immediately from the occupation and despair, and would believe anything that spoke in to that desire. God’s response isn’t to release them immediately from that suffering; rather it is to promise that good will come out of the trauma, that the dark times won’t last forever.
In many ways, our own times echo the desperate experiences of Israel during Jeremiah’s prophesying. We too long for an end to this suffering, the eradication of pandemic, a return to ‘normal’; we long for the day we can get back to the way things used to be. We long to be able to lay our loved ones to rest in the way we want to, to celebrate love and birth with parties attended by family and friends. We long again to holiday in far-off places, and meet up in the local coffee shop for a natter. Through the words of Jeremiah (and so many other examples of course!) God assures us that he hears our cries and he listens to our pleas, and he promises that the future he has planned for us is still there.
So, as we settle in to 2021 and the challenges it has for us, perhaps we can, as the Jews facing exile in Babylon were encouraged, find a way to be thankful for all we do have, even if it’s not what we wanted. Perhaps we can find a way of exploiting the opportunities the hardships have for us, even whilst we’re grieving what could have otherwise been.
Sometime this week, set a few moments aside to think through what you’ve been able to do because of the restrictions we have faced. It can seem an impossible task, in the midst of such encompassing darkness, yet holding fast to God’s promise of hope is what we are called to. For me, I’ve been pondering the quote below, from a film I love. I wonder which of my own flawed and imperfect prayers God has answered over the past year, maybe not in the way I had envisaged, but answered nonetheless. It’s not for me to question the reason why things happen the way they do, but it is my calling to respond to each situation I face in the most loving, life-giving, hope-filled way. And, even in the present darkness and isolation, I hold fast to the promise Jeremiah voiced for us, that God knows the plans he has for us, plans not to harm, but to prosper, to give us a hope and a future. May God’s hope and love and peace bless us abundantly this year.
Join me for a virtual coffee morning by Zoom
Thursday mornings at 10
Join the Zoom Meeting with this link https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78517135604?pwd=aDVOczdRcGYyT056UFZ1UXpacHQyZz09
Meeting ID: 785 1713 5604
Hope to see you!
Zoom is a videotelephony software program. The free version provides a video chatting service that allows up to 100 devices, such as personal computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones and landlines etc to use it at once.
It is completely free to use and is secure.
It is possible to join meetings (in our case, services) and not interact at all with the other participants if you don’t wish to – just keep your camera (webcam) and microphone switched off, if you have them.
It is also possible to access a meeting by landline telephone.
Whichever way you choose to join the meeting/service, you will need to ask the organiser for the link to the website and the meeting identification code and password, preferably a few days before.
Here is a handy guide (opens in a new tab/window) produced by the A Church Near You website :
The Jesus Chapel will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 4pm. A maximum of two people will be allowed into the chapel at one time. Social distancing must be observed, and sanitising items will be available just inside of the north door and in the Jesus Chapel. Please sanitise your hands and wipe down the chairs before and after you use them. There will be no prayer books, bibles or hymn
books available, so please bring your own books if you require them. Just the direct route from the north door to the Jesus Chapel will be accessible. Two chairs will be available just inside of the church for people who are waiting. The same sanitising wipe down procedure for these is required. Other people who are waiting are requested to wait outside of the church. .
9am to 5pm daily
9am to 5pm daily, (please don’t come in just to look around)
Everyday, during the day
Open all day, every day
Open all day, every day
There are plenty of ways you can still enjoy worship and fellowship from your own home
On the Internet:
Click on The WORD on Sunday tab above for weekly reflections and prayers from members of our Ministry Team.
Zoom services - see above. Contact Alison Dale (firstname.lastname@example.org) a couple of days before for the link.
Here are some links for videos of services and further resources from Canterbury Diocese and the Church of England
Canterbury Diocese Parish Support For some excellent resources and Apps for prayer
The cathedral will live stream a midday Eucharist and Evensong at 5.30 p.m. weekdays, and at 3.15 p.m. weekends. Please follow this link to access the live stream on YouTube
Follow the Church of England on Twitter
Daily Hope Free phone line: 0800 804 8044
Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full
worship services from the Church of England at the end of a
telephone line. Options available include materials such
as Prayer During the Day and Night Prayer updated daily,
from Common Worship, and a recording of the Church of
England weekly national online service. A section called
Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group. The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
Assistance during Isolation
Alison Dale and some of the churchwardens (see below, marked with *) have a list of contacts who can help or provide a service to everyone in the Group, from walking a dog to supplying take-away meals. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more, or wish to make an offer of assistance to others.
ELHAM VALLEY GROUP OF CHURCHES CONTACTS:
Priest-in-Charge Rev’d Jane Weeks: 01303 840219 (Monday to Thursday. Jane is not available on Thursday evenings and all-day Friday) email@example.com
Associate Priest Rev’d Stephen Dougal: 07764775507 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pastoral Team Leader Paul Jarvis: email@example.com
*Benefice Administrator: Alison Dale: 07985025381 (Thu-Fri 9-11am)
Elham *Peter Swain 01303 840408 - *Graham Ernest-Jones 01303 840645
Acrise*Simon Smith 01303 892162 - Martin Bradley 01303 864289
Denton & Wootton Sue Clough 01303 844324.
Lyminge *Phil Hawken 01303 862151
Stanford *Sara Myers 01303 814183 - *Paul Smallwood 01303 813198
Paddlesworth Celia Mosley 01303 893609 - *Lindsey Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
At 8am every morning, the Ministry Team will be saying morning prayer - do join us in spirit!
Here are some links for further resources from Canterbury Diocese and the Church of England:
https://canterburydiocese.org/parishsupport/coronavirus/prayer-worship-during-coronavirus/- some excellent resources and Apps for prayer
CHANGING LIVES PRAYER NETWORK
The Lord's Prayer...
The cathedral will live stream a midday Eucharist and Evensong at 5.30 p.m. weekdays, and at 3.15 p.m. weekends. Please follow this link to access the live stream on YouTube:
Click here for a stunning presentation of this poem
God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light
And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapour of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You've made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I
God of Your promise
You don't speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice
And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we'll sing again a hundred billion times
God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride
On a hill You created
The light of the world
Abandoned in darkness to die
And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You've done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I
Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You're the One who never leaves the one behind
© HillSongs - Capitol Christian Music Group
"Almighty God, please guide us into selfless humility that may encourage us all, to be mindful of the plight of others, in the nature and example of Jesus Christ.
To consume and take in accordance with needs, not wants, mindful of the plight and longevity of the planet which you have created, and our impermanent status as tenants.
Aware of the truth that God creates and provides, while we evolve through the discovery and development of that fact.
Loving Lord, you have made it clear to us, in many ways, that we must change and rebuild the way we lead our lives, please be with us, our strength and guide, as we attempt the difficulties of that change.
Lord... In your mercy, hear our prayer.”
For those who don’t know about Open the Book (OtB), this is a project which has been helping local primary school children hear key Bible stories from teams of Christian volunteers from one or several local churches.
One OtB team still wanted to do something for the children while unable to visit their local school. They are helping to fund a project to help children isolated in high-rise flats, or with large families unable to afford resources while isolated, called Grow@Home. This involves giving the families brown paper carrier bags filled with coloured and regular pencils, paper, rubbers and pencil sharpeners and with ideas of things to do and links to websites.
The Patch of Blue
A small book 4 x 3 inches sits on my shelf. It was written by Father Andrew of the Society of Divine Compassion in 1942. He was a priest friar whose church in London was bombed twice and yet, busy as he was, took time to write this little book of poems. His desire was to lift the spirits of the British people, much as we need now, during this current crisis. Inside the cover is the name of the original owner, James H Trench, along with his service number and base address. The following poem may lift flagging spirits today, as it did then, and is Father Andrew’s gift of love.
The sky was grey and, so it seemed to me,
The kind of grey that hovers threateningly
Above the world with all its fear and hate,
A lid to shut men down, not heaven’s gate.
Dear God, forgive me! That were never true, -
I looked again and saw a patch of blue.
One little patch of blue, but oh, so pure,
Where the grey parted, just to make me sure
The blue was there behind the shrouding grey.
That patch of blue gave courage to my day.
Friend of my heart, I pass the thought to you,
In your grey sky there’s still a patch of blue.
Grey days of duty and grey days of pain,
Grey days of weariness, again, again!
Yea, well I know it, but faith, hope, and love
Abide unconquered, and you yet shall prove
The sky holds still somewhere its patch of blue.
Here I have seen it: you shall see it too.
‘Tis grey to us maybe and wearily
We toil along; but we have had bright days;
While others wept we sang our songs of praise.
If now we only see a leaden hue,
Another’s eyes have spied a patch of blue.
Even when Christ our Lord for you and me
Breathed His last sigh of death on Calvary,
In all that darkness Love was still enthroned
And, though with bramble, royally was crowned.
Then came Ascension Day, when He passed through,
And skies for ever since have kept their blue!