Baptism of the Lord 12.01.2020
**Please note the earlier mass time on Thursday the 16th
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
One of the things I find myself mentioning at Baptisms, and I’m sure there is a good chance I will mention it at Alfred’s later today, is that the words of God addressed to the people also apply to any who are baptised into Christ. “This is my Son, the Beloved.”
There is a good chance that you do not dare to think of yourself as ‘beloved’ of God, or sometimes sadly for some people, of anyone at all. To go through life with the feeling that one is unloved and un-loveable is the most tremendous pain and suffering. It is not how it is meant to be. It is not what God intends. By saying that Jesus is His Beloved God Is not excluding the possibility that we too, could be beloved by Him. In fact, I would suggest that He means exactly the opposite – He means that His incarnate Son is Beloved – as is all of humanity!
But many of us labour under the shadow of a doubt. I’m not good enough. I’m not holy enough for God to love me. I try to be good but keep failing, and so I have only God’s displeasure. If I could make myself good then, surely, I would merit God’s love – and attention. The great trouble is that, try as we might we never seem to make ourselves good.
But that isn’t the point of our faith at all. In fact, it isn’t the point of faith full stop. The Christian message is not that we should make ourselves perfect, and when we are, we shall look like Jesus. It is that Jesus looks on us and offers forgiveness and unconditional love. Faith isn’t actually believing the Creed in some abstract way as if it were a magic formula that if recited enough whilst walking in clockwise circles on our knees will make us what we hope to be. Faith is belief in the Son of God who loved me and died in order that I should be free.
Free in this context means so many things. It means freedom from my sins in the sense that they can no longer imprison us in their fatal grasp, suffocating us with shame and guilt and doubt and false ideas about ourselves. Freedom means that I am no longer, or have the option to be no longer a slave to sin – letting my own will get mastery over me. Freedom is to do the will of the God who “… so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Faith is also an aspect of allowing this truth to change us – this is what Jesus first cry of evangelisation meant – Repent! does not mean “start feeling sorry for your sins because punishment is on its way and its better to confess them straight up than be found out”. But change your mind(set) or to put it another way – come back to God.
Baptism is the liturgical, and symbolic way of marking the start of that journey of faith. In baptism God offers us the possibility of leaving our old selves behind ‘drowned in the waters’ and of rising to new life out of the waters – literally becoming a new person. The old patriarchs called this regeneration – and it’s a good word. All is new and through the Paschal Mystery the Holy Trinity now takes possession of us. Jesus dwells within us through His Spirit and through grace guides us through the pathways of life. He doesn’t take away our freedom though. We can return to our old ways, habits, dreams (nightmares) if we so choose. But we cannot undo this newness of life except to darken it by choosing badly.
At anytime though, we can turn to God’s healing and strengthening love which is like a helping hand always being held out to us. We can choose to accept it “confessing our sins” and purging ourselves of them, or we can wallow in self reproach and guilt and shame and spiral down into despair. The object though of the Christian life is as St Paul wrote… “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
In baptism I die to myself and rise as a sharer in God’s life through the Son of God ‘who lives in me’. He loves me. Did I mention that. He loves me not because of who I can make myself but because of whom he has made.
I live my life by this truth and it frees me. God bless you. Fr David
This coming weekend we will welcome guest speakers at Mass who will explain in more detail about the Week of Guided Prayer.
This year we are hosting the Churches of Cranleigh here at Jesus Christ Redeemer of Mankind at 3pm. We have chosen this time together as we thought it might be easier than coming out after dark.
The Week of Prayer gives us an opportunity to worship together, and to pray together, giving thanks for all that has been accomplished in the search for Christian unity and to ask for God’s guidance and forgiveness in finding ways forward to visible unity and full communion. This goal is still some way off, but we should be hopeful that it is not out of reach – it was after all Christ’s prayer that we ‘all be one’ so that the world may know it was the Father who sent him.
We cannot just accept near enough is good enough, or OK is the best we can manage.
This service and the time of friendship and fellowship afterwards is an opportunity to make friends out of acquaintances, and to find ways of working and praying together which make the Kingdom of God a reality here in our village.
Please will you come? If you are worried about time – the service will be about 45 minutes only. After that you can stay as long as you like.
A Week of Guided Prayer – who’s it for? Everyone!
And someone who’s been there said, “I think I expected something more ‘holy’! As it was, I was able to be me and think and pray about life as I’m experiencing it now…….“
Want to hear more?
The week starts on Sunday, 9th February 2020, in the afternoon, at St Joan of Arc, Farnham, GU9 8DJ. Further details are in the booking forms at the back of the church, or drop an email to email@example.com
Closing date for applications will be on 6th January 2020, but no one will be turned away, including those who are housebound, Please tell us if this applies to you or someone you know.
Rev Roy Woodhams will be made an Honorary Canon of Guildford Cathedral on 26th January at 6pm. This is a great personal honour for him and also for his community. We send our friendly congratulations to him and to Kate for being married now to one of the big guns of the church!
300 Club Applications will close on 26th January 2020
So far we have received only 43 entries which will limit the prizes to one a month [previously 3 a month]. Applications forms are still available in the porches and can be returned via the collection basket or left at the Parish Office.
Over the years, the 300 club has been here to help raise funds for the church. Over the past 10 years, over £11,000 has been raised. The draws start in January with a New Year draw and end in December with a Christmas draw, with 12 monthly draws during the year.
Entry forms are available at the back of each church in the parish and should be returned no later than 19 January 2020 to be included in all the draws for the year. Return entries by putting them in an envelope in the collection at a Sunday mass or direct to the parish office in Cranleigh.
In the current year, there are 104 entries, each one costing £12. After taking away the prize money this had left £468 as a contribution to the church’s funds. In 2019, we used these funds to buy a new set of vestments for Fr David. Let’s see if we can make 2020 a bumper year and raise over £1000 for the church. Good luck!
The next Coffee Morning will take place on Tuesday 14th January from 10am in the Cranleigh Parish Meeting Room. This is open to all member of our community and you are welcome to bring a friend or suggest it to someone who may benefit from meeting with this friendly group.
Justice & Peace Assembly: ‘Still No Room at the Inn?” How can we respond to the homelessness crisis today? Sat. 25th January, at the St Philip Howard Centre, Crawley (DABCEC). Doors open 9.30 am. Free event. Introduced by Bishop Richard, with Speakers from Turning Tides, Homelink, Crawley Open House, Life Housing, Caritas Portsmouth, and more. Stalls and stands.
Drinks provided – bring own cup/mug. Limited parking. Bookings at Rosie.Read@abdiocese.org.uk
Evening Prayer for Divorced, Remarried & Separated: Sun. 23rd February, at 3 pm: All those in our parish communities who may be divorced, remarried or simply separated, are warmly invited to come together with Bishop Richard at St. John the Evangelist Church in Horsham for afternoon tea, conversation and the celebration of Evening Prayer, which will conclude the afternoon. It would be useful to know approximate numbers simply to allow us to cater appropriately. If you be kind enough to send through the name(s) of those who are coming along, that would be useful. You can send the information to Katherine.Bergin@abdiocese.org.uk Thank you.
Worth Abbey: Silent Retreat: 13th-16th January 2020 (Mon-Thurs) £265 per person (Concession/unwaged £225)
Take some time out post-Christmas and join, for a short while, the rhythm of prayer and reflection with the monastic community at Worth Abbey. Enjoy time and space to be still, refresh your spirit and explore your relationship with God in beautiful and peaceful surroundings.
For further information, to request a booking form or to reserve your place, please contact us: Tel: 01342 710318 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 2020 Calendar of Retreats at www.worth.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Retreat-Programme-2020-leaflet.pdf
Fully escorted Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine, Ireland, celebrating the feast of St. Patrick. 16th March 2020. £599.00 per person sharing. Price includes flight with 10kg hand luggage, all transfers, 4 nights’ in Knock House Hotel with breakfast and dinner. All entertainment and excursions included. Lunches on days out. Wheelchair accessible rooms. Single room supplement £100. Contact Patricia on 01268 762 278 or 07740 175557 or email email@example.com. Knock Pilgrimages is a member of the Travel Trust Association and is fully protected by ATOL T7613.
We are all invited to Ecumenical Evening Prayer at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh on Monday 2nd March, 8pm. Arundel & Brighton Diocese. Justice and Peace Assembly 2020. Saturday 25th January 10am-4pm. St Philip Howard Centre, Crawley, RH10 6RP
How can we respond to the homelessness crisis facing our society?
There are an estimated 4,000 people sleeping rough on British streets every night. Homelessness among vulnerable groups has risen by 75%, with 1 in 200 people without a home or living in temporary accommodation (Shelter 2019). Hear from speakers working on the frontline of the homelessness crisis as this complex issue is explored.
Bishop Richard will launch Caritas Arundel and Brighton, the Diocesan Social Action arm of the Caritas Social Action network (CSAN) during this event. Tickets are free / Registration & refreshments: 9.30am. For further information or to book: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 01293 651161 Registered Charity no. 252878
Looking forward to Lent
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday the 26th of February.
COMING SOON – 2020 LENT COURSE: Our Lent Discussion Course this year will again be run jointly with the other churches in the Village. We are proposing to use a book called ‘This? How Christians Respond to Climate Change’ by Susan Sayers. As last year, there will be an opportunity to attend the course on either a Thursday Evening or a Friday afternoon, or to interchange. There will be 6 sessions starting on 27th/28th February and running through to the week before Holy Week.
We shall be hosting the sessions on a Friday afternoon from 2pm in our Parish Room at Cranleigh, but there will also be sessions held at Cranleigh Methodist Church on Thursday evenings.
The course begins on the Thursday and Friday immediately after Ash Wednesday and runs through up to the Thursday and Friday before Palm Sunday. Please do make a note in your diaries.