Letter from John Spiers, Associate Priest - December 2018

I think we all enjoy receiving a gift to unwrap at Christmas. I include myself in this respect. The greatest gift I am given each Christmas is that, at least once at one of the Christmas services, I have the amazing experience of listening to, or even reading, the first few verses of John’s Gospel.

They are as follows:

Firstly

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’

Then

‘And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.’

The Word is that tiny baby, Jesus. God made man. Jesus is the light for all people, for everyone.

Christmas is a time when all of creation paused, when heaven met earth. When a baby was born to a young girl in a stable. This is why we celebrate Christmas. God coming to earth in glory as a baby. The shepherds saw the glory of God in that baby, the wise men saw the glory in that same baby.

So we should try to celebrate Christmas with this in mind. Sometimes we may lose sight of the reason for the celebration, of the immense glory, of the light coming into the world. It does take a little effort to find Christian themed Christmas cards. Recently I heard the strap line for a PC World Currys advert ‘we have everything you need for Christmas.’

We should celebrate Christmas in a way that we are comfortable with. This may well exclude any thoughts of Jesus and the incredible gift of love that God gave us of his only Son, that tiny baby in a manger. I hope and pray that this is not so. We may go and help at a homeless shelter. We may have a great party with friends and family. We may spend the time quietly on our own.

But there are many opportunities to come and celebrate Christmas with your friends and neighbours in our churches. When Christmas comes up in conversation people sympathize with me saying it must be a busy time for a priest.

I agree that it is a busy time but I will start celebrating Christmas here in Amberley with the Advent carol service on Sunday 2nd December. I will continue with my celebrations until the 10:00 a.m. service at Amberley on Christmas Day, eight services later. Then I will pause, have a coffee and go for a walk with my wife before enjoying a quiet meal reflecting on the Word made flesh, of creation pausing and of the love that that tiny baby represents, a love that is here for everyone.

Quite a celebration!

John Spiers

Letter from Sandy Emery, Associate Priest - October 2018

Dear Friends
Autumn is one of my most favourite seasons with all the richness of colour around us. Pic- tures never seem to do it justice and artists try to get the autumnal colours right but there’s nothing better than viewing all them yourself. It can be an awesome experience what God has given us in creation.

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Letter from Sandy Emery, Associate Priest - July 2018

As the countryside flourishes I look around me in the profound silence and I give thanks to the Creator. How could I not? When after all we live in an area of outstanding natural beauty. How do we describe it? I have heard some say it is like heaven on earth. Others use the word ‘awesome’ which is a distressingly overused word nowadays, but it was for this that the word was intended. I think that for many people today an approach to the divine is made most easily through the natural world. I might like to think that being introduced to the person of Jesus would bring people to their knees, but experience suggests that, in our highly secularised culture, a walk on the hills or digging in a garden is, for many people, a surer guide to the geography of God. This is where Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words ring true for many people:

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Letter from Sandy Emery, Associate Priest

Sandy EmeryBy the time you read this letter I do hope that we will be having sunny days to enable us to enjoy our gardens and walking on the common. We have had a long cold snowy winter so it is wonderful to have better weather to look forward to so we can enjoy the surrounding countryside we are fortunate to have. 

When May arrives, I think of Minchinhamp-ton getting back to normal with the cows on the Common holding up the traffic as usual and amusing us as the Highlanders wander through the High Street displaying their fine horns! 

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Letter from Sandy, Associate Priest

I always get excited at this time of year when everything in God’s creation awakens from the harshness of winter and the dark evenings are getting shorter. We have the snowdrops, crocuses and now the daffodils are poking their heads up and in sheltered spots they are even flowering. The evenings are getting lighter and the birds in the garden are becoming more active especially on days when the sun shines. Doesn’t it just lift your spirits! And all of this is the glory of what God has given us in creation.

I reflect each day in thanksgiving and gratitude to God for giving me the eight years of ministry among all of you and for all that we have done together. I would not be able to serve you without your great encouragement, help and love.

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Letter from John Spiers, Associate Priest - November 2018

How did the average citizen of Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia view the looming clouds of war in 1938. Twenty years earlier the war to end all wars had been fought and won by the combined efforts of Britain, France, Russia and America. There were over twenty million military and civilian casualties.

At events in our churches this year some of us will commemorate the end of the carnage that was the war to end all wars. On Sunday 11th November some of us will gather around war memorials and remember the dead of the two major conflicts of the last century as well as those killed in Korea, The Falkland’s, Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.

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Letter from John Spiers, Associate Priest - September 2018

Then suddenly the weather changed. The country had baked in hot sunshine for weeks. With only a few days warning, on the last weekend in July, thunder rumbled, lightning flashed and the heavens opened. Little is constant in this world. We establish our patterns of living only to find them disturbed by events outside our control. The Sunday afternoon barbeque planned on the assumption of yet another sun-ny day was eaten under cover as water dripped from the gazebo.

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Letter from John Spiers, Associate Priest - June 2018

At the time I am writing this letter Holy Trinity Minchinhampton have just had a service of rededication. Then two days later there was a meeting at Holy Trinity Amberley to give the congregation the opportunity to review the pro-posed plans for a shop at the rear of the church.
When you read this article the congregation of Holy Trinity Minchinhampton will be exploring how to use what is now a beautiful warm flexible space for more than regular worship. I am unsure where the conversation concerning the shop at Holy Trinity Amberley will have got to but I hope and pray that it will have been conducted with respect for differing views.

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Letter from John Spiers, Associate Priest

These days it seems that joyous events can take a lot of preparation. Anyone who has had a part in organising a wedding can tell you that. A wedding in church or a wedding at a venue, they all seem to need a lot of preparation, although the Church of England wedding web site does give you tips on how to reduce the cost and make a wedding simpler

And preparation is what Christians have been doing since Ash Wednesday way back in February. For me, a priest in the Church of England, writing an article at the start of Lent that will be read around Eastertide seems odd. Surely we need to have spent six week of preparation during Lent before we can think about Easter let alone celebrate Easter. This may be a mind-set of some Christians. We must have observed a holy Lent before we have that brief outburst of immense joy that is Easter. Certainly observing Lent is important. Why? Recently two comments reminded me that this long time of reflection, meditation and self-denial is important.

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