Re-opening for Worship

It is with great joy that we are able to re-open St Peter's Church at Brooke for public worship this week.  There will be a Benefice service of Morning Worship on Sunday 12th July at 10.30am.  We hope that this will be the pattern for the next few weeks.

So that everyone can make a choice about whether they wish to attend church or not, we will continue to offer our worship on Zoom at 10.30am as well.  Through a generous gift it should be possible for this to include those in the chuch, so that we continue to worship as one community.

Due to social distancing those who wish to come to the church will need to book a place.  There are full details of the arrangements in the "Re-opening our churches" section of the web-site.  Those who wish to join on Zoom will find the link on the "What's on" page, or in the weekly benefice e-mail.

This is a first tentative step towards returning to worshipping together in body as well as spirit.  It will not be as we have known it in the past, but it is an opportunity for those who wish to worship in the church building to be able to do so once more.

St Peter's Church at Brooke is also open for private prayer on Sundays (12pm-4pm) and Wednesdays (10am-4pm).

 

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Thoughts on St Peter

One of the things I have missed over the past 12+ weeks has been walking up the Church Path in Brooke and looking up to see the statue of St Peter above the porch entrance before entering the church.

 Why? Peter was an ordinary fisherman – skilled at his work no doubt and not particularly well educated. He became a trusted and liked follower of Jesus, but he was not perfect – so there is hope for us all.  And thinking of this as I pass the porch gives me a feeling of confidence- confidence that we do our best in whatever God has set us to do and sometimes we will fall short – but God will still love us.

Peter of course was commissioned by Jesus with the rest of the disciples “to make disciples of all nations”.  He was successful in this traveling around spreading the ‘good news’ finally ending up in Rome.  Here Emperor Nero was persecuting Christians and Peter’s fellow Christians implored him to leave Rome to spare his life.  He did not run away and was put in prison where he converted his gaolers Processus and Martinian.  He was taken from the prison and crucified, head downwards at his own request for he declared himself unworthy to suffer the same fate as his Lord.

It is not surprising that so many Churches are dedicated to St Peter, the disciple who carried out Jesus’ teaching to the letter (and to death) and a saint to be an example to us all.  So taking two extreme examples Brooke and St Peters Basilica in Rome.  On the face of it they may not have any similarities – but of course they have.  St Peter’s in Rome may be more lavishly decorated (and have more gold) but both places provide a meeting place for Christians to praise God, to pray and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, and have done that for many hundreds of years.

I sometimes think that St Peter would feel more at home in our Church, his coming from a village and a working family background, but who knows, he may prefer the enormous crowds in Rome to be able to carry out Jesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations.  When I was in St Peters in Rome there were certainly hundreds of people from all nationalities.

Over the last 12 weeks my days have comprised gardening, doing odd jobs that I had been putting off (for years) and a bit of painting as the Thursday art group cannot meet.    The challenge I set myself this week was to paint an icon – a painting of a saint on wood.  My effort of St Peter is below – nothing like the icons I have seen in Russian Orthodox Churches – but I enjoyed doing it!!

 

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Conserving for all

Our churchyards offer almost unique environments for the natural world.  They have been largely untouched for centuries, certainly not dug over or planted, and they are havens for wildflowers and wildlife.  

The Benefice has been trying to consciously conserve these areas over the last few years.  Sadly a planned conservation survey across our churchyards has had to be postponed, but we hope that it will happen in due course.  None-the-less work has continued to manage the churchyards so that people can visit graves - and at the moment so that we can hold funerals in them - but also to make them as natural as possible.

In Brooke the "WIldlife Friends" are a group who began to meet in the autumn of 2019.  Whilst sharing their interest in the natural world - and a cup of tea - they have also made practical steps to clearly mark out conservation areas and to provide sanctuary for wildlife.  They have also worked hard to ensure that those who visit the churchyard at St Peter's are able to spot for themselves all that is there. This has mainly happened at present through a noticeboard near the entry.

Work has been going on even in lock-down and the noticeboard has been updated to reflect the wildlife features of this early summer time.  A corrogated iron sheet has been placed in a suitable spot  in the hope that it will encourage amphibians, and an upturned dustbin lid has also been installed to offer water to our feathered friends.

Do make the most of the encouragement that we are receiving to be outside at this time and visit one of our churchyards.

 

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Thy Kingdom Come

Dear Friends,

As we enter the period of time between the Ascension and Pentecost, we are invited to join with our Christian brothers and sisters in the "Thy Kingdom Come" project.  This was started by our Archbishops a few years ago and challenges us, in these nine days, to pray for God's kingdom to come in a focussed and intentional way. 

You could do this...
by praying the Lord's Prayer slowly each day, taking time to consider what it is that we are praying for in this prayer.
by exploring and using the many on-line materials available, including prayer lists, reflections and virtual resources.

or

by taking up our Bishop's invitation to join him each evening at 9pm to say Compline together.
You will find the Order of Service and Zoom codes for this here:  Compline Information

It would be lovely to think that at least one person from our Benefice joined in with this each evening.  Compline is a wonderful service which draws the day to a close and invites reflective and gentle prayer.  Being together, albeit virtually, with our Bishop and many others from across the Diocese will also give us a sense that we are part of something so much bigger than our small local congregation.

I hope that we can each find a way in the coming days to bring ourselves back to our relationship with God, at the centre of all we are and do, and to pray for God's kingdom to come.

With my prayers,
Lynn

 

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This is Christian Aid Week

This is Christian Aid Week.

Like so many other things this annual fundraising appeal has had to change its way of working.  This year there will be no door to door envelope collection and there won't be big breakfasts or Christian Aid coffee mornings.  It's not all "off", however, instead Christian Aid have thought up new ways for us to pray and donate so that their work can go on.

In spite of a year of planning, just weeks into the current crisis, Christian Aid changed the focus of their appeal for 2020 to combatting the dangers of coronavirus in the developing world.  Everything raised this week will go to help communities without running water, those in need of the basics, like soap and hand sanitizer and those who are living in cramped conditions - especially those who are already refugees as a result of war and injustice.

There are two things that we can do this week to join in with this effort.

Firstly, we can add our prayers to those of countless others, for our brothers and sisters who need our love and support,  across the globe and for those who work for Christian Aid (many of whom in this country have been fuloughed) and in their projects.  You can find resources to stimulate your prayers through this link: Prayers for Christian Aid Week

Secondly, we can make a donation to Christian Aid.  There are many ways to do this which are explained on the Christian Aid web-site.  We have created our own Benefice "e-envelope" which will help us as a Benefice to know how much we have raised.  We set the target at £500, which was the highest it would go, but we usually raise about £1000 across the Benefice, so let's see if we can exceed that £500.  You can find our "e-envelope" here: E-Envelope

Our service on Sunday morning (10.30am - more details on the web-site later this week) will have a Christian Aid theme as we pray together for the work of this wonderful organisation.

 

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Close to Nature

In these weeks when some of us have not left home at all, many people have watched the seasons change in their gardens, or out for their daily exercise.  When I began updating our web-site on a regular basis, at the beginning of this pandemic, the daffodils were just in bloom.  Now only their leaves remain and they have been replaced by unfurling leaves on the trees in brillaint green, the bursting of blossom and the appearance of miriad flowers in garden and hedgerow.

Our Benefice Organist, Brian Orland, has been paying very close attention to these stirings of nature and shares with us his photographs of nature "up close".  These were taken in the churchyard at St Peter's, Brooke on one of his daily walks and show us just how important it is to pay attention to detail.  You can see all his photographs in a new album in the gallery, here on the web-site: Close to Nature.

These detailed pictures of such small things that we may walk past in our usual busy lives, remind us of what we miss when we don't take the opportunity to pause.  They remind us too of the attention to detail that our Creator God takes.  If so much care is taken over the formation of each leaf and flower - surely it is taken over us too.  Perhaps in the spaces that our current situation is providing for so many of us, we can sit still, open our hearts to God and allow our Creator to bring us to full bloom.

 

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The Brooke Benefice launches on Zoom

After some weeks of experimenting and the success of our weekly virtual coffee mornings it was decided that the time has come to try out worshipping together on Zoom.  So, we will continue to gather in our homes this week, but those with internet access, who choose to do so, will be able to join up by video link, for a greater sense of being together.

The gathering will begin at 10.15am to allow everyone to "arrive" and our worship will start at 10.30am.  There is an Order of Service for this service in the resources section of the web-site.  Our organist has kindly recorded the music for our worship, so we're all set to give it a go.

For those who wish to continue to worship at home by less technical means, the weekly sheet of resources is again available, with ideas for reflection and for prayers linked to the Gospel reading of the day.

Whilst we continue to keep our distance from each other in body, we draw near in thought and prayer as we continue our weekly worship together.

 

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Our Reader Writes.....

Dear Friends,

 

The last few months have been difficult for many people here in Britain and across the world.   We have experienced the wettest February for years, bringing floods to many parts of Wales and England with families having to evacuate their home and many of their treasured possessions lost.  There have also been floods in other parts of the world, where individuals and governments do not have the help and infrastructure to be able to respond effectively.  This came soon after the terrible fires in Australia and America.  And then, if that was not enough, we (as I write)  have the worry of Coronavirus, how widespread will it be, must we cancel holidays etc.  It  seems as if the floods and pestilence we read about in the Old Testament are revisiting us.  However, I do not think that is the case.  The scientific advice is that the floods, fires and viruses are partly our own making.  Climate change, due to the ‘misuse’ of our planet and its resources, is now having a devasting effect on peoples’ lives as are these new strains of viruses.

So, in short, we are living in very uncertain times.  How do we deal with what is happening around us, how will it get worse (or better) in the future, what can we do?  I am sure many of us feel at a loss and perhaps rather afraid.

 

If we step back 2000 years, the disciples and Jesus’ close friends must have had similar feelings.  What was happening? Jesus had been tried on untrue charges and then crucified on the cross on Good Friday.  What would happen to them? What did the future hold?  It was a very uncertain time, but they stuck together – the disciples and Jesus’ mother and a few other close friends.  There was obviously a feeling of security and companionship in being together and sharing the difficult time they were experiencing – there was not much very good about that Good Friday.  But it all changed on that first Easter Day with Jesus’ resurrection and we read in Matthews Gospel that he appeared to them and told them that “I am with you always, to the end of the age”.  All was not lost and there was a much brighter future than they had feared.

In our difficult and uncertain times, we can stick together and support each other, doing what we can for each other and the world. Remembering always that Jesus is our Saviour and is with us always to the end of the age.

 

I would like to finish this letter on a personal note.  I have been through very uncertain times over the past six months dealing with my cancer.  I would like to thank you all for your goodwill messages and prayers.  They meant an awful lot to me and really did help during the difficult periods of chemotherapy and post operation.

 

May God bless and keep you and may you have a very Happy Easter,

 

John

 

John Ash

Lay Reader

 

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Alleluia! He is Risen!

We have reached Easter Day!  Let's all hope and pray that the light and hope of the Easter story can find its way into our world in the coming days.

I felt like I should send some Easter Message, but everyone else seems to do it so much better than me.  There are loads of things on line, but the link here will take you to the thoughts and words of the Bishop of Norwich, which I hope will provoke your thoughts in the coming days.

Bishop of Norwich : Easter Message

May you be blessed richly with the hope and light of this Easter Season,

Lynn

 

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Do this in remembrance of me

One of the things that we usually do on Maundy Thursday is to remember Jesus' last supper with his disciples and the new meaning he gave to the bread and wine as he asked them to remember him every time they shared it together in the future.  For the last few years we have met in Mundham church to join together in the Lord's Supper and to share just as Jesus asked his disciples to do.  Sadly this year that won't be possible as social distancing means that we cannot all be in the same place and we certainly can't share one cup.

Whilst even a few weeks ago we wouldn't have imagined a time when we couldn't take Communion, the Church of England in the Book of Common Prayer has long recognised that there may be occasions when people would not be able to receive the bread and wine in reality.  Instead it has been suggested that people receive "Spiritual Communion", acknowledging that Jesus comes to us spiritually as well as in the elements that we share, and that those who cannot receive the actual bread and wine need not be cut off from fellowship with the church - or relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  You can find lots of information (and some theological debate) about this online at the moment.  A short explanation from the Church of England is available here: Spiritual Communion

For many people Easter Day is one of the most important times of the year for them to receive Holy Communion.  Although there will be no services in church on Easter Day this year the bishops have given clergy permission to hold a service of Holy Communion in their own home on behalf of their congregation.  Having "fasted" from Communion since the suspension of public worship, I will, with great joy, be celebrating Holy Communion at the Vicarage on Sunday at 10.30am, for us all.  So that you can join in if you wish to, I have put the order of service, including a prayer for you to use at the point of sharing Communion, in the resources section of the web-site.  It will be good to know that some of you are joining me in what will be an extra special act of worship for Easter this year.

I join you in looking forward to the time when we can all once more gather around the altar and share together as Jesus asked his disciples to do.

 

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Journey Through Holy Week

We stand on the threshold of Holy Week 2020.  A Holy Week that will be very different from that we planned for a few weeks ago, and also very different from any Holy Week that has taken place to date.

Much creativity has been happening across the world to ensure that as the Church we are able to journey together through our remembrance of all that led up to Jesus death; before we celebrate his resurrection next weekend.  There are an abundance of downloads, podcasts, live streams and other resources available through the miracle of communication the internet is proving to be.  There are also lots of ideas of things for people to do in their own home, but together.

Whilst our regular daily "Prayer during the day" will continue all week, there will also be other times for us to know that we are worshipping together.  These will include:

10am on Sunday morning when we will remember the events of Palm Sunday. 

8.30pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday when Compline will be said. 

7pm on Thursday when we remember the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest. 

2pm on Friday when we will take an hour to reflect on the story of Jesus' death on the cross.

9pm on Saturday when we carry the new fire of light into our homes as our celebration of Easter begins to dawn.

There are resources for all these events and more in this week's resources booklet, available on the resources section of this web-site.

 

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Closed....but very much alive!

Tuesday morning saw the closure of all our church buildings for the time being.  It is sad that those who find solace and peace in our ancient churches will be unable to do so for a while, but we must take all precautions to keep people safe as the Coronavirus continues apace.  Hopefully the weather will remain clement and, as part of their daily exercise, people can walk through our churchyards and enjoy the beautiful primrose carpets and the bird chorus from the trees and hedges.  Please remember in your prayers those who are temporarily deprived of their well-loved special places and remember too to give thanks for the beauty of creation which surrounds us.

Our buildings may be closed, but the church in the benefice continues to thrive. Many people have been in touch to say that they joined in with last Sunday's worship on the radio and some also found the Sunday Worship Resources helpful too.  These will appear each week, by e-mail to those on the mailing list, and also on this web-site.  I know that some people placed a lighted candle in their window on Sunday evening as all churches in this country came to the end of a day of "Prayer and Action" and that others joined in today with the 11 o'clock Lord's Prayer.  These acts of united prayer help us to remember that we are part of a wider church, which is active across the world.

On Wednesday we launched our "Telephone Tree" which will see twenty-one households linked by phone calls on five out of the seven days of the week.  It is still possible to join in with this project either by volunteering to phone someone, or as someone who would appreciate the opportunity to chat.  To take part please phone or e-mail the Vicar (01508 558479  chapman.lynn@btinternet.com)  Lots of other help is going on as people share shopping deliveries, pick up essentials and prescriptions and generally look out for one another.

As this new pattern of isolated living becomes more familiar, I encourage you to continue to actively strive to be the Church in our villages.  Please keep praying - it really can move mountains and doing it together, sharing the load, has been proved time and again to be beneficial.  Please keep safe and follow the guidelines that we have been given, so that you don't put yourself - or other people - at risk.  Do offer help, where you can (remember staying at home is a way to help our NHS and other people) but don't be afraid to ask for help yourselves.  We will all do our best to ensure that no-one is alone or in need in our community.

 

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Suspension of Public Worship

Following advice from the Archbishops all public worship in our churches will be suspended until further notice.

Arrangements are being made to make it possible for us to continue the work of prayer which lies at the heart of our faith and further details will be posted in the coming days.

The Archbishops are encouraging us to consider how to "do church differently" in the coming days and weeks and emphasise the importance of our roll as "bearers of hope" to our communities.

Plans are being put into place in our villages to ensure that people are cared for and helped in this period and it will be important that we support these efforts in any way that we can - whilst maintaining proportionate concern for our own well-being.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Vicar (Lynn 01508 558749, chapman.lynn@btinternet.com) if you have questions or need help of any kind.

I'm sure that we will all be keeing all those with the virus, those who care for them and those who are making important decisions in our prayers.

 

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Vicar's letter February / March 2020

Although church-going plays little part in most people’s lives these days, many people continue the tradition of  “giving up” something for Lent.  These acts of self-denial often include going without chocolate or alcohol and some people give the money that they would have spent on these things to charity, remembering those who are in need of help or support, in this country or abroad.  There is something to be said for the feeling of success when we manage to keep up the discipline for the full forty days before Easter.

Somehow, in the midst of this tradition, the original intention has been lost for many people.  When the custom began, the act of “going without” was to create a greater awareness of the need for God and to make extra time to spend in prayer and study.  It was not intended to be an act of self-discipline but a time of deepening spirituality and faith. 

In an attempt to return to this intention many Christians now choose to focus their attention during Lent on God’s love and to take action to make this a reality in the world.  The forty days, for them, are filled with attempts to help other people to feel valued and significant.  Some people choose to carry out forty “random acts of kindness”, which can take their recipients by surprise, whilst others take time to catch up with friends or neighbours they haven’t seen in a while, either in person, by letter or on the phone.  For some their Lenten discipline takes the form of being positive about one thing each day, or ensuring that they spend time with family members during the week  -  no “devices” allowed.  Some people do something to love our planet and turn their hand to recycling, reducing their carbon footprint or conserving our wildlife.  There are those who have found their Lenten project to be so life-giving that they keep it up all year!

Sometimes it is good for us to mark out a period of time when we live a bit differently to the rest of the year.  Lent begins on 26th February this year  -  perhaps there is something you could do for forty days (until Easter Day on 12th April) that will make your world, or someone else’s, just a bit brighter and more loving.  You may even find that it begins a whole new way of life……

 

With every blessing,

Lynn

 

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