Courage

Courage is something you hope you have but don’t really know until the moment arrives. The horrific gun attack on thousands of people at the Route 61 Harvest Music Festival in Vegas senselessly took 59 lives injuring over 500 more. One of the injured was a man named William King who bravely lay on top of his wife Kimberley to protect her as bullets rained in on the crowd, taking a bullet to his back centimetres from taking his life. Such courage deserves to be remembered with the name of the killer forgotten forever.

The Battle of Passchendaele ended on the 6th November one hundred years ago. In his War Memoirs published in 1938, Prime Minister David Lloyd George wrote: "Passchendaele was indeed one of the greatest disasters of the war ... no soldier of any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign”. Around 500,000 men on all sides lost their lives with the greater number being British. A senseless part of the war perhaps, but so many brave men lost their lives following commands and fighting for our freedom. Swamped by the mud that literally swallowed up many of them, they fought for little, but they achieved so much for us. We remember them at this time.

The Welsh poet known as Hedd Wyn died on the very first day of the battle of Passchendaele, he wrote this poem;

Alas, this is an age so mean
That everyman is made a Lord,
For all authority's absurd
When God himself fades from the scene.

As quick as God is shown the door
Out come the cannons and the sword:
Hate on hate on brother poured
And scored the deepest on the poor.

The harps that once could help our pain
Hang silent, to the willows pinned.
The cry of battle fills the wind
And blood of lads - it falls like rain.

History records such senseless moments but to this we so often return. Years of peace can quickly be replaced by the folly of human stupidity, as we repeat the same mistakes once again ‘when God himself fades from the scene’ as Wyn describes it. The Christian faith reminds us why, because sin lives in us. The same sin that causes us to do the very thing we shouldn’t, the very thing that can destroy that most precious to us. That sin lives in us, just as it did it still does, and there remains only one answer as the Christian faith teaches: Jesus gave His life for ours. He died that our sin might be forgiven by God and our lives changed forever. Why not come and remember at St. Mary’s this coming Remembrance Sunday 10.45am. (12th November).

Alan Comfort, Rector

Thanks to God!

This morning I awoke full of thanks to God. I’m not sure why today and not every morning, but today I looked up towards God and not down to all my struggles. King David describes such a moment in Psalm 145 v3; ‘Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.’ Taking a moment to look up as I put it, or to notice everything around you is life giving. Everything around us is a gift, isn’t it? Not ours because we deserve it and not ours because we have made and control it, but a gift. Extraordinary advances in technology falsely convince us now that the world revolves around us, but life is still out of our hands. Surely this is the lesson of hurricane Irmer, or the bomb damage on a London Underground train recently? Life is as fragile as it ever was, but I believe one constancy exists: God. Not everyone agrees with this conclusion, but a God-framed view of the world makes sense to me.
Noticing and celebrating are vital parts of our lives and we as churches need little excuse to do so. As a benefice, we recently celebrated the re-opening of St. Mary’s Church with an amazing service of praise and thanksgiving to God. On Saturday 4th November from 8.30-10am, 'St. Mary’s at the School', in partnership with Roger de Clare School, are welcoming former professional footballer Linvoy Primus MBE to speak at a family breakfast. Why not come and hear Linvoy speak of his recent football career, as well as his faith in God and how it helps him. (For catering purposes, please let us know if you're coming, how many adults and children and how many require the vegetarian option, by emailing Marion Smith on benefice.administrator@ubsms.org..uk).
Perhaps this is the question that constantly needs answering; does having a faith in God really help us? Why not come and decide for yourself?

One last thing, as we thank God for all we see around us, we also remember those we miss and see no longer. They are in our thoughts every day but sometimes it’s helpful to come together to remember them. Our special ‘Service of Memories’ is at 3pm on Sunday 5th November at St. Mary’s. Be assured of a special welcome as we remember our loved ones, no matter how recent or distant this loss is. If you would like us to read out the name of your loved one, please email Marion on benefice.administrator@ubsms.org.uk

Alan Comfort, Rector

You are invited!

We as a church family are full of excitement as preparations gather pace for the re-opening of St. Mary’s church on Sunday 10th September. The church being closed for nearly four months has challenged what we unknowingly take for granted; that someone unlocks the church doors every morning and countless jobs are lovingly carried out by too many people to mention. But moving to Roger de Clare School for our Sunday worship has confirmed what we knew to be true, that St. Mary’s is at heart an amazing group of people loving God, who happen to meet in a very special Grade 1 Listed church building. Jill and I certainly experienced this recently, when Jill suffered a frightening infection in her face through an initial tooth abscess. The terrible pain and visits to Guy’s Hospital were met by countless meals left at the doorstep, overwhelming offers of help, and continuous prayer! Thank you. (Ollie and I loved the food)

Of course buildings do hold a special place in our hearts, but people hold our dearest memories. The re-opening of St. Mary’s and the unveiling of several wonderful background improvements, cannot compare with the personal memory of my father who died in September two years ago, or little Charlie Gard who tragically died of a genetic disorder after just eleven months of life, but our wonderful church building will continue to play host to many more of ‘our’ memories in the future.

At 10.45am on 10th September a special celebration service will take place at St. Mary’s. Why not come? We can announce the return of our much loved former Vicar Revd. John Pelley and his wife Audrey who will be taking part in the service. Although Revd. David Payne and his wife Jo are unable to be with us due to current parish commitments; we will be honouring David who spearheaded the PCC that first dreamed up this project. We hope a full church will experience the best of St. Mary’s; glorious worship of God and a glass of fizzy to mark the next step in our desire to show and share Jesus to all who live near or come to visit us.

Alan Comfort, Rector

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