How many of you can remember your Confirmation Classes?
I remember very little of mine.
I was about eleven, and a little group of us (mainly members of the St. Mary’s Walberton Church Choir) met up for five or six sessions or so sitting around the Vicar’s dining table in the Vicarage. I remember how shiny it was, with curved corners, (the table that is, not the Vicarage) but I recall little else of what we heard or learnt there. I do, though, remember how the Vicar (a lovely man whose funeral I – many years later – subsequently took) taught us how to pray.
It was using the acronym “ACTS” . The “A” stood for “Adoration”, thinking of the wonder of God. The “C” stood for “Confession”, reflecting on the ways we go off the rails and asking God for forgiveness; the “T” was for “Thanksgiving”, saying thank you to God for his love and generosity and lastly “S” was “Supplication”, a list of people, situations, hopes and fears to be offered up to God, to lift them into his Presence for renewal, transformation and new life. I followed this pattern of prayer for many years, as a child and young adult until as an ordinand looking towards priesthood I started using the daily Office – Morning and Evening Prayer from the Prayer Book – which I have used ever since.
We rarely, I think, have the opportunity to explore our daily prayer habits as we get older, which is why the Diocesan course Cay Towner has been leading on Ignatian Spirituality has been so useful (thank you Cay!). I’m hoping to build on this with a Quiet Day or two later in the year, as part of our participation in the diocesan “Year of Prayer”.
Which brings me back to Confirmation. We have six children looking towards the Confirmation at Holy Cross on the 10th June from the Plurality. The course has been much more fun than mine was, with games and activities as well as teaching. We’ve made Prayer bracelets and I’ve taught them – among other ways to pray – the same “ACTS” acronym that I used. Maybe in getting on for fifty years’ time it’ll be the only thing they remember from their Confirmation Course too!
Remember them in your prayers, also the candidates from the wider Deanery who will be confirmed too. And come and join in on the 10th June!
With Love, Fr. John
Late snow, early heat, this is what I call climate change! This year the temperature has been up and down like a yoyo. I have a flippant theory that Britain does not have a climate, just weather. However, one thing does not change from year to year, and that is the gradual increase of day-length from the winter equinox (c. December 21st) to that of the summer c. June 21st). We are rapidly heading for the latter. Sitting outside in the evening during the early May bank holiday weekend was great. However, the temperature has now dropped again. This seesawing of temperatures must be playing havoc with the insects as I am seeing very few here in Uckfield. This is going to be a problem for the insectivorous birds and bats who depend on large numbers of insects for survival. One striking absence is house martins, I have not seen one in Britain yet this year. These little anthropophilic birds feed on large amounts of insects, nest in the eaves of our houses and produce 2 or 3 broods per year usually. They winter in Africa and then follow the gradual appearance of insects as the wave of emergence proceeds north with the increasing day-length. The flight north from central Africa to Britain can take as long as 3 months. However, if the insects do not emerge, the birds will not move and may not be able to breed.
There has been much in the news recently about neonicotinoids, these are chemical insecticides that modern farmers are using to eliminate insects that affect crop productivity. These chemicals are systemic (are taken up by the plants) and persistent (they do not decay quickly). As field sizes get larger and more land is cultivated, the spread of these insecticides has been increasing, and they are not selective, they will kill all insects and probably other invertebrates as well. This includes the bees that pollinate our fruit crops. However, the EU voted to ban the use of these insecticides by the end of 2018 with the exemption of greenhouses. Also, these chemicals are on pet flee treatments, in stables and animal transport vehicles, which account for about a third of all their uses. These uses are set to continue. We can only hope that alternatives can be found before all our insects and the other animals and plants that depend on them, disappear completely.
Bishop Martin's Letter to Parishes in the Diocese of Chichester
There are two major Christian festivals in March. They celebrate people whose response to God was tentative, but consistent.
The first commemorates Joseph of Nazareth, the husband of Mary. The second festival celebrates Mary’s experience of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus.
Christians of earlier generations found benefit in presenting the story of Easter as the culmination of Christmas when Joseph and Mary were so prominent.
They did this through a cycle of mystery plays, the most famous of which are still performed in York, telling the Christian story from creation to judgement at the end of time. These plays were a bridge between ordinary daily life and the drama of heaven come to earth in the Church’s liturgical worship.
This year, an early Easter places Holy Week between the festivals of Joseph and of the annunciation. It is one of those periodic occurrences when dates and timing become symbolic.
Mary and Joseph are two ordinary people, from the same working town, who fall in love and get married. In the middle of all that something incredible happens, that transforms their lives. They become players in the divine drama of salvation.
Their festivals stand on either side of Holy Week and they, as it were, invite us to connect with that drama through our experience today of God’s call and God’s power.
In this Year of Prayer, my hope is that the drama of Holy Week will assume greater importance in your Christian life, and in your diary.
I hope that you, like Joseph and Mary, will allow the call of God to draw you into the drama of salvation: not as a spectator, but as a player, or agent, who will attract others to its reality, as you renew your commitment to know, love, follow Jesus.
A totally amazing six thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine visitors came to The Church of the Holy Cross to see Tenth year of the Festival of Christmas Trees, and it is doubtful whether anyone left disappointed, because there were an incredible ninety-eight decorated positions to be seen and admired. The Church welcomed visitors from as far afield as Yorkshire and Hampshire and a considerable number from across the country boundary with Kent. This Festival retains the traditional methods of tree decorating, but the Sponsors are very much encouraged to be creative and innovative, and this year they certainly excelled. One very special display was titled “Santa’s Workshop” which had been several months in development while another display was a tree that had been decorated to represent a full length dress. Photographs of the Trees featured in this year’s Festival can be viewed in the Church’s website Photo Gallery, which can be accessed via the main Menu Bar at the top of this page, or see the link below. The ninety-eight displays had been sponsored by a cross section of Uckfield’s community – schools, businesses, voluntary organisations and associations, community support groups as well as individuals and families. During Friday afternoon visitors were entertained by Margaret Watson,harpist,and John Pontefract a singer and guitarist. Children could have their face painted by Pretty Fantastic Faces on both the Friday and Saturday afternoons.