By Editor, Dec 20 2017 08:00AM

The Church Times recently had a cartoon depicting people arguing about the colours of the candles in the Advent wreath. In St Martin’s ours are purple, symbolising our need for penitence, except for the fourth one which is pink, and symbolises a lightening of the mood in the now nearer anticipation of Jesus’ birth.

Another pattern is to have a purple candle this first week indicating the arrival of this solemn season of preparation as we anticipate both the birth of Jesus and His second coming as Judge of the world. We hear the solemn warning of the patriarchs and prophets as well as their note of hope.

In the second week the candle is red, because for many centuries the second Sunday in Advent has been Bible Sunday. Its emphasis has been on the Scriptures because the Collect and Epistle for this Sunday, from 1662 and long before, have made us focus on them as a special gift from God who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. We express our grateful recognition of this in many ways and especially in Ps 119 “Thy word is a lantern unto my path”. The red candle reminds us of the flame of that lantern.

The third Sunday in Advent is anciently known as Gaudete Sunday. Its message is that we should Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice. (Gaudete is the Latin word for Rejoice) Those who know the Book of Common Prayer well will know that after the Reformation the Church of England used this reading from Philippians 4 the next week, week 4! But halfway through the season in the older liturgy the mood is lightened and a pink candle is appropriate.

On the fourth Sunday of Advent the birth of Jesus is very near, and the focus is on Mary bearing God within her and soon to give birth. The candle this week is blue, traditionally Mary’s colour. In the seven days before Christmas the antiphons preceding the Magnificat all begin with “O”. The capital or great O can also reminds us of Mary at this time. Being “great with child” is how we usually referred to someone well on in their pregnancy, especially when nearing the time of their delivery. The antiphons from December 17th are referred to as the great O antiphons and we heard some of them at the Advent Carol Service on Sunday. The whole collection is O Wisdom, O Adonai, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Rising Sun, O King of the nations, and on December 23rd O Emmanuel. Readers will recognise them too from the great Advent hymn “O come, O come, Emmanuel”.

However you observe and celebrate this season may it bring you closer to our Saviour.

By Editor, Dec 19 2017 08:00AM

Nancy and Howard Bluett go to the USA quite often to see their children and grandchildren and Nancy’s American family. Their base is at their daughter’s house in Cumming Georgia some 25 miles north east of Atlanta. They join a thriving Episcopal congregation at the Church of the Holy Spirit, where they have always been made most welcome.

What a surprise Howard had when researching our more recent history and finding in the 1997 magazine of St Martins, that 20 years ago the then Rector of Holy Spirit Cumming, Revd. Dwight Ogier, changed places with St Martin’s Vicar Revd David Smethwick from May to June.

The Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit, Cumming, Georgia, started in 1974 as a holy “coincidence,” when a young woman, Jeanie Lipscomb, had a conversation with Dr. James F. Hopewell, a theology professor at Atlanta’s Candler School of Theology, part of Emory University. Jeanie said she would really like to have an Episcopal church in the Cumming area and Dr. Hopewell, an Episcopal priest, said he would be glad to help her start one. On Pentecost Day 1975, the church was established as a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The name “Holy Spirit” was chosen to emphasize the empowerment of ministry through the Spirit. Dr. Hopewell served as the founding vicar for five years and the Lipscomb family is still active in this parish.

The church is situated outside of the town with a wonderful view of the foothills of the North Georgia mountains through the clear east window. It seated 200 people at the time and had integral meeting rooms and an office etc. Now that church is the church hall. A new nave and sanctuary and more Sunday School and weekday pre-school rooms were added before we went there and that new nave and sanctuary held 500. Like most churches it is only full on major occasions but the regular congregation is over 100 and very welcoming. There are a few expatriates and one had a sister who worshipped in our old church the former Tewkesbury Abbey church. More co-incidence.

In the time we have been there the whole building has been further enlarged, almost doubled in size. Starting in January 2015 their “Building to Serve” campaign took off with the aim of creating this larger, more up-to-date space to accommodate the growing parish and expand the reach of their ministries in the surrounding community. The new building was dedicated in August last year.

In 1997 the clergy learned a lot from each other’s parishes and had the opportunity for sightseeing in the very different locations. One difference David noted was that in Cumming Anglicans are a small minority among many large Baptist and other congregations. That does give Sundays a different feel when most of your neighbours and many friends are going to a different church.

Revd. Dwight Ogier wrote from home in the July magazine expressing the hope that their visit might be the first step in other exchanges of ministry and program. Servers and lay Readers? Parish leaders and interested laity?

Well 20 years on chance produced a regular link through two interested laity. It’s a small world.

Howard Bluett.

By Editor, Dec 19 2017 08:00AM

Every year as a church we support a number of charities through our weekly giving as well as other fundraising activities. Here are a few letter's from some of the charities thanking you for your donations.

By Editor, Dec 2 2017 12:36PM

The new guide to our parish church wonders why the various saints depicted on our Reredos were chosen. So far no explanation has come forward. This month however we celebrate two of them. On 17 November we have the feast of St Hugh of Lincoln, and on 22 November St. Cecilia. St Hugh, with Little St Hugh and King David in is the last compartment on the right and St Cecilia on the first.

It will surprise many people that at the time of the Reformation St Hugh was the second best known saint after Thomas Beckett, slain in Canterbury cathedral. He was actually a Frenchman, from Avallon, and entered a Benedictine monastery aged fifteen. Later he became a Carthusian monk. He rose to high office in that Order and Henry II brought him to England to found the first Charterhouse, as Carthusian monasteries are known, at Witham in Somerset. Establishing this was part of Henry’s penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett.

Hugh was an exemplary bishop, refusing to be browbeaten by the king over appointments, a good administrator and outstanding in his pastoral care. Jews were not popular in these times and when a Christian boy was murdered in Lincoln Jews were blamed and many of the community were killed. The story of the boy’s murder is doubted but the Roman Catholic church made him a saint, Little St Hugh, which is why he is depicted with the martyrs’ palm as he kneels beside his bishop. The swan is the swan of Stow who attached himself to St Hugh and was his constant companion for many years.

St Cecilia has no certain history but has been venerated since the fourth century as a Christian martyr. Supposedly married against her will to a Roman nobleman, Valerian, she persuaded him not to consummate the marriage and convert to Christianity, which he did and was himself martyred for his faith. It was said that during the marriage ceremony she sat apart and while the musicians played was singing in her heart to God. She soon became the patron saint of musicians and many works have been composed about her or in her honour. Art works usually show her with an organ, as does ours, where she is also holding her martyr’s palm, or a viola. Since 1570 music festivals have been held around the world in her honour and she is regarded as symbolizing the central role of music in the liturgy.

By Editor, Oct 27 2017 09:00AM

31/3/22 to 11/09/17

This week we heard of the sad news that a former lay reader at St Martin's passed away, here is a brief biography kindly provided by his daughter, Allison Stokes.

He learnt his craft as assistant organist at St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen at the age of 16. After war service in the RAF he trained as a music teacher and choir master and was organist at various churches in Scotland and then at St Saviour's Hampstead, St Pancras Old Church and St Giles Camberwell before retiring to Epsom where he became a peripatetic organist throughout the area and, having been a Lay Reader in Edinburgh and London, served as a lay reader at St Martin's.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

UPDATE: Here are two photos kindly sent to us by his daughter:

By Editor, Oct 26 2017 09:29AM

After a generous response to the Harvest appeal WaterAid have sent us the following letter of thanks. The £190 donated is a significant amount, enough "to train a pump attendant to ensure technology works for many years to come".

By Editor, Oct 2 2017 11:55AM

As I write this month I feel a little guilty. August was a month dominated by GCSE and A level exam results in our household, even at one stage removed. Fortunately, everything went well – all my own work, you understand – and university and the sixth form beckon for Josh and Sian respectively. Meanwhile, Christopher, Judith, Janet and Linda, with others, have been working their socks off to bring St. Stephen's to the Village and the Village to St. Stephen's, with pleasantly noticeable results.

One of the most notable early events was the Pets’ Service, held on the green at the rear of the church. Hazel says it was both unusual and enjoyable, with participants including dogs, a hamster, a gerbil and, my favourite, a chicken. Until the grandchildren began keeping them I was unaware just what diverse and interesting characters chickens possess.

As you are no doubt aware - Judith and Linda are both very good at publicising everything - there are many new events taking place. One of these was the first ‘Walk, to Sunday Lunch’, this one to the King’s Head in Epsom. It was very gratifying to realize that actually no one was excluded from participating due to their inability to walk the route, Judith, and several others all volunteered to ferry those in need. Linda reported it as a very pleasant and enjoyable occasion. Another one I missed!

Now we look forward to this weekend’s ‘Open Days’, incorporating the annual Ride and Stride event and the history of both St. Stephen's and the Village. Over the years Janet has been brilliant at compiling and collating all the news and views of St. Stephen's and, of course, this involves much Village history too.

Several years ago, Hazel and Angela Clifford compiled an enormously successful book of Village history, a family heirloom for us, and hopefully a copy of this book will also form part of the display. I know Angela and Judith have been sorting and selecting additional material and, together with Janet’s wonderful St. Stephen’s History Books, it should be a truly interesting display, well worth a visit.

It just remains to say how very welcome all the new faces have been at recent services, it has been such a pleasure to share St. Stephen’s with others. The amount of effort and commitment that has been expended by Christopher and the team to achieve such a lovely outcome is much appreciated - I am trying to think of different ways to say – thank you!

Next, please note, I have given up looking ahead for sunny days, but we do have our Harvest Supper and Service to look forward to instead, on the 7th and 8th October, respectively. Last year was one of our most successful Supper evenings to date, mainly due to the wonderful choir, courtesy of Janet’s contacts, but also thanks to Linda’s delicious catering and, of course, your company! Janet will have all the details and will hopefully be our quizmaster too. Another event, together with our Harvest Service, not to be missed.

On behalf of us all here at St. Stephen's

Janie Grinstead

By Editor, Oct 2 2017 11:47AM

St. Stephen's visits St. Anthony's

Last Sunday, after morning service, we dispensed with refreshments at St. Stephens and instead all accepted the invitation of Christopher and Brian to coffee, cakes and a viewing of the garden they have been working on at St. Anthony’s.

It was a beautiful morning and just a short walk so off we all went, including Adrian and Chris, following Brian and Christopher to St. Anthony’s at the bottom of Rosebery Road. We were warmly greeted by Marie and several members of her staff, and also by Lidia who was visiting her son Stefano. The garden really is beautiful. Marie explained that Andrew from Chessington Garden Centre had designed it, with several lovely small paved areas, a gorgeous pond, and delightful extra touches such as re- cycled tyres used as frames for colourful plant displays. There is even an aviary with some interesting birds.

There are also several stands of elegant bamboo plants and the backdrop is the stunning, tall green wall that is the Downs. All in all the garden was well worth the visit on its own. However, we were ‘hosted’ so beautifully that we were probably in danger of outstaying our welcome!

Marie explained that although Andrew had designed the garden, the residents, with staff support, had implemented all the ideas, from choosing the plants to making the plant boxes. She said that Brian and Christopher are now in charge of the garden maintenance. Not only that, but they also dispensed delicious biscuits, cakes and coffee and Brian organised everyone for photoshoots!

During coffee time, Lidia spoke at length in praise of St. Anthony’s. She had much to say about the caring dedication of Marie and her team, one of whom has worked there for over seven years. Lidia spoke of the lovely atmosphere, lovely accommodation, and the range of activities offered through numerous clubs, and even the lovely food! It was obviously a very heartfelt and genuine opinion from a gentle, caring mother and one which the whole visit seemed to reinforce.

Marie told us that St. Anthony’s is thinking of holding an ‘Open garden’ event in the future, to raise money for The Kite Club. If this transpires, do take advantage and go to see for yourselves. St. Anthony’s is well worth a visit for lots of different reasons, and the garden is certainly one of them.

Thank you, Brian and Christopher, and Marie and all the residents and staff, for a very pleasant coffee morning.

On behalf of everyone here at St. Stephen's

Janie Grinstead


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