For the first time in over 2000 years public worship throughout the country has been suspended and we are also denied the opportunity to use our churches for personal prayer. In short – all churches are now closed.
Although we are living in uncertain times it is important that the Church is seen to be a beacon of hope, and with God’s help we will come through this terrible time a stronger and more compassionate people.
Easter and St. George’s Day are not far off and in common with a number of other churches in England, S. Mary’s will raise the St. George’s flag two weeks early on Lent 5 (29th March); thus signalling to the people of the parish that they are not forgotten and that the Church continues to be alive and active.
A full programme of Easter worship will again be held at St Mary’s this year, with details on our Worship Calendar page.
Once again we will be celebrating the First Mass of Easter. This is a Vigil Mass held after nightfall on Holy Saturday, or sometimes before dawn on Easter Sunday. This dramatic and inspiring service, with its imagery of light emerging from darkness, was in abeyance in the parish for a number of years before being revived at St Mary’s three years ago. So we are once again united with Christian churches across the world in proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. At St Mary’s we do this as night falls on Holy Saturday.
During the Gloria at the Mass, the organ and church bells are used in the liturgy for the first time in two days. A blaze of light fills the church as the lights are restored, accompanied by the exultant ringing of bells. The Paschal candle is used to bless the baptismal font before it is used in the celebration of the sacrament. The Great Alleluia is sung before the Gospel is read, Alleluia being used for the first time since before Lent.
Our Easter Vigil Mass will be held on Holy Saturday, 11th April and we will be gathering around the brazier in the front churchyard at 7.30pm. This year we are going to be joined by some of the congregation from St John’s Church, Crowborough, and we look forward to welcoming them to Buxted.
Moving the focus a few yards to the left across the car park, developments in the use of the Church Hall continue to be encouraging. The group for people with dementia and their carers is meeting regularly on a Tuesday morning, and they are finding the venue more than suitable. We also have a weekday children’s dance class starting after Easter, run by Universal Dance. A free taster session is on offer (see their advert elsewhere in this edition for details).
We are also looking at how the improve the hall garden area. The storage hut and sandpit have now gone, which leaves a space which could be developed as an outside seating area. The first task though is to re-seed the lawn, which will be done after the Open Day & Craft Fair in May. More about that next month.
It’s a quiet time at St. Mark’s church between the Epiphany service and the Easter season, so a good moment to stand back and ask what you, the people of Hadlow Down, really would like from St. Mark’s church, both spiritually and physically.
The church is bursting at the seams at the Crib service and at the school termly services, in term-time it’s alive with the weekly school Family and Friends assembly, and the church is often our focus in time of need, and for remembrance and celebration. The building is valued for regular community activities such as cubs and the craft group, and for well-supported occasional community events.
But for most of the week our lovely building stands unused. We reflect on its history and the villagers it has supported over the years, but now its regular Sunday worshipping congregation is small. What could encourage you to join the Sunday worship, if only occasionally? A different time? A different form of service? Something else?
And the business of keeping the church and churchyard running and in good repair falls on just a handful of people – many of them actually Buxted residents! So, Hadlow Downers, can you spare a little time to help?
Have any of you got any suggestions? Please email us or talk to us, and tell us what we can do to improve attendance and use of the building. We will listen to any suggestions, and do our best to use them. We hope to have a new Rector before too long, and your suggestions will be of great value to him too. Please contact us, the St. Marks deputy churchwardens, at firstname.lastname@example.org (Janet Tourell, Anne Yarrow, Keith Edwards, Nicola Neal, Valerie Banks)
A special service this month: The middle of Lent is marked by Mothering Sunday on March 22nd, with an All Ages (non-Communion) service at 9.00am. Children will receive flowers to give to their mothers, but this is by no means a service just for childen – all of us have or had mothers to remember and be thankful for!
Dates for your diary (in St. Mark’s Church unless otherwise stated):
Thursdays in Lent Lent discussion group, 8.00pm St. Mary’s hall.
Wednesday 11 March PCC meeting, 7.30 pm St. Mary’s church hall
Mothering Sunday 22 March Mothering Sunday All Ages Service, 9.00 am
Wednesday 8 April Annual Parochial Church Meeting and refreshments,
St. Mary’s 7.30pm
Maundy Thursday 9 April Last Supper service and vigil, 7.30pm
Good Friday 10 April Children’s Easter activities, St. Mary’s hall, 10am- noon
Good Friday liturgy, St. Mary’s, 3.00pm
The Cross in Words and Music, St. Margaret’s, 6.00 pm
Easter Saturday 11 April Create Easter Garden, 10.00am
Easter Sunday 12 April Easter Festival Family Communion, 9.00am