Easter in Buxted and Hadlow Down was, like the rest of the country, more about time at home with virtual prayer and worship. However the three churches used their churchyards to make simple statements about Easter. At St Mary’s the Calvary figures garden area were tidied up and shone in the sunshine. St Mark’s had a small Easter garden beside the church, with the stone rolled away from the tomb. St Margaret’s had the bare cross, made from last year’s Christmas tree, with the simple message attached.
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
At the beginning of a new calendar year, with the excesses and celebrations of Christmas and New Year behind us, we are prone to gaze somewhat forlornly at the fuller, more shapely, self reflected in the mirror. We resolve to get fit and back into shape.
And our resolution is all the more piqued by the offers to join gyms and fitness clubs for discount prices and great offers.
But the experience of many, indeed my own, is that in the gloomier darker days of winter, the temptation is to rest in comfort, by the fire and not to put on gym gear, run outside and get wet and cold.
However, many will speak well to the benefits of losing unnecessary weight, keeping fit and feeling good about engaging in exercise. And I suspect that they achieve this because they develop the habit of exercise, not as a reaction to a period of excess, but as a regular discipline in respect for themselves and their bodies.
So, as we embark on a new decade in early 2020, it is very much the same in respect of our spiritual selves. If we are a bit flabby in that respect, here are some pointers to consider (and none are too good to be true):
1. What you put into your body makes a difference: so it is with your mind, your heart and your soul. To be properly fed spiritually, we need to regularly pray, share in worship within our community and read the bible, God’s word to us. These are really good habits to get into.
2. I’m afraid this is also involves regular exercise. A runner who doesn’t train for a race might not finish or might come far down the field. So what we learn in church and read in the bible needs to be put into practice regularly. Like a tree planted where there is good soil and regular water, faith that is healthy should bear good fruit and we should be known for our goodness.
3. This all takes discipline. Just as with gym going or physical exercise, our spiritual habits can be tough to keep because they aren’t always flashy or easy. We won’t always want to keep them. But these habits are vital to keep us on the right track in life. And thankfully, we are not on our own. God has given us Jesus and the Holy Spirit to support and encourage us. The important thing to remember is that if we drop the ball, we can get back up and start again.
All of us at St Mary the Virgin will welcome you anytime you want to come and share in worship with us. And a very happy, healthy and yes – spiritually fit – New Year!