In former days, when literacy was by no means universal, if someone who could not read and write was required to sign a document, to evidence their assent, they would make a mark. Invariably the mark was some sort of cross. It bound them to the document, but it was nonetheless an anonymous signature, having nothing to do with their name, their identity or character.
Over the years, often reference to Christmas on cards, in adverts on television, across the media, has become Xmas. We all know it’s an abbreviation. But still, like the mark of old, it takes the very name of Jesus out of the celebration of his birth in some way. It anonymises Christmas, removing the name, the character, the person at the heart of the story we tell. Remarkably, utterly amazing, God becomes human.
These times are hard in so many ways for so many people in our Parish and beyond, not just in the UK but worldwide. There is much suffering through loss, bereavement; poverty; distress through isolation and inability to hug and be close to those whom we love. Such a challenging time.
So, this year, perhaps more importantly than any other, putting Christ back into Christmas seems like the gift of an age. For in Jesus, in that tiny, fragile, most human of babies, God comes close to each of us, becoming one of us, sharing our identity and in suffering and poverty like so many now. God did not stand apart but entered our world to show us his solidarity in whatever circumstances we find ourselves and the way to be with him through Jesus.
There can be no greater gift. There can be no more hopeful message this Christmas than that.
At St Mary’s this year, we do not know yet whether we will be permitted to meet in worship together to celebrate Christ’s birth, our Christmas. But as with all the churches in the Parish, look out for the latest news on our website. And wherever you are, the church family at St Mary’s wish you every blessing, every kindness and the assurance of the grace of God in Christ, made one of us.
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
Harvest Lunch Sunday 22nd September 12.30pm
Location St. Mark’s School hall
Come and join our Harvest celebration lunch, prepared by Lindsey and her team. Good food and good company! Tickets (adults £8, children £4) , including a glass of wine, from Lindsey email@example.com / 01825 830723