Posts Tagged ‘St Mark’s’

All Souls Choral Evensong at St Mark’s

October 28, 2012
All Hallows Eve a gathering of the souls of the dead

All Hallows Eve a gathering of the souls of the dead

Father, All-Powerful and Ever-Living God, today we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place. May their prayers bring us your forgiveness and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. — All Hallow’s Eve Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours

St Mark’s has spoken evensong following the Book of Common Prayer, but rarely choral evensong or a service in the evening on a Sunday (in this case late afternoon on a Sunday).

Suffering from bronchitis, I suffered a bad coughing fit from the smoke machine at the beginning of the service.

All Souls is when we mark the passing of the dead, which strictly speaking is on 2 November 2012, leaving me completely confused.

I thought it was the last evening of October when we gather the souls wandering the earth, Halloween being a bastardisation of. I queried this with Father Ian.

Where the confusion arose is All Hallows Eve, which as I thought, is the gathering of souls, and is 31 October, followed by All Saints Day on 1 November, although the church no longer officially recognises All Hallows Eve.

We were asked to write the names of those who had died, place in a basket, then these were placed on the altar by Father Ian.

I wrote out the name of a friend, but then not being sure she was dead and hoping she was not, thought it not a good idea to cast her with the dead.

I screwed up the paper, set light to it, and used it to light a candle for her. To say the least, it attracted a few strange looks.

I explained to Father Ian what I had done and why. He was ok about it. I think he is used to me doing things my own way.

There was a strange irony, I not a regular church go-er, was more familiar with choral evensong, than most of the small congregation (little more than a dozen). A couple of weeks ago I was sat with the choir at Winchester Cathedral, occasionally attend choral evensong at Holy Trinity in Guildford, and last year was at St Paul’s for choral evensong during the occupation of St Paul’s in-the-Camp (which last weekend celebrated its first anniversary).

It was a very cold day. The church, though warmer than outside, was like sitting in a fridge. I checked after the service, no heating. I assumed they could not afford to use it for such a small congregation. I asked Father Ian. It had died.

Father Andrew told a lovely anecdote to a small group of us after the service.

He had to take a funeral of someone in their mid-twenties. The church was packed. A latecomer arrived to find the church full to overflowing. On entering the church exclaimed: Oh Jesus Christ! Father Ian responded: Oh what a lovely greeting on entering my church!

Mary’s thoughts on her way to Calvary

April 6, 2012

My heart is broken,
As my beloved son comes to death,
Others mock him,
A crown of thorns forced on his head,
Rose bush thorns, sharp as holly like daggers digging in.

I can feel his pain,
Sharp splinters pushing in,
Heavy wood slowly slipping down,
The stony road prickling his bare feet, the hot, sandy, dusty path.

They’re shouting, and jeering,
The spiteful soldiers, in their rich armour,
Their secretive echo around my head,
Blood trickles down Jesus’ straggled hair.

I have no choice,
But to stare longingly at him,
I shall have to bear living without him,
Jesus has agreed and will not change his mind,
He will take the hard and painful way, to be crucified.

I have hope,
That Jesus will enjoy a grand, new life,
And God’s plan to change the world will succeed,
People will change and live a better life,
And Jesus, my son will have given his life for us.

Written by a year 3/4 (age 7-9 years old) pupil at St Mark’s Primary School.

Published in St Mark’s Parish Magazine (March-April 2012).

A celebration of Holy Week at St Mark’s by the children
Reflection on The Nail at St Mark’s
The Cross

Reflection on The Nail at St Mark’s

April 4, 2012
reflection on a wooden cross of nails

reflection on a wooden cross of nails

single lit candle

single lit candle

The Pilgrimage - Paulo Coelho

The Pilgrimage - Paulo Coelho

I was at St Mark’s this evening for two reasons:

  • service of devotional reflection on the nail
  • mark Paulo Coelho eight million friends on facebook

You will not find service of nails in a liturgical calender, at least I do not think so, I am no expert on church dates.

For the last few weeks, St Mark’s has been running a book club on The Nail. This evening was a service of reflection and meditation.

How would you have acted if you were one of the following:

  • Peter (who denied)
  • the soldiers (who were only following orders)
  • Pontius Pilate (Roman provincial governor who washed his hands of the whole affair)
  • Caiaphas (High Priest who wished to maintain his status)
  • Judas (who betrayed)
  • the disciples (who ran away and hid)
  • the criminals (who hung on crosses alongside)
  • the crowd (who bayed for blood)

The one group who were not mentioned were the women. The women did not run away and hide, did not deny, did not betray. The women remained with Jesus until the end.

We were asked to each hold a nail, to imagine how we would react?

Would we have driven in the nails if ordered to do so, bayed for blood, run away or denied we knew Jesus, or would we have stood up and challenged what was taking place? Would we have followed religious doctrine and dogma, or would we have listened to our heart?

How we would behave we do not know until we are in a situation.

Last year I had someone try to kill me. I am lucky to be alive.

I would probably speak out, and then be hung on the cross.

How many people reflect on their own lifestyle, the impact it has on those around them?

Do we ask where our food comes from, our clothes? How is it grown, produced?

Slow fashion v fast fashion.

Faded washed out jeans, literally killer jeans. Do we ask of those who are killed to produce the faded jeans, especially when we can get the same look through hard work, not throwing our clothes away every few months, or simply buying second hand jeans?

I resisted the temptation to dig the nail into my hand to focus on the pain, a technique Paulo Coelho describes in The Pilgrimage.

We were also asked to focus on a cross of nails on the floor in front of us. The lit candle represented light, hope, at a time of darkness.

For a future run up to Easter I would suggest ‘I Thirst’.

On Sunday, Paulo Coelho exceeded eight million friends on facebook. By common consensus it was agreed to have 24 hours of prayer and acts of random kindness.

The prayer was at 6pm local time today. I was later than 6pm, but then I do not determine the opening times of St Mark’s

I lit a candle for Canon Andrew White (for his work in Iraq), for Paulo Coelho (thanks for his writing and the wonderful St Joseph’s Day party at which I was his guest last month), Mio Baba (for a wonderful three days together in Bassano del Grappa).

I donated to the church library The Pilgrimage.

A celebration of Holy Week at St Mark’s by the children
Maundy Thursday
The Cross
Mary’s thoughts on her way to Calvary

A celebration of Holy Week at St Mark’s by the children

March 29, 2012
A cross of nails

A cross of nails

a single candle lit for friends

a single candle lit for friends

I have been to St Mark’s Church at Christmas when the children of St Mark’s Primary school run the service. I have been very, very impressed.

Children’s Carol Concert at St Mark’s

What would it be like when they run the service for Easter?

This evening I found out. I was very, very impressed. Not only was I impressed, but I found it deeply moving.

On entering the church I found musical chairs was still in play, only the people do not move the pews move.

Following a brief welcome by the Rector Rev Ian Hedges, the children took over and ran the service for a little over half an hour.

We had a group of players, actors or performers, call them what you will. They were all dressed the same, in oversize creamy yellow t-shirts, several, like prisoners, had stamped on the back who they were, for example Jesus, disciple, soldier etc, and black shorts. They were told they could go home as they were dressed, they did not need to change, but please if you do, remember to take home the clothes you arrived in.

Another smaller group of children narrated the scene, using what I assume were taken directly from or adaptation of the Gospels.

Another much larger group of children sang.

As the children narrated, the players performed mime.

The story was told from the Last Supper through to betrayal, trial, beating, execution and burial in a tomb.

It was incredible to watch. Well deserving of putting on as a stage performance.

At the end, thanks from Ian to the children and an excellent summing up.

Ian held a wooden cross. Said how they had been hammering in nails. The play deliberately ended at a low, Jesus being executed on a cross, carried off to a tomb.

Seeing the cross of nails, I thought of the medieval cross of nails from Coventry Cathedral that Canon Andrew White wears and the good work he does in Iraq and the Middle East.

The children were year 3/4, which meant absolutely nothing to me. I asked. They were aged seven to nine years old. The school groups the children together spanning two academic years.

I lit a single candle for my friends Mio, Paulo, Andrew and several others. I seemd to have started a trend as several of the children then lit candles.

I only wish my lovely Japanese friend Mio (a kindergarten teacher) could have been there, as she would have loved it.

Ash Wednesday
Reflection on The Nail at St Mark’s
Mary’s thoughts on her way to Calvary

Flower Festival at St Mark’s

June 28, 2011
Flower Festival at St Mark's

Flower Festival at St Mark's

I had a sneak preview a couple of days before. I was on my way out, the heavens opened and it poured down with rain. I took shelter in the church and helped out.

A woodland glade, a sacred grove? The Flower Festival St Mark’s was all of these and more. Different areas, different themes. The altar an RAF theme.

Ancient churches are not sacred places because a church authority has said so. They occupy sacred sites, from when Man knew how to communicate with the Soul of the World, long before Christianity arrived. Some still do know how to communicate with the Soul of the World.

From Old Sarum it is possible to look over Salisbury. It came to the Bishop in a dream where to locate Salisbury Cathedral. Stand at Old Sarum, look at Salisbury Cathedral and you will see the Cathedral spire lines up with a notch on the hillside the other side of the valley. The notch is an ancient trackway. It is like looking down the sight of a rifle. You are looking along a ley line.

The prophets spoke of an age to come. In that age we are restored to our role as Custodians of Gaia. [see Love Wins]

Our ancient cathedrals, for example Lincoln Cathedral, were an attempt to recreate the wonders of creation. The stonemason crafted wonders out of stone, often hidden away in nooks and crannies, but seen by God.

Sunday afternoon the Chase Singers gave a choral performance, but for me a sad disappointment compared with Simple Singers, a Danish choral group, who sang a month earlier in May in Holy Trinity in Guildford.

Excellent cakes!

A special thanks to Marie and her helpers for all their hard work.

I donated to the church library The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho.

I also gave out a few prayer and meditation cards I had obtained from Eden People.

Synchronicity: Whilst helping out a couple of days before, I mentioned to a lady who I was helping a sermon I had received from Desmond Tutu a few years ago. The next day I checked my e-mail and to my surprise found I had an e-mail from Desmond Tutu seeking help on Palestine. The first time I had heard from him other than the occasion I mentioned to the lady who I helped with the flower arranging! The first (and probably only) book I borrowed from the church library many years ago was by Desmond Tutu.

St Mark’s is a red-brick Victorian church in Farnborough. The Flower Festival was part of the 130 years celebrations.

George Abbott’s Guildford. A talk by Mary Alexander at St Mary’s Church in Guildford. George Abbott was a former Archbishop of Canterbury, a contributor to the King James’ Bible. 7-30pm Tuesday evening 28 June 2011.

Creative Arts @ Costa, a celebration of music, word and the visual arts, takes place at Costa in Swan Lane in Guildford on the first Tuesday of the month (same day as the farmers market). The next event is Tuesday evening 5 July 2011. There will be no events in August and September. Swan Lane is the narrow lane that runs between the High Street and North Street at the lower end of the High Street. With Eden People, a Christian collective.

The Keystone Spirit is a regular meeting of Eden People at The Keystone Pub (3 Portsmouth Road, Guildford, GU2 4BL).

The Bible in Voice and Verse, a celebration of the King James’ Bible. St John’s, Stoke Road, Guildford. 7.45pm Thursday 14 July 2011.

Cultural Day. New Testament Church of God. 2-6pm Sunday 6 August 2011.

Eucharist: Feast of Mary and Elizabeth
GK’s Funky People at St Mark’s
Christmas Tree Festival at St Mark’s
Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s
Christingle at St Mark’s

Eucharist: Feast of Mary and Elizabeth

June 1, 2011

Sometimes we get diverted or delayed, our path is changed. There is often a reason for this. We should pause and reflect. [see The Valkyries]

Yesterday, I went out late morning for a midday meeting. I thought the meeting would last an hour, I would be back at the latest by mid-afternoon.

The meeting was nearly two hours, I got diverted. It was 7 o’clock that evening, as I was on my way back, that I saw Ian Hedges, Rector of St Mark’s, entering the church. Not often finding St Mark’s open, I crossed the road and followed in his footsteps.

As I walked into St Mark’s, my breath was taken away. The pews, which would normally be in serried rows facing the front of the church, had been rearranged, now they were running parallel with the length of the church. The altar, a table, was in the middle, slightly off-centre. What this had created was an amazing sense of space.

Ian told me that a service was about to start at 7-30 pm, and so I decided to stay.

The service was Eucharist: Feast of Mary and Elizabeth. I have to admit church liturgy is over my head. I enjoy when sung, especially if in Latin.

I loooked around, and the setting sun was shining through the East Windows and the North Windows.

On a table is a Vision Journal, where visitors can write their thoughts.

I learnt later from Ian that this was a one year experiment, with special licence from the Church Authorities.

The only thing I did not like was that the library had been relegated to the church porch where it is cold and draughty. I would recommend a nook or corner is found in the church, a couple of comfortable chairs, a coffee table, where people can sit and relax and browse the books, something that is not possible in the porch where the books currently reside.

I donated to the church a copy of The Shack a deep meta-physical discussion of the nature of God.

Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s

December 16, 2010
late Victorian Christmas cards

late Victorian Christmas cards

It was in July 1880 that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Connaught laid, upon a miserably wet day, the foundation stone of St Mark’s Church and seventeen years later she returned to lay the foundation stone for St Mark’s school. Now 130 years later, we celebrate the success of both the church and the school and rejoice in the close partnership that church and school have built. Tonight, we turn back the clocks and try to imagine we are worshipping in a time gone by.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a Christmas Tree Festival at St Mark’s Church, a four day event which included a market, a night with GK’s Funky People, Christingle Service organised by the children from St Mark’s Primary School and a tea party for the old folk.

At the Christingle Service the back of the programme listed the upcoming Christmas programme, one of which was a Victorian Christmas Carol Concert.

I almost set off to it Sunday evening, luckily I double checked the programme to find it was actually Wednesday evening, three days later.

I arrived to be greeted at the door by the Rev Ian Hedges and handed a programme by a lady dressed in Victorian costume.

And what a lovely spectacle greeted my eyes. At the front of the church half a dozen little urchins stood holding candles. A sprinkling of the congregation had gone to the trouble of wearing Victorian dress.

The concert started with a brief explanation by Ian Hedges of the concert and the early history of the church and the associated school. He apologised that he had been unable to obtain a Victorian frock coat for the occasion.

The concert was in celebration of 130 years since the founding of the Church. In July 1880 the foundation stone was laid by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Connaught, daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria. Seventeen years later, the foundation stone of St Mark’s School was laid. A commemorative service was held to celebrate the opening of church. It then fell down!

Ian then handed over to the children.

Lights were dimmed, a procession of children walked through the church holding candles to join the other half dozen already at the front. The reading of the lessons, the singing, all led by the children.

What I especially liked was when a group stood together beneath an old lamp and explained the various symbols of Christmas.

I also liked a rather unusual Tell Me a Story Shining Star, giving the impression of an old fold song.

The concert ended with a rather upbeat version of The Holy and Ivy. Followed by a closing address by Ian Hedges. He had little to say other than to thank everyone, because as he said, the kids had said it all. Then at his request, the kids gave us an encore of their upbeat The Holy and Ivy.

The collection was for a charity called Saint George Foundation. I had never heard of them and thought nothing more of it, until a chance conversation with a man as I was leaving, who just happened to be the founder of the charity. From him I learnt it was helping street children in Sierra Leone. I am pleased to report the collection raised £200.

Strange, as during the carol service my thoughts turned to Canon Andrew White, aka the Vicar of Baghdad, and the work he has done with the street children of Baghdad and the love he has for those children. As I was writing I thought of the foundation Paulo Coelho funds in Rio to help street children.

I had been very impressed by the way the children from St Mark’s School conducted the Christingle Service a couple of weeks before. I was equally impressed by the way they conducted the Victorian Carol Concert.

My only regret was no photography as I would have loved to have shared the visual experience.

I was also feeling very sad as my lovely friend Sian was not with me.

After the service I found under a Christmas tree delightful late Victorian Christmas Cards.

At this time of year as our thoughts turn to Bethlehem, two thousand years ago, please also give a thought to Bethlehem today. Then it was under Roman occupation, today it is under Israeli occupation. The people of Bethlehem live in an open-air prison surrounded by an Apartheid Wall. [see Bethlehem Hidden from View]

All the more tragic that there are churches like St Mary’s in Guildford that support the apartheid regime and ethnic cleansing by having on sale Israeli so-called Peace Oil. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

Also see

The Digital Story of Christmas Nativity

Christingle at St Mark’s

November 29, 2010
Christingle at St Mark's

Christingle at St Mark's

A very moving Christingle service conducted by the children from St Mark’s Primary School.

I walked into St Mark’s Church and it was packed, packed with children. Is it normally this busy I asked, no I was told, but this is a special service for the children.

The rector Ian Hedges introduced the service, spoke of the wonderful time we had the previous night with GK’s Funky People, the market the day before, explained that Christingle would normally take place on Christmas Eve, but that it had been brought forward to be part of the four day Christmas Tree Festival and was it not marvellous for it to take place in amongst the trees.

He then handed it over to the children. I could not believe how professional they were, the entire service, they even controlled the sound system. And this was under-11s!

The children explained what Christingle was, explained each part of the symbolism, the orange represented the planet, the red ribbon tied around the orange the blood of Christ, the things they stuck in the orange the fruits of the earth, the points of the compass, traditionally they would have used goose quills, but they made do with cocktail sticks, the candle affixed to the top of the orange the light Jesus shone into the world. The rector then explained lighting of the candles and the precautions to be taken.

The children each then were given a Christingle, the candles were lit, and the lights turned off.

The rector summed up. He said how we take the planet for granted, the fruits of the planet, its seasons. What struck me was how Gaia-centric. [see Christian Theology and Gaia]

The school should be very proud of how the children conducted themselves, the parents proud too.

Christingle has its origins in the Moravian Church. At Christmas 1747, Germany, Bishop Johannes de Watteville thought about how he could explain the love of Jesus to everyone, and what Christmas really meant to the children in the church. He decided to make a simple symbol to express the message of Christmas in a fresh and lively way. Pastor Johannes de Watteville gave each child a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon, with a prayer that said “Lord Jesus, kindle a flame in these dear children’s hearts”. This was the first Christingle service.

in 1968, John Pensom of The Children’s Society introduced Christingle services to the Anglican Church, where the custom spread quickly.

Christingle means quite literally Christ-light.

As our thoughts turn to Christmas and Bethlehem, please look to Bethlehem today, an open-air prison encircled by an Apartheid wall. [see Bethlehem Hidden from View]

The next joint production at St Mark’s will be a Victorian Christmas Carol Concert to celebrate 130 years of St Mark’s. 6-30pm Sunday 15 December 2010. Admission Adult £3, non-St Mark’s School Child £1.

Also see

Mary Margaret tells the story of Jonah

GK’s Funky People at St Mark’s

November 28, 2010
GK's Funky People at St Mark's

GK's Funky People at St Mark's

A church turned into a nightclub for the night! What is the world coming to?

I was at a party in a church once. It was after the Anarchist Book Fair. It was I have to admit quite good fun. An abandoned church had been taken over by squatters and turned into an autonomous community space. [see Anarchist Bookfair 2004]

But that was not quite what was happening at St Mark’s. As part of their Christmas Tree Festival it was for one night only to be turned into a nightclub with live music.

For those who are appalled and think this is an immoral use of a church, they lack any understanding of the charismatic leader of their faith and I would suggest they read The Jesus I never Knew by Philip Yancey.

Jesus was a human being. He got angry, he laughed, he cried, he was at times a bit rough around the edges. And he loved a party. His very first miracle was to turn water into wine. He saw a party was running out of steam as the wine was running out and he came to the rescue.

But what of turning the money tables over and driving the traders out of the Temple? That was because of improper use. The money changers were blatantly ripping people off.

Yes, there are improper and immoral uses of churches. There is the scandal of Israeli so-called Peace Oil on sale in St Mary’s in Guildford. It is being sold on a deception, with people being deliberately mislead into believing they are making an ethical purchase. The rector is aware but he is more interested in the pieces of silver from Card Aid who are making use of the church than in taking a moral stand. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

But ethical issues to one side, what of the evening?

GK’s Funky People were fantastic. Anyone who was not there missed out on a very good evening. A seven-piece Jazz-Rock-Funk-Blues-Soul Band – bass guitar, rhythm guitar, percussion, drums, two on sax and a female vocalist (who blew a few notes on a sax). They rocked the church and had them rocking in the aisles.

Midway a break for a buffet and well done those excellent workers who prepared the food as it was very enjoyable. In the other corner a bar.

Many thanks to Ian Hedges the rector for organising such an enjoyable evening.

My only regret my lovely friend Sian could not come as she would have loved the evening.

The money raised from the Christmas Tree Festival will go to the repair fund as the roof is leaking.

Christmas Tree Festival at St Mark’s

November 27, 2010
Christmas tree festival at St Mark's

Christmas tree festival at St Mark's

I did not know I was going to a Christmas Tree Festival, I thought I was going to a Christmas Fayre, you know what I mean, stalls, Christmas Cards, mince pies and tea. I did not even know what a Christmas Tree Festival was. I am still not sure.

As I headed towards the church hall I saw that the lights were on in the church. Maybe that is where it is I thought, looked in the church hall and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw what appeared to be a yoga class, definitely not a Christmas Fayre. I headed over to the church, pushed open the door and it took my breath away.

The church was packed. Stalls everywhere. A choir singing. Christmas trees everywhere. And something I had never seen, the church lit up inside at night. St Mark’s is red brick Victorian, from the outside not worth a second glance, but inside, yes, well worth visiting.

I said hello to the vicar, then sorry I must dash, got to go home to get my camera. I ran home and back, probably not a wise thing to do, as below freezing, but luckily it had been very dry for a few days and therefore not icy underfoot, at least not under my feet.

To think I almost did not go. I was thinking why have a Christmas Fayre in the evening when it is cold and no one wants to venture out, why not have it in the daytime when less cold. But I could see why it was at night, and yes, people did venture out. My only regret not going on time and not taking my camera. By the time I got back people were already leaving and I just caught the tail end of the choir.

My other regret was that my lovely friend Sian was not there.

I have never come across a Christmas Tree Festival before. This is a four day event. The market on Friday night, Saturday night Jazz-funk night with the church turned into a nightclub including a bar (yes, you did not misread), Sunday afternoon a Christingle Service with candles, then afternoon tea on Monday.

I would have loved to have gone to the Jazz-funk night with my lovely friend Sian but sadly she has not been well. Maybe she will be up to it. Going on my own without her is no fun.

And yes there was tea and mince pies. And there was mulled wine, but I did not get around to either. I was too busy chatting to people.

I talked to several people about the sale of Israeli so-called Peace Oil on sale in St Mary’s Church in Guildford. All agreed it was a scandal. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

The money raised from the Christmas Tree Festival will go to the repair fund as the roof is leaking.

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