The High Sheriff of Kent is coming to Benenden on Sunday 8th April at 3 pm for his Declaration Service.
On Saturday 24th March at 7.30 pm the Friends of St George’s are hosting a concert with Sarah Andrew, Tim Rundle, Zoe Harmsworth and Quentin Thomas (Oboe, Bassoon, Cello and Organ). All are welcome.
Put a spring in your step for Lent
I finished last month’s letter by encouraging you to be positive about 2018, to turn any regrets from 2017 into opportunities for 2018, to be positive about the year. Spring is a lovely time; a time when, personally, I feel positive about things. Spring, you may have noticed, is just around the corner.
Nature is doing some very strange things. In December, I saw gorse bushes starting to put out their bright yellow flowers – I saw this in the New Forest, and I saw it when walking in the Pentlands in Scotland. Much closer to home, we have crocuses that are appearing in the our garden, and I’ve heard reports of daffodils being seen already.
The year moves on, into the second month, and there are these signs of things to come – good things. Spring: with all it’s growth, better weather (hopefully), lengthening days, warmer days, getting out in the garden again, going for more walks. We are fortunate where we live that we can see the signs in nature … if we just take the time to look for them.
And so it is with the Church year; it too moves on – to exciting things to come. In no time at all we will be celebrating Easter once again – the major, most exciting and important time in our calendar. (Easter is quite early this year; being celebrated on the first day of April. The earliest it can be is 22 March, but the last time that happened was 1818!) Then, before you know it, we will be celebrating Pentecost again.
These things are just around the corner, and there are signs of Easter coming. On 14 February, apart from it being Valentine’s Day it is also Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. (N.B. There’s a service at 7:30pm!) Many people see this as a quiet, reflective, contemplative time, and indeed it is. It is also, if you let it be, a time of personal spiritual growth. It is a time when we can look forward to what is to come – the joy of Easter – and be ready for that, but we can only be ready by preparing ourselves for it. Applying a gardening metaphor: by doing a bit of spiritual, inward pruning, so that we get good, strong growth from Easter. To be ready to remember the death (for you) of Jesus on Good Friday, and be ready to celebrate the joy of his resurrection at Easter, then we need to set aside time to prepare for it.
I encourage you to think about Lent this year, and use it as a time of preparation, ready for the growth that will come from it and the wonderful joy of Easter. Do not have any regrets at the end of this Lent – be positive about it. God bless.
Revd David Commander, Rector
You are welcome to come along to The Bull on Sunday 11th February at 7.30 pm to join in the singing of favourite hymns.
After the 5pm Choral Evensong service on 7th January there is an organ recital by Alexander Palotai.
His programme is as follows:
Épiphanie – Gaston Litaize (1909-1991)
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 662 – J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 663 – J.S. Bach
Trio super: Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 664 – J.S. Bach
‘Allegro Risoluto’ from ’Symphonie No. 2 in E minor, Op. 20’ – Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Alexander Palotai began his musical education as a chorister in Chelmsford Cathedral in 2005. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Sir David Willcocks organ scholarship at Clifton College, where he studied the organ with James Drinkwater and James Hills. In 2014 he was part of the first class of organists at the Royal Academy of Music’s junior department, where he was taught by Anne Marsden Thomas and Peter Holder. As a soloist, he has performed in venues such as Bristol Cathedral, St Lawrence Jewry in London and St Lawrence, Alton, as part of their international recital series. As Senior Organ Scholar at Worcester College, he accompanies the choirs for services, concerts, recordings and broadcasts. He also trains the boy choristers in conjunction with the other Organ Scholars and the Director of Chapel Music. He is currently taught by William Whitehead and is an Associate of the Royal College of Organists. In September 2018 he will take up the position of Organ Scholar at Salisbury Cathedral.
This recital is open to anyone who would like to come along. Those not attending the service should be at the church by 6 pm.
Here we go again – another New Year
At this time of year, we always seem to be looking forward to what the new year will bring us; often hoping for something better than the last one. There will be happy events to look forward to: nationally, there is a royal wedding in the diary; locally, we have the pantomime to enjoy together; and we can also watch, expectantly, the work on the building of the new Primary School – which is very exciting.
There will also be happy family events, I trust, to look forward to; we have a family wedding in Scotland to enjoy as our eldest daughter gets married. There will also be poignant events, like the marking of the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Great War in November. There will be events, currently unknown to us, that may affect us: how will the Brexit negotiations develop? What will Donald Trump get up to?
Like most years, 2018 will no doubt bring some happy occasions, some concerning events, and some difficult and testing experiences. If we look back on 2017 that probably sounds quite familiar; most years are made up of things like that. What have we learnt from 2017 that will help us through the things that we will experience in the coming year? Or are we just going to muddle through again, and simply react to the things that affect us? In my January letter last year, I put out the challenge that your faith is important; how are you going to get to know God better this year? Did you? Did you do anything to try and get to know God better: reading scriptures, or talking to other Christians or people of other faiths, or praying more regularly? Whether you did or didn’t do anything, the challenge is still the same this year: get to know God better.
Perhaps when you look back on 2017, you have some regrets; most people do in one way or another. So how is this coming year going to be different? Or do you just feel it is going to be ‘more of the same’ – ‘here we go again’. Is there something you promised yourself you would do last year, but then let it slide and you haven’t done it? Now is the time to do it! Especially if it is a regret; in particular if it has to do with a friend, or a neighbour, or a family member. Do not get to the end of 2018 with the same feeling of regret; do something about it now. Do not let 2018 waste away.
Do not let 2018 be another year of ‘here we go again’. Be positive about it; do something different; turn any regrets from 2017 into positives for 2018. May it be a year of thinking, ‘here we go, I am going to do this.’ And may it be a good new year for you. God bless.
Revd David Commander, Rector
Another year draws to a close
With December, the year draws to a close; and another year goes by. A year with, I trust, many happy things to look back on; things that bring a smile to your face as they come to mind. Mixed, I have no doubt, with some hard things that you’ve had to deal with this year, and perhaps some events that are painful to think back on. I hope that the balance has been towards the happier things of life for you this year.
On this yearly cycle of life, the Church now moves into Advent and then on to Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation for us; preparing ourselves for the celebrations of Christmas, hopefully as we remember – amongst all the wrapping paper, presents, food, drink, and family time – the reason that many are having time off work … we are celebrating the birth of an incredibly special baby about 2,000 years ago; a baby who Christians believe, as a man (and as God) came to help us and save us. Advent is also, for the Church, a time of preparing ourselves, more deeply, for the return of Jesus again – whenever that may be. Perhaps it will be in thousands of years, or maybe hundreds of years; or perhaps it will be in your lifetime; or tomorrow. None of us know; but we should be prepared – that is what Advent is about.
The years also move on; this year we are celebrating five Christmases together. I cannot believe where that time has gone. There are plenty of things to share together in the run up to Christmas and over Christmas; I hope we’ll meet up at some of them. It all begins with our candle-lit Advent Carol service on Sunday 3 December; then an Advent evening together with Revd Rosemary at the Mission Church in Sandhurst on Monday 4 December. The Primary School Nativity on Wednesday 13 December; the Parish Carol Service, with the church illuminated by the candelabras, on the evening of Tuesday 19 December. We’ve then got a choice of four services on offer on Christmas Eve: 8am Communion, 10am Morning Worship, 3pm The Crib Service (come dressed as a nativity character – whatever your age!) and 11.30pm for the first Communion of Christmas. On Christmas Day you can then join us for Communion at 8am, or 10am for Family Worship – which then runs into another Communion if you’d like to stay. However, it doesn’t end there! If you’d prefer not to be on your own for the rest of Christmas Day, you’re welcome to come and have Christmas lunch at the Memorial Hall (but please sign up for this – for further details see page 9); or drop into the Hall for a drink when you’re out for a walk. Alternatively, you can catch me in The Bull, of course! We have a great community spirit in Benenden; come and join in with it. I wish you a blessed Christmas.
Revd David Commander, Rector
7.30 pm on Monday 4th December.
“On the Way”. An illusrated Advent talk by Revd Rosemary Kobus van Wengen
Sunday 3rd December. 5pm at St George’s Church
Our rural churchyard
In August, I put out a plea for people to help those who have maintained our churchyard for many, many years. I am delighted to say that the response was very positive, and for that I thank those who have come forward and have helped on several of the working parties.
Some may recall a comment in the October 2016 magazine about the introduction of plants and shrubs, personal mementos and other artificial items on some graves, and these being against the Diocesan Churchyard Regulations 2014. (These are set nationally, but with slight variations across different Diocese. A copy is available in church.) The problem, over the years, with the Regulations not being implemented, is that their boundaries become blurred, and you get into a situation where someone says, “Why can’t I have … whatever the wish is … on my loved one’s grave, like they have?” – pointing to an example of something similar, somewhere else in the churchyard. Before we know it, there’s a proliferation of items that not only do not comply with the Churchyard Regulations, but which to other people look completely out of place in a rural churchyard.
Here, of course, lies a pastoral minefield that I am about to tiptoe through: how to stop the increase of such personal mementoes that do not comply?
Concern has been expressed about items in the churchyard, especially in the context of what is required under the Regulations – these are effectively nationally applicable bylaws framed in such a way as to provide a balance between the sometimes conflicting needs of: (i) ensuring an acceptable appearance of a churchyard – as opposed to a cemetery; (ii) maintenance; and (iii) the wishes of relatives of the deceased.
Among items not permitted under the Regulations are artificial flowers, miniature fences and chippings, the latter two, particularly, causing hazards and considerable difficulties for the maintenance of the churchyard. The Regulations also say that rose bushes, shrubs and trees must not be planted on individual graves, because they have a habit of growing. (For example, in St Nicholas Sandhurst a conifer has been planted in a grave, while 25ft above the grave is an overhead power-line; something will have to be done about this, for obvious reasons!)
To bring our churchyard within the Regulations, all non-permitted items will be removed after a period of three months from their first being observed. They will be recorded and kept for 12 months, and if they are not claimed within this period, they will be suitably disposed of. (Notices will be posted in the churchyard to coincide with this article.) Existing small plants will not be disturbed.
If you can help by removing anything on your family grave that does not comply, we would be grateful, and it may reduce the upset some may feel. I trust that we can maintain the beauty of our rural churchyard for years to come for the benefit of everyone who visits.
Revd David Commander, Rector