Parish of Leatherhead - the Osborne Parish Magazine letters

December 2017

The Rector writes ...

A young teenager falls pregnant...
An unmarried mother gives birth ...
A refugee family fleeing persecution becomes another "asylum-seeker" statistic...

Yet another set of run-of-the-mill newspaper headlines in our enlightened century?

No. This is our story; this is our song. This is the best news the world has ever had. This is the story of the Incarnation of our Lord God ... in a manger in Bethlehem. God resolved to become one of us - a human being - to show us a glimpse of His face, to show us how he had designed us to be: loving, compassionate, servant-hearted, worshipful people, living out the fullness of our humanity.

I know that many people lament the way that Christmas has become yet another excuse for consumer excess - shopping till we drop, eating and drinking more than we would normally do, watching any and every sort of televised extravaganza. But that is the world in which we now live. That is the reality of the lives of most of our fellow human beings.

As Christians, we make a different statement. We believe that the events of 2,000 years ago have changed life fundamentally. We believe in the First Coming of our Lord. We believe that we are called by God to live out the Good News of His love. And, as we start this Advent season, we also affirm that we believe in the Second Coming - that Christ will come again in glory to signal the end of time.
 
There is a wonderful recipe for living - Live your life as if Jesus rose from the dead yesterday, and is coming back tomorrow. Wouldn't that sharpen our focus on what is really important?

May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and blessed New Year.

Graham Osborne

August 2017

The Rector writes ...

A Ministry of Hospitality


Doesn't the word "holiday" have a lovely ring to it? Those tied to school holidays may well be still looking forward to their holidays.
Those not so tied may, by now, just have memories - or may be anticipating a holiday yet to come.

I have found a website that contains The Grammarphobia Blog, a haven for those interested in how words are derived.

Originally the word "holy-day" meant a consecrated day or a religious festival. The progression from "holy day" through "holyday" to "holiday" took some four centuries - 12th to 15th -and it was only in the 1400s that "holiday" acquired another, more secular meaning. The blog says:
The Oxford English Dictionary defines this sense of the word as "a day on which ordinary occupations (of an individual or a community) are suspended; a day of exemption or cessation from work; a day of festivity, recreation, or amusement."

That's how the single word "holiday" came to include the secular side of life and became identified with "vacations". But the two-word versions ("holy day" "holy-day") retained the original meaning—a day set aside for religious observance.

Today we still recognize these different senses and spellings.

Now here's an aside. In the Middle English period, people sometimes observed holy days by eating a large flatfish called butte. Thus this fish became known as "halibut" ("hali" for holy and "but" for flatfish).
Well, what do you know!

My dictionary defines a holiday as "a period in which a break is taken from work or studies for rest, travel, or recreation". Rest, travel and recreation - don't they sound a good combination?

Travel may or not figure in our holidays, but I guess that, for most of us, "rest" on a holiday means not doing what we would normally be doing. Not only that but it also means the gaps in between doing recreational things - which might be doing all sorts of things that we wouldn't normally dream of doing like abseiling, paragliding or bungee-jumping -but it probably means gentler things like sightseeing, browsing round deliciously unfamiliar places or simply soaking up the sun (or dodging the raindrops).

Those are what are normally thought of as 'recreation', things done at special times - out of working hours, at evenings and weekends or on holiday. But rest and recreation are not just for special times, they are for all times.

Jesus talked about rest, a very particular kind of rest: "Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matt. 11:28-29)

What a wonderful image that phrase "rest for your souls" conjures up -tranquillity, calmness, peace - that very special quality encapsulated in the Hebrew word Shalom. And what a wonderful promise - that if we enlist in Christ's service, willingly submitting to his yoke, we will know his peace, we will know our soul's ease.

And if you spell "recreation" slightly differently, "re-creation", a whole new meaning unfolds. Re-creation, being created anew, is at the heart of the Gospel message. There has to be repentance, for sure, before anything can happen; a turning back, a recognition that we are not doing things the way God would have us do them, not putting others and their interests before ourselves and our own interests.

But if that does happen, if we do repent, if we do begin to realise that there is another way of being, a new way of living in the way that Jesus showed us, then we have the chance of being a whole new creation. As St Paul told the Corinthians "if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Cor 5:17)

So if you have already had your holiday, I hope you had a splendid time. If you still plan to go but haven't yet, I hope you will have just as splendid a time. If you have decided that a holiday is not on, I hope you enjoy staying just where you are.

Whatever your situation in the holiday stakes, I do hope that you will take a long look at the other possibilities of rest and re-creation - and that you will relish being rested, refreshed and renewed.

Graham Osborne

April 2017

The Rector writes ...

The overarching aspiration of the church family in Leatherhead parish is "growing disciples of Jesus Christ", not only growing as disciples ourselves but also, in our turn, growing new disciples.
This is our response to the Great Commission that Jesus gave us: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28.18-20)

It has, therefore, been a joy and a delight to walk with four mature adult Christians through a time of preparation for their confirmation.
Confirmation marks the completion of the rite of Christian initiation that starts with baptism. Baptism, or Christening, is the service at which promises are made by a person that state their intention to grow as members of the church family into which they are baptised. In the Anglican Church it is most common for the person being baptised to be a babe in arms. The promises are, therefore, made by the baby's parents and godparents.

Confirmation, then, is the service at which the person confirms that the promises made by their parents and godparents are promises which they now wish to make for themselves.

Shortly after the new Bishop of Dorking, Bishop Jo Wells, had taken up her new post, I invited her to come to Leatherhead Parish Church to preside and preach at our main Sunday morning service. I subsequently asked her if she would be prepared to confirm our four adult candidates as part of that service. She very graciously agreed to do so, and the service was a heady mixture of solemnity, spirituality, and joy.

So these candidates have now started out on the next stage of their journey as disciples, to live out the message of God's love for the world he created, and the salvation he offers us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the Good News that we share as Christians, indeed that is what makes us Christians - the unshakeable belief that "those who believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life". Let us rejoice and give thanks ... and pray for the courage to share that Good News with others.

Happy Easter!

Graham Osborne


December 2016

The Rector writes ...

A year of such tragedy - hundreds of refugees drowned, whole towns and villages razed to the ground, whole families murdered in the name of freedom. Hurricanes, earthquakes, storms, floods and droughts.
It is December once again. The end of another full, busy, wonderful, terrifying, roller-coaster of a year.
 
A year of uncertainty and surprise - the lead up to, and the result of, our UK referendum on the European Union. The lead up to, and the result of, the American presidential election. Politicians resigning, much loved personalities dying. Scarcely a month went by without some momentous world event.

But now, here we are again, at the most earth-shattering time of the year. The time when we celebrate the Son of God coming to live amongst us. Us - ordinary people: unworthy, ungrateful, greedy, selfish, unkind, self-centred, thoughtless - every one of us is all of those things from time to time ... and yet, He came to show us how we could and should be. Loving, kind, gentle, unselfish, thoughtful, mindful of our families, neighbours and friends.

As we prepare through Advent for the joyful arrival of Christ our Lord, let us all in this place, at this time, make a conscious effort to rejoice with the shepherds and angels, and share our good news with everyone we meet and with whom come into contact; not just with our gifts but with loving hearts and generosity of spirit.

Pray, not just on Sundays, but every day, for a better world, for wise and discerning leaders and for the strength to do the right thing in every situation, however hard or scary it may seem.

Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you.
And Nicky and I, and Ian, Beverley and Kirk, wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful, Joyful New Year.

Graham Osborne

November 2016

The Rector writes ...

So, we come to November - the month of Remembrance in which we celebrate All Saints and All Souls, and then Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday. We will remember our dear ones whom we love and see no longer as we listen to music and readings at the Service of Memories, and reflect in the silence. And then we hear all those names read out as we light candles.

Then at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month we observe two minutes silence to mark the signing of the Armistice in 1918 and then, on Remembrance Sunday, we see the colours processed in and we make our Act of Remembrance, both in church and at the War Memorial.

In November 2016 we remember the end of the Battle of the Somme that started on July 1, 1916. For most of us this is the battle that epitomises the horrors of warfare, especially in World War I. Between July and November 2016 the British Army suffered 420,000 casualties, including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone, the French lost 200,000 men, and the Germans nearly 500,000. Unsurprisingly, given the heroism shown, 51 Victoria Crosses were won by British soldiers. But 17 of those were awarded posthumously.

And a number of you will have served in, or at least lived through, World War II and your memories will be prompted by Remembrancetide, and especially by the British Legion Poppy Appeal.
It is right and proper that we remember those who served and fell in both the World Wars. But warfare has rarely ceased since VJ day in August 1945. Korea, Kenya, Suez, Vietnam, Aden, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria ... the list seems endless.

We became horrifyingly used to convoys of coffins making their way through what is now Royal Wootton Bassett, and we have seen miles of footage of armed service personnel who have lost limbs to IEDs and our hearts had been gladdened by the work at Headley Court, and the awesome prowess of our Paralympic athletes.

But enduring war wounds are not always visible. The reality of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has taken a long time to be recognised. What was dismissed as "shell shock" in World War I is now understood to be a major invisible wound. I have been privileged to be invited in occasionally to Tyrwhitt House, headquarters of Combat Stress, the armed services mental health charity, where veterans suffering from PTSD receive some wonderful therapies.

But PTSD is not solely a military phenomenon. Members of the emergency services - particularly paramedics, police officers, firefighters - are called daily to deal with horrendous situations ... and the memories of the worst ones do not go away. They come back to haunt and frighten. And it is not only the individuals themselves who suffer, their families and friends do too.

So, at this time of Remembrance, please will you hold in prayer those who have lost their lives, limbs and peace of mind to serve us.

We will remember them ...   

Graham Osborne

July 2016

The Rector writes ...

We are on the brink of a season of new beginnings.

The chances are that, by the time you read this, our new Curate, Ian Stonehouse, will have been ordained Deacon by Bishop Andrew on Sunday 3 July. That, too, will be a new departure as the ordination service will be in the chapel of Charterhouse School, with the cathedral undergoing its own major development project. Ian will take up his Title Post as Curate of Leatherhead and Mickleham by "reading himself in", and I know that we will give Ian, Beverley and Kirk the warmest of welcomes and enfold them in the Lord's family here.

The Diocese gives advice to a new Curate - please see the article [below] headed Serving Your Title.

I was recently reminded that the average amount of work achieved by a Training Incumbent and his or her Curate is not 200% or anything like it - it is more like 100% in the first year of the Title Post, 125% in the second year and 150% in the third! I know that this parish has a lot of experience in living out its own vocation to nurture and develop new Curates. I know, too, that you will all do your best to help Ian and me in this vitally important undertaking.

The PCC has resolved to put its energies into progressing our New Future project, focusing on the first phase - the development of the parish church site. Whilst we will be putting together a campaign that encompasses both the church and the church hall sites, under the keen eye of Martin Cole as the Project Coordinator, the work on the church hall site will await the completion of the work on the church site. More about this in Church Matters. We look forward to the new beginning of the next stage in the life of our parish with a building fit for the 21st Century.

I have recently had the privilege of both taking my younger daughter, Bethany, up the aisle of the parish church as Father of the Bride and then conducting the wedding ceremony as the Rector. We then enjoyed a wonderfully informal, free-flowing reception in Gail and Roger Partridge's garden (many thanks again to them for their love and generosity). A fitting launch of a new life together.
Yours in the living God,

 Graham Osborne

SERVING YOUR TITLE
Advice from the Diocese to new Curates


The purpose of your Title is to enable you to find your feet in parish work, and to translate the training which you have received into the practical realities of parish life. Because the Title is a training post you will be expected to work under the supervision and guidance of your incumbent. Many areas of work will claim your time and attention, among them:
•    the conduct of worship and the occasional offices
•    preaching and teaching
•    the pastoral care of a wide variety of people, including hospital visiting and work in schools and with young people
•    parish administration
•    general involvement in the wider community
•    involvement with the wider Church of England (e.g. Deanery Chapter and Synod), and with other churches' mission and evangelistic enterprises
•    continuing personal study, including the Diocesan programme of continuing Ministerial education
•    attention to your own physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, and that of your family.

How you tackle these areas will be very much for you and your incumbent to decide. It will be important for you both to make time to talk about your work, the practical aspects of it and your feelings about it, so that you gradually gain confidence and expertise.

Some aspects of the job will come easily to you - perhaps they will draw on your previous work experience. But there are bound to be other areas where you feel less confident, or which you find uncongenial. These are the areas to which you will do well to devote special time and attention: there are no "no-go areas" in parish ministry.

The effort of establishing at least a basic competence in all aspects of the job now, will be abundantly rewarded in years to come. But please don't feel that you've got to struggle alone: your incumbent will be there to help you, and beyond him/her there are considerable resources within the diocese which you can call upon at any time.

April 2016

The Rector writes ...

We have just celebrated the culmination of Lent, Holy Week and Easter with a joyful Easter day -f rom striking the new fire in the early morning, and lighting the Easter candle, through a magnificent breakfast and a gentle, said Holy Communion service using the timeless beauty of the Prayer Book language, followed by an explosion of music, song and worship to celebrate the risen Christ.

It seems, therefore, to be a highly appropriate time to witness with confidence to the joyful reality of our Christian faith. Our Diocesan vision is focused on growth - growth in numbers, growth in spiritual maturity and growth in our engagement with our community.

Some of you will have responded to the Common Purpose survey commissioned by Bishop Andrew in the Autumn last year. You may also have attended one of the Deanery events on the health and growth of God's Church in the Diocese - and a chance to listen, reflect and ask questions about the future.

In the course of the recent evening event for the Leatherhead and Dorking Deaneries, some of the responses to the survey were set out as answers to three questions:

where is God already at work and what signs do you see of his kingdom coming?
- children and families
- new forms of worship service and new times
- delivery of support networks - food banks, second-hand children's equipment and clothing, etc.

what is holding back our growth and health and what is God challenging us to change?
1.    lack of confidence to share the gospel
2.    lack of focus on the priority of prayer for growth
3.    financial limitations
4.    lack of youth ministry provision
5.    lack of a clear vision and action plan
6.    clergy time spent on administration
7.    limitations of church buildings

what priorities is God calling us to?
1.    increased investment in the lay ministry and leadership
2.    increased numbers of ordinations
3.    discipleship resources
4.    inter parish cooperation
5.    new churches in new housing developments

It is clear that most parishes perceive the need to be better equipped for their life, work and witness - in terms both of physical space and of mental preparedness.

With our concept plans for the Parish Church and the Parish Church Hall, we are setting out to address the issue of providing physical space that is fit for the 21st Century and, with our daily and weekly worship, our Home Prayer Warriors and our Small Groups, we are seeking to grow as disciples in order to undertake the Great Commission:
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28.18-20)

Happy Easter!

October 2015

The Rector writes ...

It is one of the joys of my life that I am allowed to lead assemblies at Leatherhead Trinity School.

In the nearly six years I have been here, I have seen an amazing improvement in the children's singing.
When I first went into school, the singing was sort of apologetic - as if nobody really wanted to be doing it, and they all thought that it wasn't going to be any good anyway.
What a difference now. Songs are belted out with great gusto, and no little skill, as those of you have heard the Trinity choirs sing in the Swan Centre will know.
They will be doing so again this Christmas - on Saturday 12 December; do make a point of coming along to hear them.

One of my favourite of their songs is "Prayer is like a telephone ... pick it up and use it every day" with accompanying actions and miming.
Most of us find prayer quite hard to do. There is a feeling that you have to be some sort of spiritual giant to "do it properly". Not so. The early church Fathers, not least St Augustine, tell us that the desire to pray is prayer itself. What good news!
Christians proclaim a relational God - a God we can approach and with whom we can build a relationship. But, as with any relationship, we need to spend time in each other's company. Think of those relationships of your own that are deep and rich and nourishing. That is the sort of relationship that Jesus has shown us that God wants with us. St James wrote "Come near to God, and he will come near to you” (James 4.8) So how do we do it?

The most important first step is to carve out some time. Commit to spending a period of time each day (15 minutes? 30 minutes?) just to being in God's presence. Lighting a candle helps to focus. Maybe some favourite music to still down. Then try the "teaspoon" method - in recipes, a teaspoon of something is "tsp" - and just say Thank You,
Sorry and Please, filling in what you have on your heart.

Prayer IS like a telephone, so pick it up and use it every day.

Graham Osborne

June 2015

The Rector writes ...

As the seasons come and go in the cycle of nature, so the church year has its seasons.

We have just celebrated the Easter season, the crowning glory of God's love affair with the world. We have seen once again the affirmation that the love of God is stronger than death and that, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is the promise of eternal life open to all who believe.

In parallel with this, every parish - as with every business - has to go through the process each year of assembling a set of accounts for the financial year and a preparing report from the "board" - the Parochial Church Council or PCC.

Every parish has to do this, as does every Diocese. In our own parish we have just been through the reporting process and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting and Diocesan Audit and Finance Group has been preparing the accounts for the Bishops Council, and then Diocesan Synod, to approve.
It was a delight to welcome our new Bishop, The Rt Revd Andrew Watson, to Leatherhead Deanery a week or so ago. He spent the morning with all the clergy in the Deanery - the Deanery Chapter - and then came back for the evening to St Nicolas, Great Bookham, for a question and answer session and a communion service. Some of you were able to attend.

Bishop Andrew is keen that all of us in the Diocese look again at the Common Purpose that Bishop Christopher took to the Diocesan Synod at Trinity 2009, and to which the Diocese has been committed since. Common Purpose is a vision for growth in three areas: -

•    growing in spiritual maturity o growing in numbers
•    growing in engagement with our communities

Our own areas of mission in this parish map very well onto these three purposes:

•    growing in spiritual maturity

o growing our music in worship in different styles to lift us higher, take us deeper, and draw us nearer to God
o growing as disciples by being or becoming intentionally prayerful, making time to spend in God's presence, and intentionally living out the vision and values that we have embraced as a parish

•    growing in numbers

o focusing on our ministry to children and families with the appointment of a Children and Families Worker

• growing in engaging with our communities

o continuing to support Leatherhead Trinity School and the Leatherhead youth project, who undertake our youth work,
o and especially Allsaints Coffee, the social enterprise company that is already employing four of our town's young people, three of them on an apprenticeship scheme

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Broadly speaking, the Church of England has been doing things pretty much the same way for some time with the result that overall it is in decline. There are churches where there is growth, sometimes spectacular growth, but they are the ones where they have dared to do something different.

We have to do something different. As you know, my philosophy is "as well as, not instead of" so we are focusing on offering new and exciting things for our children and families, and for all young people, and providing warm comfortable flexible worship space for both traditional and modern forms of worship. The project to equip ourselves with buildings fit for the 21st century is taking the time it needs to get it right... but more of this in future months.

As the season of Spring rolls into the season of Summer - Season's Greetings!

Graham Osborne

February 2015

The Rector writes ...

Most seasons in the church year are characterised by particular, very familiar, images - cards, decorations, crosses, poppies, robins, angels, shepherds, daffodils, bunnies, doves - all sorts of visual clues that let us know the season that is upon us.

Lent is different. I suppose it could be characterised by Ash. Ash Wednesday marks the start of the Lenten season, often symbolically marked by the imposition of Ashes during a service of Holy Communion, the ash being the result of burning last year's Palm crosses.

Lent is traditionally 40 days long, echoing the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism. The Gospel accounts tell us that, as soon as he had been baptised, with God's words ringing in his ears "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased", Jesus felt compelled to go out into the wilderness to try and work out just how he should exercise his earthly ministry.

The idea is that Lent is a penitential season in which we examine ourselves to identify those areas where we fall short of the standard Jesus has set by his example. The Lenten convention is that one observes Lent by fasting from something, be that food or drink, television or the Internet. It can also be characterised by picking something up - reading a Lent book, attending a Lent course, being part of a Lent group.

Lent gives us a chance to "mend our ways", to purify ourselves, in preparation for Easter. If you look at a calendar, it is easy to spot that Lent is actually 46 days long - traditionally, the Sundays of Lent are "rest days" - with the fourth Sunday of Lent being known as Refreshment Sunday or Mothering Sunday.

The last two weeks are known as Passiontide, heralded in by Passion Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Lent, then Palm Sunday a week later, which marks the start of Holy Week in which, as far as possible, we remember and re-live the events of the last week of Jesus' earthly life.

The desolation of Good Friday, and the emptiness of Holy Saturday, are gloriously dispelled by the Striking of the New Fire early on Easter Day that signifies the resurrection of Jesus and ushers in the 50 day celebration of Jesus's post-resurrection appearances as we lead up to the church's birthday at Pentecost.

May I wish you a holy, blessed and fruitful Lent.

Graham Osborne

October 2014

The Rector writes

How do we deal with murder? Or manslaughter?

The brutal beheading of David Haines by the self-styled Islamic State follows those of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff and, God forbid, may [Ed. - and did] precede that of Alan Henning.

And a verdict of the culpable homicide, or manslaughter, of his girlfriend has just been passed on Oscar Pistorius who now awaits sentencing.

How are we to respond to such horrific and shocking events? How does the Haines family deal with this tragedy? How do Barry and June Steenkamp deal with something much closer to home?

Jesus taught us that the Old Testament doctrine of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" should be replaced by "love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you". The old way was, in fact, a way of restricting and moderating the degree of vengeance for a wrong done - it was to be a measured, appropriate response of equal severity rather than what had been the norm - often the killing of the perpetrator.

However sad, there is a world of difference between the frightened response of a disabled man to intruders in the middle of the night (if that is what it was) and the cynical, brutal and barbaric murder of three innocent men.

Reeva Steenkamp's mother, June, is concerned with justice; speaking to NBC, she said: "This verdict is not justice for Reeva. I just want the truth." A perfectly understandable need for her daughter to be treated fairly.

To put the Haines atrocity in perspective, we must understand that, whatever the claims, there is no religious justification for such actions -there is merely the cynical pursuit of power. The president of the Islamic Society of Britain, Sughra Ahmed, said: "If someone who commits such evil and such heinous crimes calls themselves the Islamic State, then we need to understand actually that there's nothing Islamic and there's nothing state-like or legal about the work that they're doing."

Whatever vengeful thoughts may be in their minds, the Haines family has shown great moderation. In his statement on behalf of the family, Mike Haines, David's brother, just concentrates on David's life story. He concludes with these words: "David was most alive and enthusiastic in his humanitarian roles. His joy and anticipation for the work he went to do in Syria is for myself and family the most important element of this whole sad affair. He was and is loved by all his family and will be missed."

As Christians, the accepted attitude is "hate the sin, love the sinner". How hard that is when faced with such cynical indifference to the life of another. But it IS possible; it DOES happen. Few of us, I guess, could match the attitude of forgiveness shown by Gordon Wilson, Marie's father, after the Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillin: - "She held my hand tightly, and gripped me as hard as she could. She said, 'Daddy, I love you very much.' Those were her exact words to me, and those were the last words I ever heard her say." To the astonishment of listeners, Wilson went on to add, "But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie. She loved her profession. She was a pet. She's dead. She's in heaven and we shall meet again. I will pray for these men tonight and every night."

Let us, too, try to "pray for these men, tonight and every night."

Graham Osborne

June 2014

The Rector writes

We have just come through two notable seasons.

One of them is absolutely central to the Christian faith - Easter - as it re-tells the story of the last weeks in the life of Jesus Christ, culminating in his Passion, crucifixion, death and Resurrection.Easter is the crowning glory of the love story that is the story of God's creation; an affirmation that God's love is stronger than death and that there is the promise of eternal life for all to claim.

The other season is much more mundane - the season of the Annual Report & Accounts and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM). The annual meeting in is two parts. In the first part every parishioner has a vote to elect the two Churchwardens: Dr Donald Yeates and Mrs Sue Roberts were elected.The second part is just for those on the Electoral Roll of the parish. The meeting receives various reports, elects members of the Parochial Church Council and of the Deanery Synod, and appoints the Sidesmen to serve for the coming year.

The final item gives the Rector the opportunity of thanking all those who have contributed so much to the life of the church over the past year, and of looking ahead to the coming year.At this year's meeting, I set out a 5 Year Focus for our parish - five aspects of our Key Areas of Mission on which I would like us to focus for the next five years. They are these:

Worship
Developing our music in worship, in both traditional and contemporary idioms, aiming for music that lifts us higher, takes us deeper and draws us nearer to God

Growing as Disciples
Being, or becoming, intentionally prayerful, making time to spend in God's presence.
Intentionally living out the Values that we have articulated

Evangelistic Outreach
Focusing specifically on our ministry to children and families

Community Engagement
Supporting the Leatherhead Youth Project (who do our Youth Work) in the exciting new projects they conceive.
Continuing, under new leadership, the Community Market in the Church Hall on a Friday morning

Resources
All of these, and many other aspects of our Mission, require us to have buildings that are fit for the 21st Century
Concept plans have been developed for
- re-ordering the church itself, reclaiming our beautiful mediaeval church whilst taking advantage of modern technology for ecologically-friendly lighting, heating, and audio-visual facilities
- re-developing the church hall to provide an even betterfacility to serve the community of which we are part.

If you are already part of our church family, I do hope that you will do all that you can to contribute to our 5 Year Focus. If you are not yet, we look forward to welcoming you.Compliments of the season!

Graham Osborne

January 2014

The Rector writes ...

As is the way of publishing schedules, magazine articles are written well ahead of publication date.

We are currently fully into the swing of the joyful round of anticipatory Christmas celebrations – trees, tinsel, lights, carol services, carol singing, nativity plays, school fairs, special assemblies, Crib services – all in the middle of the church season of Advent, a time of looking forward to the Second Coming of Jesus.

I do hope that your seasonal celebrations will have been peaceful, joy-filled and lots of fun.

And it’s time to start thinking about our New Year resolutions. When Archbishop Justin Welby spoke at New Wine 2013 he said that the church should focus on three priorities – becoming communities of prayer, seeking reconciliation and making new disciples. Addressing the first of these is what I am encouraging in the church. We have a parish Prayer Diary that contains an entry for each day of the month, with the names of members of the church family, an aspect of the town and a number of roads so that we can pray for those living and working there.

Please consider making it one of your resolutions to get hold of a copy of the Prayer Diary and use it in your prayer life – as well as losing weight, stopping smoking, joining a gym, and being nicer to the dog!!

I heard a lovely story about a nativity play the other day. The cast had behaved beautifully, the play had gone brilliantly, the music had been faultless and the finale was going SO well – the entire cast processing out of the hall down the centre aisle. The angels had led the way, then came the animals, then the shepherds, then the kings and, finally, Mary and Joseph.

The mood was shattered when, halfway down the aisle, Mary said in a piercing wail “Oh ****, I’ve forgotten the baby!”

A cautionary tale. We would all do well not to forget the baby – and all that He means - this Christmas and New Year.

Happy New Year!

Graham Osborne

November 2013

The Rector writes ...

So much to do with Autumn speaks of life shutting down, of hibernation, even of decay. The leaves fall and begin to rot, trees become more and more bare, gardens lose their vibrant colours. BUT, in our parish, there are lots and lots of signs of new life and new beginnings.

We have just had a re-vamped Autumn Fayre, all the wonderful variety of stalls we have come to expect plus a plethora of fun things for the children to do – negotiating an electric maze, playing Hook-a-Duck, making lots of noise in Tin Can Alley, hosing down plastic bottles – such fun! Not only that but the Cake Stall, for example, was awash with cakes and biscuits of all sorts – including Owls and Pussycats.

We are also just a month into our very first Alpha Course – a ten-week exploratory course for enquirers into the Christian faith. About 35 of us gather in the church every Monday evening for a delicious meal – we’ve had lasagne, sausages and onions, shepherd’s pie and curry so far (not all at once!) – sit down together to watch a very entertaining talk on DVD and then get into small groups to chew over what we have heard. Topics such as Who is Jesus? Why Did Jesus Die? and How and Why Should I Pray? give us some high fibre material to get our teeth into.

And then we have our new website: www.leatherheadparish.com in the very capable hands of our Webmaster, Julian Rickard. Please do have a wander around the pages and let us know whether it gives you what you need to know, how easy it is find what you are after, and how we might improve it. Our History website, to which you can link direct from the new website, will continue to be maintained and developed by our new Archivist, Frank Haslam.

With the retirement of our Inspecting Architect, David Jewel, after having completed our latest Quinquennial Inspection and Report, we have had to undertake a selection process to find and appoint a new one (churches are not permitted to be without an Inspecting Architect). Donald Yeates conducted an extensive research project to whittle the candidates down to a shortlist of three, from which we finally selected one to whom we offered the position. I am delighted to say that he accepted with alacrity. He is John Bailey, a partner in Thomas Ford & Partners, Chartered Architects and Surveyors, based in Sydenham. John is also the Inspecting Architect for Guildford Cathedral, so we are in exalted company (or is it the Dean and Chapter who are?)

And the final new beginning that we can celebrate is the appointment of the new Archdeacon of Dorking. He is The Revd Paul Bryer, currently Vicar of St Paul’s, Dorking and Rural Dean of the Dorking Deanery. Before he was ordained Paul taught Religious Studies at Therfield School here in Leatherhead, so we can celebrate some close links, both geographical and historical. We wish him every blessing in his new appointment.

Isn’t God amazing? As it so aptly says in Revelation 21.5 “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new!’“ What a splendid way to start an Autumn.

Yours in Him,

Graham Osborne

August 2013

The Rector writes …

As this month of August gets under way, there will be a number of people still looking forward to their holidays. Those not tied to school holidays may well already be looking backwards.

Whichever way you may be looking, you might like to join me in pondering about holidays. Literally “holy days”, my dictionary defines a holiday as “a period in which a break is taken from work or studies for rest, travel, or recreation”. Rest, travel and recreation - don’t they sound a good combination?

Travel may or not figure in our holidays, but I guess that, for most of us, “rest” on a holiday means not doing what we would normally be doing. Not only that but it also means the gaps in between doing recreational things - which might be doing all sorts of things that we wouldn’t normally dream of doing like abseiling, paragliding or bungee-jumping - but it probably means gentler things like sightseeing, browsing round deliciously unfamiliar places or simply soaking up the sun (or [sigh] dodging the raindrops).

Those are what are normally thought of as “recreation”, things done at special times - out of working hours, at evenings and weekends or on holiday. But rest and recreation are not just for special times, they are for all times.

Jesus talked about rest, a very particular kind of rest: “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28-29)

What a wonderful image that phrase “rest for your souls” conjures up - tranquillity, calmness, peace – that very special quality encapsulated in the Hebrew word Shalom. And what a wonderful promise - that if we enlist in Christ’s service, willingly submitting to his yoke, we will know his peace, we will know our soul’s ease.

And if you spell “recreation” slightly differently, “re-creation”, a whole new meaning unfolds. Re-creation, being created anew, is at the heart of the Gospel message. There has to be repentance, for sure, before anything can happen; a turning back, a recognition that we are not doing things the way God would have us do them, not putting others and their interests before ourselves and our own interests.

But if that does happen, if we do repent, if we do begin to realise that there is another way of being, a new way of living in the way that Jesus showed us, then we have the chance of being a whole new creation. As St Paul told the Corinthians “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17)

So if you have already had your holiday, I hope you had a splendid time. If you still plan to go but haven’t yet, I hope you will have a splendid time. If you have decided that a holiday is not on, I hope you enjoy staying just where you are.

Whatever your situation in the holiday stakes, I do hope that you will take a long look at the other possibilities of rest and re-creation - and that you will relish being rested, refreshed and renewed.

Graham Osborne

May 2013

The Rector writes …

By one of those interesting coincidences, the ceremonial funeral of Baroness Thatcher, with full military honours, was held in St Paul's Cathedral on the same day that we held our Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM).

Great affairs of state were laid aside for a while and world, international and national leaders assembled to honour an extraordinary life lived on the world's stage, whilst a grieving family mourned the loss of a mother and grandmother. May she rest in peace.

At a funeral, one looks back on the life that has been, carries out the essential function of the occasion and looks ahead to the time to come. So it is with an APCM - we look back on the past year, transact the business of the meeting and look ahead to the year to come. In my review of the year, the highlights included:

Kuhan's ordination as priest and subsequent celebratory lunch.
The Summer Celebration in Gail and Roger's back garden.
Church family baptisms.
The Diamond Jubilee "bring and share" lunch.
Leatherhead Youth Project's (LYP) 7th Birthday party and its success in ministering to the Young People of Leatherhead - about 250 young people attend LYP each week (40-50 per day).
The Olympic Road Cycle Races on the weekend of 28-29 July which had engendered a wonderful community spirit and had encouraged about 500 people to visit the Church or Church Hall for refreshments or to watch the race on the big screen.
The Heritage Days and the wonderful flower arrangement.
The packed Church for the wedding of Poppy Stagg and Phil Goulding.
The second anniversary of Messy Church.
The hand-over of All Saints Church to LYP on 4 November.
The celebration of the ministry of David Ireland.
The Growing Leaders course being attended by 5 of our home group leaders.
The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, with the candles, LYP lighting rigs, and refreshments (people stayed for hours!).
The MVDC Chair's Carolfest.
The churches' contribution to the Town Centre Christmas Celebrations -the choirs, LYP band, Messy Church etc.
Christingle service and Crib service.
The appointment of Gina Eason as Organist and Choir Director.
The wedding of James Waters and Helen Warren.
The opening of All Saints Coffee - attended by the Chairs of SCC and MVDC and a number of Councillors
The appointment of Malcolm Raby as House For Duty priest at Mickleham.
Matthew Waters taking over as editor of the parish magazine
Trinity School's OFSTED assessment as a "Good" school.
The Burns' Night supper, especially the haggis.
The bonfire party at the Churchyard rubbish heap.
The Friends' Quiz Night and their generous donation.
Archdeacon Julian Henderson's appointment as Bishop of Blackburn
The Values Day.

After the business of the meeting - reports, accounts and elections - we looked ahead to the year to come by our Key Areas of Mission:

Worship
Development of the choir under Gina's guidance
Growing as Disciples
House Groups growing after the Lent Course
Alpha course - aiming for a public course in the Autumn Term
Evangelistic Outreach/Community Engagement
New Headteacher at Leatherhead Trinity School
The continued success of LYP
The "Jubilate" flower, music, art and social festival 10 to 16 June
The re-vamped Autumn Fayre
Resources
A Vision and Values Statement arising out of the Values Day
Our new website
Our New Future, with the Architect's concept drawings due to be presented to the PCC on 22 May
PCC Training days
Ecumenical Links
Ian Howarth's departure and Lynda Russell's arrival.

We thanked Linda Hauxwell, standing down as Churchwarden, and John Hampton, standing down as Convenor of the Resources Key Area Working Group, together with all those who give so selflessly of their time in serving the church family here in Leatherhead. Many thanks again.

Graham Osborne

February 2013

The Rector writes

Ash Wednesday this year is 13th February - a matter of days away - and, as we know, is the day after Shrove Tuesday.

For those of you of a philological bent, "shrove" is the past tense of the verb "shrive" and to shrive someone was to grant them absolution. Shrove Tuesday was traditionally the last day of Shrovetide, when those preparing for the Lenten fast would make their confession and seek absolution.

As Lent was a time of fasting, the custom developed of using up all the rich foods in the larder so that only the penitential foods would be consumed during the fasting time - only food sufficient to maintain one's strength. In particular, the practice of abstention from meat, dairy and eggs during times of fasting developed. Milk, eggs and flour would be used to make pancakes and a period of feasting and revelry would precede the fast - a time of Carnival (from the Latin carna vale - "farewell meat").

Lent is intended to be a time of fasting, reflection and self-examination in preparation for the joy of Easter.

When I worked in Bristol, I used to live in Clifton, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge was a feature of my daily life. That bridge, with its two magnificent towers and the curve of its suspension cables became for me a graphic representation of the progression of our Christian faith - the journey from the highs of Christmas, through the lows of the highs of Easter.

I wish you a reflective Lenten journey.

Graham Osborne

January 2013

The Rector writes

As we emerge from yet another season of carol services, carol singing, nativity plays, Crib services, trees, tinsel and lights, it would be good to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas - the reality that God became human to show us what love means - the sort of love that He has for us, and longs for us to have for one another and for Him.

Love used to be the distinctive mark of a Christian. The famous quote from the second century North African theologian, Tertullian, sums it up - "'Look," they say, "how they love one another" (for they themselves hate one another); "and how they are ready to die for each other' (for they themselves are readier to kill each other)" -usually quoted as 'See how [these Christians] love one another.' (Apologeticum 39,7)

The New Testament reading for the last Sunday of 2012 was Colossians 3.12-17. It is a chapter in which St Paul is yet again stressing the effect of the transforming power of Jesus' death and resurrection - that we die to our former selves and rise to be new creations. He spells out what he means in no uncertain terms. Get rid of the old ways: -
"5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."

and put on the new:

"12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. "

Over this recent Christmas period, we have experienced a wide range of loving and inclusive worship, outreach to the town and fellowship events. After one of our services, one lady told me that it was her first time at our church and that she would certainly be coming again.

There is nothing more compelling than a warm, welcoming and loving church. Let's try and continue our "Christmas spirit", so that what Tertullian said of the North African church in the second century is said of the church in Leatherhead in 2013 - "see how they love one another".

Happy New Year!

Graham Osborne

November 2012

The Rector writes

November is the month when we most particularly think of, and remember, our loved ones who have died and we see no longer. It is the month that engenders feelings of loss and bereavement almost more than any other and, with the shops all filling up with Christmas goods, the sadness and heartbreak of being without our nearest and dearest at this time of year - perhaps for the first time - can be overwhelming.

And we must not underestimate the feelings of bereavement that can be caused by losses other than death. The people of Mickleham will be feeling bereaved by the retirement of their much loved Parish Priest, David, and, although he and Angela will be living in the village, their role will have changed and the parishioners will no longer be in their particular care, nor have unlimited access to them. We hold them all in our thoughts and prayers as they and I discern who is called to take them forward in their spiritual life.

For David, too, there will be feelings of loss. The loss of regularly celebrating the Eucharist at his own altar, the loss of being one of the first to know when somebody is in trouble, the loss of being one of the first to know when someone has good news to share. I have greatly valued the time I have shared with David, not least because of his wisdom, experience and humour.

Bereavement can affect us in so many different ways. Some need to talk and share their pain. Others need to be allowed to keep it private and hidden. There is no right or wrong way to deal with loss. No formula to make everything better in a certain timeframe. Grief is intensely personal, and it takes as long as it takes. As Christians, we have the comfort of knowing that both we and the loved one we see no longer are held in God's loving arms - "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deut. 33.27

In this parish we have an All Souls service on Friday 2nd November at 6.30pm. This is a quiet and reflective time to bring our loved ones to mind and hold them in the love of God. We also have our Remembrance Day service on Sunday November 11th, when we remember all those lost in war.

I do hope we can find comfort in the words of Jesus:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14.27

Graham Osborne

September 2012

The Rector writes - London 2012 - Inspire a generation

I wonder how many of us approached the start of the Olympic Games 2012 with some apprehension. Were the venues actually going to be complete on time? Were there going to be security alerts and terrorist threats? How embarrassing was the Opening Ceremony going to be? How could we possibly match the splendour of Beijing?

We needn’t have worried. As someone observed to me “While Beijing was all head, London was all heart”.

It was a triumph from the start. The Opening Ceremony took the breath away – England’s rural idyll giving way to the Industrial Revolution, with Isambard Kingdom Brunel in all his pomp, and chimneys growing up out of nowhere; a paean of praise to the NHS and then the forging of the Olympic Rings; the procession of athletes country by country, each accompanied by a peculiar copper vase; and then David Beckham on the boat bringing the Torch up the Thames, Sir Steve Redgrave carrying it into the stadium, the seven young “athletes of tomorrow” lighting the flame and that awesome sculpture made up of those peculiar copper vases rising up to create the Olympic Flame. Oh wow!

And then the weekend! We opened our Church Hall to any and everybody – free refreshments, use of loos and TV coverage of the Road Race. Good natured crowds making their way down to the Givons Grove roundabout and lining the barriers outside the church. The excitement of watching the race unfolding as the riders tackled the Box Hill zig-zags. The awe and wonder of the riders streaming up Gimcrack Hill and past the church. The bells ringing out as they passed (despite the Tenor bell clapper shearing in half during the ring). Then the crowds crammed into the Hall to watch the end of the race. What a sense of unity, friendship and common purpose.

And then the Games unfolded. What a kaledioscope of memories – Katherine Grainger finally winning Gold, David Rudisha’s World Record, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Super Saturday with Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah going Gold, Nicola Adams with the first ever Womens Boxing Gold Medal, Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton ... the list goes on and on.

17 days of pure joy … and crushing pain.

And then the Closing Ceremony with its eclectic mix of styles, riot of colours and the handing on of the flag to Rio de Janeiro.

It has been dubbed the “happy and glorious” Games with high hopes for sustainability and a lasting legacy. A friend who was a Gamesmaker – and will be again for the Paralympics – remarked that she couldn’t travel anywhere in her uniform without people engaging her in friendly conversation.

I hope and pray that the legacy of the Games here in Leatherhead will be an ongoing feeling of unity, friendship and common purpose. London 2012 set out to “inspire a generation”. As Christians, we have Good News that has inspired generations over two millenia. Let us not drop the baton.

Enjoy the next instalment!
Graham Osborne

June 2012
The Rector writes

As you may know, we have just started our new worship pattern.

In beginning to address the ambitions set out in the Parish Profile’s Statement of Needs, the Vision Process meeting in May 2010 saw nearly ninety members of the church family agree a Vision Statement – Leatherhead Parish – Growing Disciples of Jesus Christ – and group our Mission aspirations into seven Key Areas. The first of these was Worship.

We decided to address one of the key ambitions in the Statement of Needs – “support existing traditional services alongside the continuing development of contemporary worship styles and more accessible services” - by starting an experimental worship pattern from 1st October 2010. This pattern offered three services every Sunday morning - a quiet, reflective Prayer Book Communion, followed by an informal worship style, with a worship band and contemporary worship songs, and a formal Eucharist with organ and hymns, with coffee between the two later services. We first tried the formal service as the later service, then swapped round after seven months.

We discovered that offering both traditional and contemporary worship styles every week saw the total Sunday attendance increase by over 30%, so there was clearly a desire for both styles every Sunday.

We had committed to a 12-month experimental period so, in December 2011, we issued a survey questionnaire to find out how people had found the experimental pattern. The key survey results showed that:

• The congregations (and, therefore, the church) are perceived as divided
• There is a yearning for a more cohesive church, worshipping together, at least monthly
• There is a strong desire for “Family” worship, at least monthly
• There is a significant number of people who are nourished by Informal Worship
• Everybody wants to have their style of service at 10am or 10.30am on a Sunday!

The Worship Key Area Working Group then set about trying to find a worship pattern that satisfied as many desires and aspirations as possible.

After over 100 person-hours of prayerful reflection and discussion, the new pattern emerged - a quiet, reflective Prayer Book Communion at 8am, a Parish Communion with organ and hymns at 10.30am (All Ages on the fourth Sunday of the month), with coffee in church afterwards, then a service in an informal worship style - thesixthirty - with Bible Study, a worship band and contemporary worship songs, in the evening at 6.30pm, with refreshments afterwards. These will be offered every Sunday; on a fourth Sunday, there will be Evensong in the Parish Church with the informal New Fire service at Leatherhead Methodist Church. The PCC resolved to introduce this pattern from 6 May 2012.

We have now enjoyed two Sundays in the new pattern, and the response has thus far been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to a vibrant new future – do come and join us.

May 2012
The Rector writes

I have been reminded that this month marks the tenth anniversary of the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – on 9th April 2002.

It has struck me that the most appropriate season for new resolutions is not New Year, but Eastertide, the season of resurrection, of new beginnings. I wonder if we could start a new tradition of Easter Resolutions?

On Maundy Thursday we heard again the words of Jesus as he gives his disciples a new commandment. As you may know, “Maundy” is derived from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the famous verse John 13.34 "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you").

So, are we to take this mandate from our Lord and Saviour seriously? Are we prepared actually to love one another, as he has loved us? Not the misty-eyed glow of romantic love, but the clear-eyed exercise of will entailed in Christian love?

My old tennis coach always used to prepare me for matches with the words “play nicely”. And could we resolve to “play nicely”? Thinking the best of people, instead of automatically assuming the worst? Biting back the cutting comment and counting - at least to three - before saying anything?

Go back to your childhood and remember. Remember Thumper in Bambi - hands behind his back and squirming awkwardly “if you cain’t say nuthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all”. Remember the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you; treat people as you would like to be treated. And remember Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby in The Water Babies.

I was recently introduced to a book that encapsulates some deep wisdom – written by Robert Fulghum, it is entitled All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten and he writes this in the first section, that he entitles Credo:

“ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpit at Sunday School. These are the things that I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

Amen to that.

April 2012
The Rector writes

I have been reminded that this month marks the tenth anniversary of the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – on 9th April 2002.

When someone dies who has reached the age of 101, as the Queen Mother did on Holy Saturday - the Eve of Easter - there can be no sense of tragedy; no feeling of a life cut short. What there can, and should, be is feeling of thanksgiving for a life lived to the full, a sense of celebration of all that has been given and enjoyed over the years.

There can have been little such thanksgiving and celebration on that first Holy Saturday. The day before, a great leader, teacher, healer, friend had been put to death in the most barbaric way, a way reserved for the lowest of the low.

The freedom of this man Jesus Bar-Joseph - the compassionate, servant-hearted proclaimer of God's abounding love for his creation - had been offered by Pontius Pilate head-to-head with that of Jesus Bar-Abbas - the lawless, murdering terrorist … and the murderer had won the crowd's vote.

Some of the disciples - almost exclusively the women - had loyally stayed with Jesus as he hung on the cross, naked and pierced, and as his life ebbed away. Only "the beloved disciple" among the men had the courage to be there too. It was into his care that Jesus committed his mother in his last moments of life.

And it was some of those women who followed Joseph of Arimathea as he hurriedly led the way to his own new and unused tomb in the garden in order to get the burial completed before sundown on the eve of that Sabbath. It was they who saw the body of Jesus laid in that tomb, wrapped in cloths but not treated with spices as was the custom. So it was they who made their way back to that tomb at dawn after that Sabbath to perform that last service.

It was they who saw and heard the stunning fact of the empty tomb. It was they who met the risen Christ and took the news back to Peter and the other disciples - the glorious news of the Resurrection.

On the night of Easter Eve 2002, Radio 4 broadcast a programme by Colin Semper. Among other things, he said

‘I spoke a few minutes ago about the Queen Mother’s reticence about her Christian faith and belief. She wrote about precisely this in a foreword to a Spiritual anthology of substantial proportions collected by her lady in waiting Lady Elizabeth Basset: "For many of us”, she wrote “it is difficult to convey at all clearly the faith and hope that is in us. I am sure that those who read this anthology will find expressed, what in our hearts we believe, but find so hard to say”. She wrote of “Having our lives rooted in truths that do not change”

‘So it is right I think, as we celebrate a life, as we remember those who mourn her, especially her own family, that we should reflect on those truths which without any doubt the Queen Mother knew not least from her very regular Church going.'

'So the Christian belief is that God brings back to life not some disembodied echo of a human being but of a new and revised version of what in the case of the Queen Mother made her special - her personality - the way she looked, her laughter, her capacity for loving, and in some way in some sense her face.'

That is the Good News we share as Christians, indeed that is what makes us Christians - the unshakeable belief that "those who believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life". Let us rejoice and give thanks … and pray for the courage to share that Good News with others.

Happy Easter!

March 2012
The Rector writes ...

In 2 Corinthians 12, St Paul wrote about the paradox of strength in weakness. You may remember that Paul had been granted wonderful visions and revelations of heaven, but that his feet were kept on the ground by his “thorn in the flesh”. When he pleaded with God three times to be rid of his “thorn”, God’s response was this – 9 But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a salutary experience it has been to be physically incapacitated once again. It is fourteen years since I had a hip replacement, and five weeks since I had a new knee - and what fun it has been discovering just how many of the church family are also bionic! I guess we will have to be careful if those of us with internal metalwork fly El Al on the next parish pilgrimage – their scanners may be rather more sensitive than most.

When I went into hospital on 12 January, I was determined that I would continue to “say my prayers”, so each night and morning I said the Daily Office in my hospital bed. As you may know, Morning Prayer is said daily in the parish on an Ecumenical basis – Mondays in the Parish Church, Tuesdays at LMC, Wednesdays at The Theatre, Thursdays at Christ Church URC and a Friday Eucharist in the Parish Church, attended by a faithful band of prayer warriors . Kuhan and I say Evening Prayer together, usually at All Saints, each weekday evening (other than our Day Off on Tuesday), and we say Morning Prayer together on a Saturday, again at All Saints.

This daily rhythm of prayer – praying for a safe night and giving thanks in the morning – has been the practice of the church for centuries. The Anglican Daily Office is based on the monastic daily prayer cycle and allows us to become immersed in God’s Word – prayers and Canticles from Scripture, and readings from both Old and New Testaments and the Psalms.

My own preference for Lent is to take up something rather than give up something – this year I am committed to reading the whole Bible in a year.

If you would also like to take up something, and it has not been your practice to pray the Daily Office, I do commend it to you as a Lenten discipline. If you prefer books, the Common Worship Daily Office is for you - combined with a Common Worship Lectionary to tell you what the day’s readings are. If you are “net-savvy”, the complete Daily Office is available online at: http://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/join-us-in-daily-prayer.aspx or, if you have an iPhone or iPad, or an Android mobile phone or tablet, connected to a network, there is an application you can access that has everything you need.

May I wish you a reflective, thoughful and prayerful Lent.

Graham Osborne

February 2012: The Curate writes: Rev Dr Kuhan Satkunanayagam
January 2012: The Reader writes: Mrs Gail Partidge

December 2011
The Rector writes ...

I had one of those sharply-etched memory moments the other day. A friend of mine was recounting the awesome experience of his first sight of the Sea of Galilee. The wonder of seeing - for real - the site of so many of the key events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

I was immediately taken back to my own experience of Galilee. On that particular Sunday, some of our party of pilgrims had got up at 4 o'clock in the morning to watch the sunrise. As we waited in the pre-dawn darkness, we all had our eyes fixed on the Golan heights, across the lake from our hotel in Tiberias. Slowly, slowly, the sun began to peep over the hills and then - suddenly - a shaft of golden light shone out across the face of the water and, with a thrill of wonder, realised that Jesus himself would have been all too familiar with the self-same sight. That was only the start of the day.

The journey across the lake in a wooden boat with its mast in the shape of a cross, the stop in the middle of the lake, and the almost tangible stillness are a whole story in themselves. Some of you will no doubt have similar memories.

My memories go on to the boat's destination near Capernaum and the journey to the church of Mensa Christi - the table of Christ - at Tabgha. It was there that my then Vicar and I baptised my friend Harriet, by threefold total immersion, just off the beach where Jesus served breakfast to his disciples in John 21. The beach is at the northern end of the lake, just where the Jordan River flows into the lake - the same Jordan River in which Jesus himself was baptised by John the Baptist.

These memories have been vividly recalled by that conversation with my friend, now at the start of Advent with Christmas not far ahead. Once more, we will re-tell the story of the growing conviction within the Children of Israel that a Messiah was really coming. We will re-tell the story of the annunciation to Mary and the journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the census. We will re-tell the story of the manger in the stable at Bethlehem and the birth of the Light of the World.

Re-telling these stories will bring to vivid life the arid expanse of the Judaean wilderness, the awesome Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth with its great bronze doors and their bas-relief pictures, the teeming life of Jerusalem around the vastness of the Wailing Wall, the last remaining memory of the magnificent Temple.

I wonder what Manger Square in Bethlehem is like in the current troubled times? It felt dangerous then, ringed around by Tourist Police. But that could not detract from the vastness of the Church of the Nativity and the contrasting smallness of the winding descent to the oh-so-small marble pavement with its silver star around a hole. A hole through which one can feel the rock beneath - the rock where the manger stood.

I have in my memory a picture of the twenty-one pilgrims in our party in the long, low, narrow space in front of that marble pavement. I can hear the story of Jesus’ birth being read to us. And I can remember my disappointment - and the jostling and manoeuvring as we tried to make room - when another group of pilgrims, fifty or sixty strong, came down the stairs to join us.

But I can also recall, with absolute clarity, what it felt like as we asked the other party if they minded if we sang. And what it felt like as they joined in and started singing with us; singing O Little Town of Bethlehem, in full four-part harmony, in the very place where it all happened.

I do know how lucky I am to have been able to go to the Holy Land - to see all those places for myself, to live through all those amazing experiences, to walk in the footsteps of my Master. I do realise that not many people will have had that chance … but I do hope that, as you read these words, as you hear the stories as they are re-told, as you sing the Christmas carols … you too will be able to imagine the reality of those events long ago, and give thanks for the coming of God Incarnate.

May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and blessed New Year.

November 2011: Rev Dr Kuhan Satkunanayagam
October 2011: Rev Mike Stewart

September 2011
Farewell Mike and Godspeed

Rev Graham Osborne writes:

The image of the Christian life as a journey is one that can be over-used. On this occasion, I think it most appropriate. We have just welcomed Kuhan as our new Curate to continue his training as an ordained minister. The training period for someone offering for ordination is typically six or seven years from a recommendation for training by BAP (the Bishops' Advisory Panel on Selection for Training for Ordained Ministry, to give it its full title). Once recommended for training, an ordinand (one who is offering for ordination) undertakes a course of study that will include theology, doctrine, church history, mission and ministry. This will either be part-time and non-residential or full-time and residential. The three Curate colleagues with whom I have had the privilege of serving here have covered almost all the options!

Provided that the Bishop accepts the course or college recommendation of a candidate for ordination, the ordinand is then ordained Deacon to a parish to "serve their title" (in their "Title Parish") for between three and four years. If the Deacon is then recommended for ordination as a Priest, this will typically happen after a year in the parish.

As an aside, there are three Orders of Ministry – Deacon, Priest and Bishop – with a distinct ordination or consecration into each order. The jobs that a Deacon, Priest or Bishop may do are many and varied, from Chaplaincy in the Armed Forces, Industry, School, College or University through various forms of parish ministry, to all sorts of teaching, or indeed continuing with secular employment (unusual for a Bishop!). Whatever they move on to, all ordinands complete a period of training in their Title Parish.

We said our goodbyes to Mary last January as she completed her training and moved on to pastures new. Mike will complete his four years in his Title Parish of Leatherhead and Mickleham at the end of September, so it is now time to say "farewell and Godspeed".

We have been privileged to have benefitted from Mike's considerable scholarship in his preaching and teaching. His love of traditional liturgy, and his musical (and acting) talents have also given us great joy. The contribution of both Mike and Carol to the Choir and to our Children's work has been much appreciated, not to mention Mike's wisdom in financial matters from his former life as a Chartered Accountant.

The life of an ordained minister is essentially a peripatetic one – we only serve in any one place for a period of time before moving on to whatever next the Lord has in store for us.

I know that you will join me in wishing Mike well in the next stage of his journey as he leaves with our love and prayers.

July 2011
Vocation

"Vocation" - what a wonderfully rich word that is. It is all too often interpreted in a very limited way - as a calling to the ordained ministry. Calling - yes; ordained ministry - only sometimes.

We have recently elected John Hampton and Linda Hauxwell as our Churchwardens - now there's a vocation if ever there was one. And Donald Yeates has joined Martin Cole and Sheila Sutherland as Assistant Churchwardens. Their combined life experience, and their individual gifts and skills, will be invaluable as we continue on our journey to grow into the church we aspire to be.

Graham Davies's vocation is to a music ministry. Graham has recently joined us as our new Organist and Choirmaster, having held a number of similar posts as well as teaching and performing. He comes with a sense of calling to a ministry that seeks to discern, grow and develop the musical talents of our congregation and use our musical resources to the full. He also shares my excitement at the possibilities there are for taking our music to new heights in our worship.

The culmination of Kuhan Satkunanayagam's journey in response to his calling to the ordained ministry will be on Sunday 3rd July. He and his fellow ordinands will be ordained Deacon by Bishop Christopher in Guildford Cathedral. Kuhan will then take up his Title Post as Curate of Leatherhead and Mickleham, and I know that we will give Kuhan, Christine and Theo the warmest of welcomes and enfold them in the Lord's family here.

The Diocese gives the following advice to a new Curate:

"SERVING YOUR TITLE
The purpose of your Title is to enable you to find your feet in parish work, and to translate the training which you have received into the practical realities of parish life. Because the Title is a training post you will be expected to work under the supervision and guidance of your incumbent.

Many areas of work will claim your time and attention, among them:
• the conduct of worship and the occasional offices
• preaching and teaching
• the pastoral care of a wide variety of people, including hospital visiting and work in schools & with young people
• parish administration
• general involvement in the wider community
• involvement with the wider Church of England (e.g. Deanery Chapter and Synod), and with other churches' mission and evangelistic enterprises
• continuing personal study, including the Diocesan programme of Continuing Ministerial Education
• attention to your own physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, and that of your family. How you tackle these areas will be very much for you and your incumbent to decide. It will be important for you both to make time to talk about your work, the practical aspects of it and your feelings about it, so that you gradually gain confidence and expertise.

Some aspects of the job will come easily to you – perhaps they will draw on you, previous work experience. But there arE bound to be other areas where you fee less confident, or which you finc uncongenial. These are the areas to which you will do well to devote special time and attention: there are no "no-go areas" in parish ministry.

The effort of establishing at least a basic competence in all aspects of the job now, will be abundantly rewarded in years to come. But please don't feel that you've got to struggle alone: your incumbent will be there to help you, and beyond him/her there are considerable resources within the diocese which you can call upon at any time."

My Spiritual Director recently reminded me that the average amount of work achieved by a Training Incumbent and his or her Curate is not 200% or anything like it – it is more like 100% in the first year of the Title Post, 125% in the second year and 150% in the third! I know that this parish has a lot of experience in living out its own vocation to nurture and develop new Curates – the parish has had a number of Curates over the years. I know, too, that you will all do your best to help Kuhan and me in this vitally important undertaking.

As ever, I trust that you will all be holding in your prayers all of these Christian disciples, from many and varied walks of life, as they seek to use their God-given talents in living out their vocations in response to God's call on their lives.

Yours in the living God

June 2011
Looking Forwards

Isn’t it good to have the opportunity to reflect on a past year? It is the season of the Annual Report and Accounts and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) – a time for reflecting on the calendar year just passed, receiving formal reports from various Officers, and for electing Churchwardens and PCC members.

This year marks a change of Churchwarden – Navin Mehta retires as warden after four years’ service. Our grateful thanks go to him for all the work he has done – a lot of it unseen and unsung. He has been a great source of wisdom and help for me personally, and I hope that he will savour and enjoy the gifts that we presented to him. I am delighted to say that John Hampton allowed himself to be nominated to join Linda Hauxwell as our new Churchwarden. I am delighted to record that Sheila Sutherland and Martin Cole are happy to continue to act as Assistant Churchwardens, and they have been joined by Donald Yeates, thereby further strengthening our Wardens team.

Our PCC members retire in rotation once they have served three years. This year, four members retired – Alison Draper and Anne Warren did not stand for re-election, so we thank them for the valuable contributions they have made to the life of our church family; Anne Thomson, Alan Fleming and Edith Wright have offered to continue as Secretary, Treasurer and Child Protection Officer respectively, so we record our thanks for all that they have done, and now will continue to do, in the service of our Lord.

Andrew Chastney, Roger Lynch and Sheila Cole have represented our parish on Deanery Synod over the past year. Andrew has decided not to stand again, but to concentrate on his very valuable contributions as one of our Small Group Leaders and as our Bible Society representative. Our thanks go to them for their willingness to serve.

The Annual Report and Accounts essentially look backwards, but one of the most rewarding aspects of the APCM is that it gives us an opportunity to look forwards. It looks like an exciting year:

and finally …
… none of these will be of much value if our own journeys of discipleship are not progressing. At whatever stage we are, there is growth to be enjoyed – in Bible Study, in prayer and worship, in understanding what our Lord has done for us, why, and what difference that makes to our own lives. I am convinced that this sort of growth is best nurtured in small groups – places where we can feel safe, free to ask questions, free to be who we really are. Please try and find a suitable small group … and join in the fun!

Here’s to a joyful and blessed Pentecost!

May 2011
God so loved the world …

The Gospel reading for the Second Sunday in Lent was John 3.1-17. This passage tells the story of a night-time visit to Jesus by one of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, and contains two well-known bits - the phrase "born again" and what is probably the most famous Bible verse in the world, John 3.16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

Those of you who have had time on your hands in a hospital bed, a hotel room or anywhere else you might find one, may have leafed through a Gideon Bible. One Bible that I found had page after page of the verse John 3.16 in more languages than I could name - Gujurati, Tamil, Sri Lankan, not to mention Latvian, Russian and Greek, even Pidgin English. It is claimed that John 3.16 is the most translated verse in the Bible, even where there is no full version of the Bible text as yet. Given a little thought, it is easy to understand why.

This verse encapsulates virtually the whole of the message of the Bible:

God loves the world - a message that runs throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, what Christians know as the Old Testament. That Testament attests to the first covenant agreement - God's deal with the Hebrews to be his special people. The idea was that the Hebrews would make known to the whole world that God had created the world, had set out some simple rules for living as He wants us to and, by living it, by following those rules of love and mutual respect, show what it would be like to live in a loving relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, being all too human, those who were guardians of that agreement got rather bound up in the legalities of the rules and regulations. By doing so, they got into a mindset that focused on observing the letter of the Law, rather than its spirit.

To show what He had meant it to be like, God sent his son, Jesus, to show by example what the message really was. By preaching, teaching and healing - and by living out - those Kingdom values enshrined in the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus became the Way, the Truth and the Life.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

And when Nicodemus, the faithful follower of the Law, comes to Jesus in the dark to ask what he really means, Jesus flummoxes him with this conundrum about being "born again" or "born from above" (the Greek can mean either). The message is the same, however. In physical birth (and in John's baptism by water) we are given new life in water. In spiritual birth, we are given new life by the Holy Spirit.

I guess it is quite hard to resist being born; it is quite easy as an adult to resist being baptised, either by water or by the Spirit. A number of people I know are absolutely determined that the Holy Spirit is not going to get them. Unfortunately, many of us will have experienced, or read stories about, "born again Christians" being really quite unbearable with their insistence that they have the only answer.

Canon Robert Warren told me about a session he was running with a group of church leaders. He had asked them which verse of Scripture motivated their church. The leader of a very successful, fast-growing Evangelical church was looking rather worried. When Robert asked him whether he was having difficulty finding one, he replied "Oh, no. Our Scripture is John 8.31-32 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." The only trouble is that the interpretation we live by actually ends … and the truth shall make you right. We have a lot of work to do!"

The Holy Spirit works in different ways in different people. I hope that you have been able to use the Lent just passed as a time to prepare to let

God work in you as he wants to. As Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane "yet not my will but yours be done".
As we continue to celebrate this Easter season, and strive to discern God’s call to us as His church in this place at this time, we could do worse than reflect on our own responses to the Lord’s call on us. We are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ - the corner-stone on which God is building His church here in Leatherhead.

We have just celebrated the amazing events of Easter. If you have travelled through Passiontide, Holy Week and Easter with us, you will have re-heard the story of that first Easter once more. History attests to the existence of an itinerant preacher, teacher and healer from Nazareth called Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary, his arrest, trial and death by crucifixion. However, Christians believe that God then did a mighty, cataclysmic act in the Resurrection of Jesus – the creation of a new order of being. It is all too easy to focus entirely on the cross at Easter but the cross has no point in and of itself. Only the Resurrection gives the cross meaning.

As a Christian church we are called “to proclaim the gospel afresh in each generation”. This is our generation. This is our church. This is our gospel. Please join me in proclaiming the Good News of God’s love for us, His creation.

Once again - Happy Easter!

Apr 2011
The New Future

As I write, the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) is approaching - it will have happened by the time you read this. All sorts of preparations have to be made for this important meeting in the life of the parish - the Annual Report and Accounts, the Electoral Roll report, parish activities reports, to name a few. Lots of people work hard to get things in order.

In my own preparations for the APCM, I have been reflecting on the year we have shared since the last APCM. It has been a year of prayer, reflection, collaborative decision-making and action. Discernment of what God is calling us to has led to a new Vision and Mission Statement, a new Organisation Structure and an experimental worship pattern in the Parish Church.

If you attended the APCM you will have heard a much fuller story, and will have your own copy of the New Future document developed by the PCC. If you did not manage to get a copy, please see one of the Churchwardens or Ministry Team to get hold of one.

As you are probably aware, we have discerned that our principal calling from God is to grow as his disciples and, in the fullness of time, to grow new disciples. It is, therefore, a joy that, in parallel with all the hard work being done for the APCM, there is work being done by the 125 members of the Ecumenical Lent Groups - eleven groups, each one with a host and a leader, with a group on every weekday - working through the material in the York Course Rich Inheritance - Jesus' legacy
of love.

The purpose of the season of Lent is to take a good long look at ourselves, mirroring the 40 days and nights that Jesus spent in the wilderness wrestling with how he should exercise his ministry. 10th April is the Fourth Sunday of Lent - Mothering Sunday or Refreshment Sunday - when we take a breather before the next Sunday - Passion Sunday - when our minds turn to the Passion of Jesus and we begin the walk with him to Jerusalem, through Holy Week to Good Friday and then ...
... Happy Easter!

Mar 2011
We Are Family

"We Are Family". These are words of a song by Sister Sledge. I have been pondering on how our expectations so often colour our experiences - all too often we get into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecies. We do need to think about our expectations of church - and about the expectations of those who do not come. If we were taught to expect church to be deadly serious, absolutely quiet and very pious, that will be how we will behave ... and expect others to behave.

On the other hand, if we were taught that church was about fun, friendship, fellowship and joyful singing we will behave and respond quite differently. Of course there are different ways for different occasions. There are times for quiet reflection and prayer and times for silence, but there are also times for over-brimming joy and loud praise.

But what is absolutely vital is that we behave and respond as is right for us as we are now, not what was right for our parents and teachers. It is also vital to understand that church is done together. Church is not a ME thing, it's a WE thing.

We need to think of ourselves as the body of Christ in this place - a community, a family. A family coming to worship together as we would to a family gathering. Naturally there will be some serious moments but we gather in the church building to rejoice in the wonder of being loved by the most wonderful Father of all.

Paul was making a similar point when he was writing to the Corinthian Christians and writing about the church as the Body of Christ. The Corinthians had made no attempt to foster a sense of community. Social status was rife and there was a general carelessness of each other.

Paul makes two points very forcibly. First, it is no use being envious of the gifts somebody else has got - they are somebody else, not you - or arrogant about your own - they are gifts. Second, it takes all sorts of gifts and talents to make a human body work; likewise, it takes all sorts of gifts and talents to make the body of Christ - the church - work.

The message is a comparatively simple one - unity in diversity: we all make our individual contributions, different as they are, to make up the whole - one single body, not a collection of disparate units. We are called to exercise our gifts to develop and enhance our church, our community, our family and we need to strive to understand how our gifting can be of service to others. We are called to discover where our passion is, what stimulates our creative energy – because that is where God is calling us to exercise those gifts.

Going back to expectations, if we can think of ourselves as a community - a church family within the wider community - we will begin to expect the things we expect in families. When we "do family", we typically do two things. We let the other members get close and we care about them. So we should when we "do church".

We should be getting to know those with whom we worship, not just as acquaintances but as brothers and sisters in Christ. And we should be praying for them - intercessory prayer by name. Michael Ramsey described intercessory prayer as "Being with God with the people on our hearts".

This is a central part of what we are called to as Christians. "We Are Family".
We are a Christian family.
Let's do it!

Feb 2011
No letter

Jan 2011
The Promise of Epiphany

A Happy and Peaceful New Year to Everyone

I've been musing about endings and 'beginnings. This month of January marks the ending of Mary Cruddas' time with us in Leatherhead. Mary has been serving here as Assistant Curate for the last five years. She has accepted the post of Team Vicar in the Parish of Waddesdon with Over Winchendon and Fleet based in Waddesdon, near Aylesbury, in the Diocese of Oxford. Her last Sunday with us will be 23 January and we will mark that in style.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve with Mary and we will all miss her creativity, her zest for life and her loving pastoral care. Please pray for Mary and Tony as they prepare for this next stage in their ministry.

Twenty-eleven will also mark the beginning of a new ordained ministry. Dr Kuhan Satkunanayagam will be ordained Deacon to serve as Assistant Curate in the United Benefice of Leatherhead and Mickleham at Petertide (3 July) in Guildford Cathedral. He is currently studying at Cranmer Hall, Durham. Please see his brief biography.

The parish has also made a new beginning. In this past year, we have undertaken our Vision Process, seeking to discern what God would have us be and do in order to live out his kingdom in this place at this time. And as we understand more about the disparate culture that comprises "this
place and this time", so we will understand more about which medium (or, rather, media) will best communicate the eternal message of God's enduring love for his creation.

As the Key Area Working Groups in our seven Key Areas of Mission have started up and begun to form, plans and budgets have been developing, and the PCC has drafted a document setting out a New Future for the Parish Church, building on our wonderful heritage. More of this anon.

And, as we have experienced the daily round of parish life, with its baptisms, weddings and funerals, so we have lived through, and been a part of, the endings and beginnings inherent in the great circle of life. Even now, in the depths of a dank, damp, dark - even snowbound - winter, we can see the glimmers of the new life promise of Spring - the joyful eruption of new life from the old and, apparently, dead.

That is the wonderful message of resurrection which we see in the everyday cycle of nature - plants and trees dying to produce vibrant new growth, grains of wheat dying to produce the harvest - that message writ large in the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

That is the promise of God's love for his creation. That is the promise of the Epiphany - the revelation of God in the baby Jesus. That is the promise we claim as Followers of The Way.

That is why I rejoice in wishing you all a joyful, peaceful and blessed New Year.


Dec 2010
What is Really Important!

A young teenager falls pregnant ...
An unmarried mother gives birth ...
A refugee family fleeing persecution becomes another "asylum-seeker" statistic ...

Yet another set of run-of-the-mill newspaper headlines in our enlightened century?

No. This is our story; this is our song. This is the best news the world has ever had. This is the story of the Incarnation of our Lord God ... in a manger in Bethlehem. God resolved to become one of us – a human being – to show us a glimpse of His face, to show us how he had designed us to be: loving, compassionate, servant-hearted, worshipful people, living out the fullness of our humanity.

I know that many people lament the way that Christmas has become yet another excuse for consumer excess – shopping till we drop, eating and drinking more than we would normally do, watching any and every sort of televised extravaganza. But that is the world in which we now live. That is the reality of the lives of most of our fellow human beings.

As Christians, we make a different statement. We believe that the events of 2,000 years ago have changed life fundamentally. We believe in the First Corning of our Lord. We believe that we are called by God to live out the Good News of His love. And, as we start this Advent season, we also affirm that we believe in the Second Coming – that Christ will come again in glory to signal the end of time.

I heard a wonderful recipe for living the other day – Live your life as if Jesus rose from the dead yesterday, and is coming back tomorrow. Wouldn't that sharpen our focus on what is really important?

May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and blessed New Year.
Graham Osborne

Nov 2010
Bible Heroes and Heroines

Rev Graham Osborne writes

As the cycle of the church year comes full circle, we move from the "green fields" of the Sundays after Trinity, the joy of Harvest celebrations, and our Autumn Fair into a time of remembrance – All Saints and All Souls and Remembrance Sunday.

Then we enjoy the run up to Advent, which culminates in the Feast of Christ the King on the Sunday before Advent.

One important landmark at this time in the church's year is Bible Sunday, which we celebrated on 24 October – a day for giving thanks to God for inspiring those who wrote the Bible. It is also a day for giving thanks for all those who, over the centuries, have used their time, their talents and their money to translate the Bible from its original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into languages that everybody could understand.

Our history books tell us of the Hebrew Scriptures translated into Greek for Greek-speaking Jews – the Septuagint – translated by seventy scholars all producing identical translations. Great names resound – Jerome, Erasmus, Martin Luther, William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale.

Different versions live in our memories – first Jerome's Latin version, the Vulgate, then the English versions – the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible (the "Breeches Bible" from its translation of. Genesis 3.7), the Bishops' Bible, the Douai-Rheims Bible (the first Roman Catholic version in English). Of the versions still in use today, the Authorised Version (the AV or King James Bible) is probably the most famous, and the most enduring.

New versions became more and more prevalent in the Twentieth Century. In the AV tradition, revision of the AV led to the Revised Version (RV) and the American Standard Version (ASV). Revision of the ASV gave us the Revised Standard Version (RSV), subsequently revised to the New Revised Standard version (NRSV).

Translators trying to produce versions intelligible to "the common man" included J. Moffatt, J.B. Phillips and Eugene Peterson. Versions trying to do so included The Good News Bible, Today's English Version (GNB or TEV), the Living Bible (LB) and The Message.

Completely new translations, using the best available texts of the original languages include the New English Bible (NEB), revised to become the Revised English Bible (REB), the Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible (JB), revised to become the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), the New Living Translation (NLT) and the New International Version (NIV), revised for inclusivity to become Today's New International Version (TNIV). The AV has even been recast into modern English as the New King James Version (NKJV).

So there is a huge variety of versions of the Bible – the story of the salvation history of the Jews and the revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth. But is there a corresponding hunger to read it?

When I was a Curate in Cirencester, one member of my congregation was a lady of a certain age who had, in her earlier years (not so very long before) been a Bible Smuggler. She had some wonderful, hair-raising stories of slipping into Far Eastern countries with a stack of Bibles secreted about her. And the joy in the faces of those Christians, existing on Bible stories by word of mouth and memory, who were finally able to read the Bible in their own language, was almost tangible in the telling. Only made possible by her courage and the courage of those like her.

My prayer is that each of us will be encouraged and challenged – by the rich variety of versions available to us, by the dedication and courage of my Cirencesterheroine and her like, and by the wonder and joy of those finally able to read God's story in their own language. Encouraged and challenged to immerse ourselves in the riches and wonders of the Bible – and to experience the joy of a personal encounter with the living God.

Yours in Him

Oct 2010
Is there not a better way?

Rev Graham Osborne writes

I was appalled to hear the news about a Christian church in Gainesville, Florida, USA, planning the burning of 200 copies of the Qur'an on 11 September 2010 – the anniversary of "9/11". I hope you will have shared my dismay at the prospect of such desecration. I was immediately taken back to those events of 11th September 2001. It was a Tuesday, my Day Off, and Nicky and I had settled down to watch a much-anticipated film - on video, of course, in those quondam days. As is the way of technology, when stopped the video player, the TV reverted to the channel to which it was tuned.

I was reaching to switch off the TV with my mind elsewhere - on my just returned schoolchild - and noticed the images of a smoking city skyline. I dismissed them as archive footage of Beirut, or Baghdad, or somewhere where "those sorts of things happen". I only learned the truth later on the Radio News and then sat riveted to those images of unthinkable carnage and destruction - the oh-so-vivid images of the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the destruction of a whole side of the Pentagon in Washington, the smouldering remains of a plane in Pennsylvania. I am sure that they will be burned into our collective memory for years to come.

As I watched, I remembered that my good friends, Michael and Edie, both worked in New York, and that Edie worked for a Wall Street finance house. When I rang to make sure that they were all right, Edie told me that her office building was actually on the opposite side of the Hudson River. Her office looked out over the river to the Twin Towers. She described her horror on getting into her office that morning at about 8am and sitting, open-mouthed with her Starbucks coffee gradually going cold, watching the events unfold. She and Michael, who had also worked on Wall Street, knew dozens of people who worked in the Twin Towers, and she watched in disbelief as the planes hit, the towers crumpled and the dust billowed - powerless to do anything but go on watching. Some of her friends died that day.

I remember vividly being struck by some stark questions:

Swiftly on the heels of that last question was the answer, at least the answer as far as Christians are concerned. The Way that we follow, The Way that is Jesus Christ, shows us that violence will never overcome violence, hatred will never overcome hatred, fear will never overcome fear - We are told that "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4.18). The Way that we follow is a Way of care, compassion, love and peace. Even justice gives way to grace. How full of grace would it be to burn a revered holy text - even if it is someone else's?

Sep 2010
The New Worship Pattern

Rev Graham Osborne writes

Towards the end of July, a group from the Parish Church bravely set off for a week in deepest Somerset to stay in tents and caravans at the Royal Bath & Wells Showground, and enjoy the New Wine Christian conference. We attended the London and South East week as the event has grown so much that there are now three separate weeks – two at Shepton Mallett and one at Newark, Notts. Each conference attracts up to 10,000 people.

The week comprises a full programme of worship, Bible teaching, seminars, and entertainment offered to adults and children alike. Provision for young people is made by Soul Survivor, an offshoot of New Wine, and leaders of the Leatherhead Youth Project are at Soul Survivor with a group of young people as I write.

The worship at New Wine is very much in the “contemporary, informal” idiom, and it is an awesome experience to worship with around 5,000 others (there are two worship venues) – especially the singing. Those who have experienced singing a rousing Wesley hymn in a cathedral packed to the rafters will have some idea.

As you will remember, in our Vision Process in May, the parish meeting identified seven Key Areas of Mission and wrote a Mission Statement for each. The one for our Worship Key Area was to “encourage spirit-filled, appropriate and diverse worship”. The Worship Key Area Working Group has been reflecting on how that might be achieved.

In his editorial article in the September 2006 magazine, David Eaton wrote this: “The hope is that we can begin to offer two mid-morning services on most Sundays; one the more formal Communion Service as at present, the other an informal Family Service. This mirrors a previous pattern of Church Worship where Sung Communion and Matins were the regular weekly diet. The aim of a second service, as well as offering informality, would be to reach out to attract families and individuals largely outside present church membership.”

After much consultation, long deliberation, discussion and prayer, the Worship Key Area Working Group has proposed to the PCC that the existing worship pattern be modified for an experimental period of twelve months, with periodic reviews to monitor progress. This was unanimously agreed.

The new pattern will start on Sunday 3 October – our Harvest Festival – and will comprise the addition of a contemporary, informal service every Sunday. Based on the experience of Easter Day this year, the new service will be at 9.30am and a Parish Communion with organ and hymns will be at 11.15am. This will give time for coffee in the Church Hall between the services during which both congregations can mix and mingle – those who have just attended a service and those arriving before the next.

This is an exciting and long-awaited development in the worshipping life of the Parish Church. I hope and pray that you will not only keep the planning and development work involved in your prayers, but also support the new pattern in whatever way you can.

As a church, we are committed to “growing disciples of Jesus Christ” and we trust that this initiative will provide another avenue through which those who have yet to hear the Good News may experience the joy of being part of our church family.

Aug 2010
Let's Take Stock

Rev Graham Osborne writes

With the holiday season well upon us, now is a good time to take stock. In the last five months we have achieved the following together:

Developed a picture of the status quo in our parish – the A3 diagram of Where Are We Now – with contributions and refinements from a wide spectrum of our church family

Developed a Vision Statement – Leatherhead Parish – growing disciples of Jesus Christ

Reached a consensus that we cannot stay as we are, and that we are called to develop and grow.

Identified seven Key Areas of Mission in which to do so

Worship
Growing as Disciples
Evangelistic Outreach
Community Engagement
Pastoral Care
Resources
Ecumenical Links

Written a Mission Statement for each of the Key Areas

Begun the process of forming seven Key Area Working Groups and identifying their Convenors – some have met a number of times, others have yet to become fully formed.

Started five new Small Groups, meeting on Monday afternoons, Monday evenings, Wednesday afternoons, Thursday evenings and Friday evenings – if you would like to join one, please contact Linda Hauxwell.

Not bad for five months’ work!

Each Key Area Working Group is now developing Goals and Action Plans – using the Statement of Needs that forms part of the Parish Profile as a starting point - plans that will help to turn our Vision into reality. If you would like to be involved in one of the Key Areas, please get in touch with me, with one of the staff or the Churchwardens, or a member of the PCC.

We live in exciting times – I hope you will be able to enjoy a refreshing and restorative Summer.

July 2010
Being there for Someone

Rev Graham Osborne writes

What is it that drives a man to such extremes? We have all been stunned and horrified by the shootings in Cumbria, and our hearts have gone out to those who have been affected by them, both directly and indirectly. Not least the sons of Derrick Bird, who have only known a kind and loving father and seem to be at a total loss in understanding what drove him to such an extreme outpouring of rage.

All of us, at one time or another, undergo stress caused by personal and financial problems; and increasing levels of stress can cause increasing levels of unusual behaviour. Psychological studies of stress-related behaviours have shown that, as stress levels increase, dysfunctional behaviours escalate from brief irritation and poor communication, through uncharacteristic venting of frustration, inappropriate outbursts and health disorders, to substance abuse, family abuse and, at extreme stress levels, violence.

Hungerford and Dunblane are seared on our memories. Now we have to add Whitehaven and Seascale. Our ongoing thoughts and prayers are with those communities that now have to deal with the aftermath. One of the key elements in dealing with high levels of stress is having someone to talk to. As we all know, sometimes problems seem insurmountable and overwhelming, but if we can talk them through with somebody else, those problems can often be put in perspective and a constructive way forward can be found.

That is one of the beauties of a church family – there is always someone there for you. I am sure that any one of us can remember an occasion, or a time in our lives, when the support and understanding of someone in the church family, undergirded by God’s love and compassion, have been a life-saver. One of the Key Areas of Mission in taking forward our Vision is Pastoral Care – the nurturing of our church family – to be there for anyone who needs such support and understanding.

Taking forward our new Vision will necessarily entail some changes. It is vital that we understand that change itself is stressful and that our natural response to change is to resist it. Our psychological make-up can be described as a hierarchy that includes our behaviours, knowledge, beliefs, values, assumptions, identity and emotions – what can be termed our “frame of reference”; in other words what is “normal” for us.

Some changes are comparatively easy – for example changing how we behave or our level of knowledge. The deeper down within us sits any proposed change, the more it will affect us personally. The more a proposed change will affect us personally – i.e. the more it will distort our frame of reference – the more we will resist it. For most of us, Church sits very deep in us, so any change to “normal” patterns or facilities, particularly buildings, will be very stressful and we will resist them fiercely. Resistance to change is a natural and inevitable reaction.

The important thing is to understand why a particular change feels so threatening. That is where the support and understanding of the church family is vital – helping us to deal with the stress of change. Part of that will be in understanding both the threats and the opportunities that are making the change or changes necessary, and in seeing how those threats or opportunities are addressed by the proposed changes.

We are making good progress in the next stage of our Vision Process [see below]. Convenors for six of the seven Key Area Working Groups are now in place, with each member of the PCC on one of the Key Area Working Groups. Initial meetings have been held and other potential members discerned. Each Key Area Working Group is developing Goals and Action Plans – using the Statement of Needs that forms part of the Parish Profile as a starting point – plans that will help to turn our Vision into reality.

Once again, if you feel passionate about one of the Key Areas and would like to be involved, please get in touch with me, with one of the staff or the Churchwardens, or a member of the PCC.

Even with England in the World Cup and Andy Murray playing at Wimbledon, I hope your July is (reasonably) stress-free!

June 2010
We need a Mission

from the Rector, Revd Graham Osborne

On Sunday 9 May some 70 members of our parish congregations gathered after coffee for the Parish Vision Process Meeting. Everybody had brought a packed lunch and settled down at tables in the Church Hall. The aims of the meeting were as follows:

To understand why a Vision is needed
To understand our Vision Process
To review where we are now
To hear from the Diocese and the wider church
To discern our Key Areas of Mission
To draft our Mission Statements

We started out by looking at why we needed a Vision for the parish. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29.18): contrast these two pictures ....

Once there is an overall direction then all the activities we undertake can be aligned to take us towards that destination, and decisions can be made as to what takes us in that direction and what does not.

The meeting then turned to the A3 Chart [that for was on display in Church] showing Where Are We Now? that has been refined since the start of Lent by contributions from all those who have reviewed and commented on it.

We also looked at the Statement of Needs that formed part of the Parish Profile used in the appointment process for the new Rector.

The Revd John Gooding, Director of the Mission, Evangelism and Parish Development Department of Guildford Diocese, then gave us perspectives from both the Diocese and the wider church.

The meeting concluded that we cannot stay where we are and that we need to develop and grow as a thriving church.

Having reached this consensus we moved on to Where Are We Called? and set about distilling the Key Areas of the mission to which God is calling us at this time, in this place. Every individual then had the opportunity to decide which were their own Key Areas.

After discussing and debating these – first in pairs, then in fours, then in eights – the meeting was presented with the results.

KEY AREAS BY GROUP

GROUP 1

  1. BIBLE-BASED TEACHING
  2. TRAINING/DEVELOPER LAY MINISTRY
  3. DEVELOP STYLE/VARIETY OF WORSHIP
  4. OUTREACH TO COMMUNITY - YOUNG/OLD
  5. WORK WITH/RESPECT OUR ECUMENICAL PARTNERS
  6. WORLDWIDE CHURCH
    SUPPORT
    AWARENESS

GROUP 2

  1. A WIDE RANGE OF WORSHIP RESPECTING BOTH FORMAL AND INFORMAL WORSHIP AND A WARM WELCOME
  2. DEVELOPING MISSION TO NON-CHURCHGOERS AND INCLUDING CHARITABLE CONCERNS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY
  3. STEWARDSHIP AND RESPONSIBLE FINANCING TO MAINTAIN THE CHURCH AND CHARITABLE ORGANISATIONS
  4. FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN/ YOUTH/ FAMILIES WORK
  5. BETTER COMMUNICATION AND SIMPLE MESSAGES
  6. TRAINING NEW LEADERS (INCLUDING LAY LEADERS) AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROACTIVE DISCUSSIONS IN SMALL GROUPS

GROUP 3

  1. RECOGNISE THAT DIFFERENT STYLES OF WORSHIP ARE ALL VALID
  2. RAISE INCOME AND INCREASE RESOURCES
  3. ENABLE ALL MEMBERS TO HAVE A STRONG FOUNDATION OF FAITH IN GOD
  4. CREATE A CHURCH THAT IS A LOVING, CARING, PASTORAL COMMUNITY FOR ALL AGES
  5. DEVELOP FURTHER STRONG CHILDREN'S MINISTRY
  6. REACH OUT TO THE COMMUNITY

GROUP 4

  1. WORSHIP AND PRAYER
  2. TEACHING
  3. FAMILIES AT ALL STAGES
  4. PASTORAL CARE
  5. BROAD WELCOME, MISSION AND OUTREACH
  6. RESOURCES

GROUP 5

  1. GOOD WELCOME TO ALL TO THE CHURCH
  2. KEEP TRADITIONAL AS WELL AS EXTEND OTHER FORMS OF LOVING AND JOYFUL WORSHIP
  3. MAINTAIN CHURCHES OUTREACH
  4. PROVIDE AND GROW LAY LEADERSHIP
  5. EXTEND AND GROW YOUTH WORK AND THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY
  6. DISCOVER NEW WAYS OF BEING GOD'S CHURCH IN THE 21ST CENTURY

GROUP 6

  1. DEEPEN PERSONAL SPIRITUAL LIFE
  2. SHARE THAT LOVE OF GOD
  3. VARIETY OF WORSHIP
  4. FINANCE
  5. WORK CLOSELY WITH OTHER CHURCHES
  6. NURTURE AND USE OTHERS' SKILLS AND TALENTS

GROUP 7

  1. WORSHIP - DEEPEN DIVERSITY OF STYLES OF WORSHIP NOT NECESSARILY IN CHURCH
  2. SPIRITUAL LIFE - EQUIP US TO BE MORE LIKE JESUS, THROUGH BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER
  3. COMMUNITY - REACH OUT INTO COMMUNITY; BE SEEN AND DEVELOP AWARENESS OF AND ACTION TOWARDS AREAS OF SOCIAL CONCERN
  4. YOUNG PEOPLE - LOWER AVERAGE AGE - BY ATTRACTING YOUNGER PEOPLE
  5. CHURCH FAMILY - EMBRACING ALL - NO CLIQUES HERE!
  6. HAVING FUN (AND BRINGING IN FUNDS)

GROUP 8

  1. BUILDING UNITY WITHOUT UNIFORMITY, DEVELOPING DIFFERENT WORSHIP STYLES
  2. GROWING IN FAITH THROUGH STUDY (INCLUDING SMALL GROUPS)
  3. DEVELOPING PASTORAL CARE AND SUPPORT FOR ALL IN THE COMMUNITY
  4. BEING CHRIST'S LIGHT IN THE COMMUNITY
  5. DEEPEN INDIVIDUAL AND CORPORATE PRAYER LIFE
  6. STRENGTHENING OUR WITNESS THROUGH OUR WORK WITH OTHER CHURCHES AND NETWORKS

The meeting as a whole then reolved those down into seven Key Areas of Mission. A group then formed around each Key Area and wrote a Mission Statement.

The resulting Vision and Mission Statements were as follows:

LEATHERHEAD PARISH - GROWING DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST

To that end, in the words of our members, our Key Areas of Mission are:

Worship

  • encourage spirit-filled, appropriate and diverse worship

Growing as Disciples

  • grow and share the love of Christ by:
    - Bible-based teaching
    - development of small groups
    - identifying and enabling lay leadership

Evangelistic Outreach

  • follow through: "better" services and sermons
  • offer hospitality - socials e.g. World Cup, workshops, signage/advertising, at church
  • accessibility including parish office

Engagement with Community

Pastoral Care - All Ages

Resources

Ecumenical Links

The next stage is to form a Working Group for each Key Area, each with a PCC member as Convenor. Each Key Area Working Group will then begin to address the third stage of the Vision Process - How Do We Get There? - developing Goals and Action Plans in its Key Area, plans that will aim to turn our Vision into reality.

There will also be a Planning Support Group to assist where needed. We will be developing our plans with our covenant partners in the Methodist and United Reformed churches and, wherever possible, we will be working closely with all the churches in the town.

If you would like to be involved in this exciting adventure, please get in touch with me, with one of the staff or the Churchwardens, or a member of the PCC.

Happy June!


May 2010
Where are we Called?

I am writing this towards the end of my post-Easter break, reflecting on the Lent, Holy Week and Easterthat we have travelled and celebrated together.

In the Lent Groups, that attracted some 120 people from the churches in Leatherhead, we reflected on the meaning of the Cross. The culmination of our five weeks was a wonderful Bring & Share supper on the Wednesday of Holy Week. Around 70 of us gathered to enjoy food and fellowship and to reflect together on what had gone well in the five weeks, what sticking-points we had experienced and what insights we can take forward to next year. Our thanks go to Linda Hauxwell for organising the groups and co-ordinating what has been an outstanding chapter in the life of the church family in Leatherhead.

The focus then moved to our Lord's Passion with the Eucharist of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday evening. Most of the congregation in the Parish Church came forward to experience the washing of their feet – or hands – therebyreceiving something of the service Christ performed for his disciples, and hearing again that New Commandment given by Jesus: "Love one another as I have loved you" [from which Latin we get the term "Maundy" - mandatum novum do vobis - "a new commandment I give unto you"].

The solemnity of the Stripping of the Altars was followed by a Vigil during which we moved in spirit from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane. There we heard the account of Jesus' submission to the will of God after a time of anguished prayer, the shocking betrayal by Judas Iscariot, the arrest and imprisonment by armed guards and the oh-so-human threefold denial by Simon Peter.

On Good Friday, following the Walk of Witness through the town, we gathered for the Last Hour in the Parish Church to walk with our Lord through his condemnation, degradation and agonising death. A combination of hymns, readings from the Passion Narrative, silence and music enabled us to enter into the reality of the story, to watch the cross being carried up to Calvary (the High Altar) and to stand, with nails in our hands, contemplating its finality.

The Last Words from the Cross, the death of Jesus and the journey to the Tomb where His body was laid to rest took us into the dark despair of the disciples –the end of what had promised so much.

For me, the desolation and emptiness of the rest of Good Friday and of Holy Saturday are an important part of my own re-living of the Passion and understanding of the reality of what God endured for me out of His great love.

The contrast between this desolation and the joy and wonder of Easter Day could not be more marked. Nearly 300 of us gathered to celebrate the Easter Eucharists – one formal, one informal, one with traditional Easter hymns and anthems, one with contemporary worship songs – both with a sense of awe and wonder at the power that raised Jesus from the dead and joy at the promise of Life After Death, of Life After Life After Death, and the opportunities for a rich and full Life Before Death. Easter Eggs featured strongly, both at the door of the church and in the Easter Egg Hunt outside the church – hopefully making a contribution to a joyfully rich day. In John 10.10 Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness". That is the scripture that has energised my own ministry and the one that guides me in my ministry here in Leatherhead.

As I said in my Easter sermons, the Vision that has distilled in me over the last few weeks is this: Leatherhead Parish -growing disciples of Jesus Christ.

This describes us both by an adjective - that we are growing as disciples ourselves – and by a transitive verb – that we are helping to grow new disciples. We will strive to grow in our worship, our prayer life, our knowledge of the Bible, our fellowship as a church family, our outreach to the town and beyond, and our stewardship of the resources with which we have been blessed – not only our own personal time, talents and treasure but also the corporate resources we enjoy.

Together, we will be putting flesh on these bare bones – starting with our Parish Meeting after coffee on Sunday 9 May. Please do bring a packed lunch and your reflections on the Vision Scriptures through which you have been praying during Lent. We will be looking at Where Are We Now? – encapsulated in the graphic representation of all that we are involved in that has been collectively developed and refined over the last few weeks.

We will be joined by The Revd John Gooding, Director of the Diocesan Mission, Evangelism and Parish Development Department, who will give us perspectives from both the Diocese and the wider church.

If we reach a consensus that this is not where we are called to stay, we will go on to Where Are We Called? – distilling the Key Areas of the mission to which God is calling us at this time, in this place. Subsequent work, involving as many as want to be involved, will address How Do We Get There? – developing Goals and Action Plans in each of our Key Areas to turn our Vision into reality.

As I said in my Easter sermons - never mind making Leatherhead a Fairtrade Town, how about being part of making Leatherhead a Christian Town? I hope that you find this as exciting a prospect as I do.

As the Easter Season continues, culminating in the Day of Pentecost on 23 May, once again I wish you all a very Happy Easter!


April 2010
What? Who? Why?

from the Rector, Graham Osborne

I have just returned from a clergy retreat entitled "Hearing Afresh God's Call to Lead". We were led through a series of questions posed in vignettes from the life of Simon Peter, in words and pictures, and were asked to reflect on what the Holy Spirit was saying to us in our own call to leadership. Starting with Andrew bringing Simon to Jesus who instantly named him "Peter", the rock (John 1.35-45) - What do you want? - we moved to Caeserea Philippi and heard Jesus ask "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter respond "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16.10-20) - Who am I? The watery end to Peter's attempt to walk on the water (Matthew 14.28-40) posed the question Why did you doubt?

We then focused on Passiontide and Easter:
- the foot-washing (John 13.1-17) - Do you understand?
- the threefold betrayal (John 18.15-27) - You aren't one of his disciples, are you?
- the empty tomb (John 20.1-10) - The unasked question - where is Jesus?
- the threefold forgiveness and restoration (John 21.1-17) - Do you love me?
ending up with Peter's threefold vision of unclean food and the visit of the servants of Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10.9-23) - Why have you come?

As we celebrate this Easter season, and strive to discern God's call to us as His church in this place at this time, we could do worse than reflect on our own responses to these questions. That we are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ seems to me to be the corner-stone as we anticipate - and expect - that He is building His church here in Leatherhead.

The events of that first Easter are, potentially, so life-changing that we would do well to refresh our memories of them and think them through thoroughly. If you have travelled through Passiontide, Holy Week and Easter with us, you will have re-heard the story once more.

Given the accounts of 1st Century historians like Josephus, it would be hard to argue that an itinerant preacher, teacher and healer from Nazareth called Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary, never existed. Nor that he fell foul of the Roman authorities in Jerusalem and was arrested, tried and sentenced to death by crucifixion - a sentence that was carried out with ruthless Roman efficiency.

The crucial hinge-point for Christians (no pun intended) is the Resurrection. I would encourage you to review for yourselves what could have happened in that tomb - body-snatchers? grave-robbers? disciples determined to prove their Master right? authorities bent on making sure that this was really the end? or the awesome power of God raising a man from the dead? As we have been reflecting on the meaning of the cross in our Lent Groups, the consensus seems to be that the cross has no point in and of itself. Only the Resurrection gives the cross meaning.

As a Christian church we are called "to proclaim the gospel afresh in each generation". This is our generation. This is our church. This is our gospel. Please join me in proclaiming the Good News of God's love for us, His creation.

Happy Easter!
Revd Graham Osborne


March 2010
What color is your parachute?

The Rector writes ...

As you may by now be aware, I have a conviction that our principal calling from God is to grow as his disciples and, in the fullness of time, to grow new disciples. I have been reflecting on my first three months here in Leatherhead – and the journey I have made to get here – brought into sharp focus by the invitation to speak at the Churches Together Men's Breakfast. I was reminded of the book I used to help me through the process of self-discovery which ended with my offering for Ordination – What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles (yes, the American spelling is deliberate!).

Richard is a priest in the Episcopalian Church in the USA and has been a career consultant for some forty years, following in his father's footsteps. In Parachute, Richard writes about how one goes about learning what one's Mission in life is – a three-stage process which can apply both individually and corporately.

The first stage is to seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the one from whom your Mission is derived. This entails a very personal commitment to trying to live in an intimate relationship with the one who created us. Our Lent course this year – the York Course When I Survey... Christ's cross and ours – gives each of us the opportunity to explore and deepen our own discipleship through reflecting on the meaning of the cross.

I hope that you will have got a copy of the Parish Vision Scriptures booklet that contains a number of Bible passages about what it is to be "church". A significant element of this is seeking to discern how we might enrich, deepen and develop all our forms of corporate worship to allow as many people as possible to "worship God in spirit and in truth" in ways that connect them most intimately with the living God.

The second stage of Richard's Parachute process is to do what you can, moment by moment, day by day, step by step, to make the world a better place, following the leading and guidance of God's Spirit within you and around you. Later in the year we will start to examine how we use our Time, Talents, and Treasure to live out our discipleship. As a church family we are richly blessed with an awesome array of gifts. This year gives us an opportunity to revisit how we use them, and to explore how best we might refine that. Individually it is a good discipline to do such a review periodically. Corporately it is vital – one of the marks of a healthy church is doing a few things, and doing them well. That is a challenge for us all.

The third and final stage in discovering our Mission in life is in three parts:
A: to exercise that Talent, which you particularly came to Earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use
B: in the place(s) or setting(s) which God has caused to appeal to you the most
C: and for those purposes which God most needs to have done in the world.

This is the key stage for each of us as individuals and for us corporately as a family of disciples. Each of us has something we really enjoy doing, and a place or places where we feel truly "at home". Once we discover these – and I hope many of you already have – we find that exercising them often coincides with where God is at work and yearns for us to join him.

In our Parish Vision process we at St Mary & St Nicholas and All Saints are seeking to discern what God would have us be as his church here in this place at this time and, therefore, what he would have us do. After Easter we will be looking at the good – and not so good – things that we do together, and seeing whatinsights that gives us as we look forward to the future. Please use this season of Lent to reflect not only on your own discipleship but also how we as a church family might live out our corporate discipleship here in Leatherhead.
Let's try to catch God's vision for our parish on this next stage of our journey together.

Revd Graham Osborne


Feb 2010
Which Way?

The Rector writes...

As we all gradually emerge from our enforced hibernation in the snow, I have been reflecting on my first two months here - the run-up to Christmas, the wide range of the Christmas services we enjoyed, the New Year celebrations, and the wonderful snowscapes to which we have been treated. In my first pastoral letter in the December magazine I wrote this:

"My intention is to immerse myself in the life of the benefice; praying with you, worshipping with you, meeting you, hearing your stories, getting a feel for what you understand that God is calling us to be and to do in this wonderful place at this time in history."

I have been thinking and praying about how we should seek to discern what God is calling us to be and to do - here in Leatherhead and now in 2010. It seems to me that we need to have a clear vision of what we are here for, an understanding of our part in God's mission, a focus for how we use the many resources we have available to us, and an action plan to implement it.

As you know, the Staff, Churchwardens and PCC meet regularly and we have been considering ways in which we can approach this discernment process, involving the whole church family. We have decided to adopt a three-stage Vision Process - the three main stages being as follows:

Stage 1: Where Now? - our current status in terms of skills, gifts, activities, ministry, mission, outreach, geography, demography, economics, politics, how we are perceived, unmet needs, etc.,
Stage 2: Where To? What God is calling us to be and to do,
Stage 3: How? The Action Plan of how we get there.

First, find out where we are now. Second, find out where we are heading. Third, plan how we get there.

The planned timetable is to complete Stage 1 by Ash Wednesday (17 February), Stage 2 by shortly after Easter, and Stage 3 during the summer. I do want all of you to be involved in this process so that, together, we can build on the firm foundations we already have.

Stage 1 - Where Now? - is about establishing where we currently stand. These include definitive parish boundaries, census data, demographic profiles, the Parish Profile, and an "activities map" of the parish. If you have a particular area of interest or activity - either "badged" as St Mary & St Nicholas or something you do as an individual Christian - or other relevant data, do ensure that somebody on the PCC is aware of it.

John Hampton kindly volunteered to draft a first pass at the "activities map" and it will be available in church and in the Parish Office for you to review. Please consider what is missing, what has been misunderstood, and what is incorrect - there will be a book next to the "activities map" for your contributions. An amended version will then be prepared, taking into account everybody's input. The fundamental question will then be "if this is where we are now, is this where we want to stay?"

In order to prepare ourselves for Stage 2 - Where To? - we need to reflect on what God has told us about what it is to be a church and active Christian disciples. To that end, there will be a booklet available from the start of Lent that contains verses from the Bible where Jesus, the Gospel writers, St Paul and other New Testament letter-writers set out what is expected of us. I would ask each of you to take one ofthese booklets and pray through it during the course of Lent. We will then meet together to discern our way forward.

So, in summary, we are embarking on a three-stage Vision Process that we will undertake together. Stage 1 is concerned with gathering information about what is going on in our parish. Once the data has been gathered, we will make sure everybody has access to it in one form or another.

Stage 2 - Where To? - asks us to do what Jesus and his disciples did before attempting anything of importance - praying and fasting - and then meeting together to discern God's will for us. Once we reach a consensus on what that is, we can go on to Stage 3 - How? - planning how we go about it.

This an exciting and vital stage in our journey as a church family. If there is anything you feel needs clarification, please ask me or any member of the PCC. Otherwise, please engage as fully as you can in this very important process.

Revd Graham Osborne


Jan 2010
Well did you ever?

The Rector writes...

Imagine my surprise ... Having been appointed to the post of Vicar of Leatherhead it was something of a jolt to hear Bishop Ian license me as "Rector". So much so that I wrote to the Diocesan Registrar and asked for clarification. He replied:

"As you will know, Mickleham was, when a separate benefice, a Rectory. However it is now part of a new single benefice. The rule is that the 'greater' title (ie Rector) absorbs the 'lesser' (Vicar) in these cases. You are therefore Rector of the benefice and the title 'Vicar' falls away. You are Rector of both parishes and the name given to the parsonage should reflect that also."

So, Leatherhead now has a Rector living in The Rectory! In past times the difference was in the remuneration received by the holder of the various offices - Rectors received the glebe income of the parish, Vicars did not. Ah well!

But, enough of that. We are now fully launched on the awesome seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany when we focus on the coming of the Christ and His revelation to the world He made. Our readings take us to the Holy Land, and to the events that unfolded there some 2,000 years ago. I had one of those sharply-etched memory moments the other day. A friend of mine was recounting the awesome experience of his first sight of the Sea of Galilee. The wonder of seeing - for real - the site of so many of the key events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

I was immediately taken back nearly eleven years to my own experience of Galilee. On that particular Sunday, some of our party of pilgrims had got up at 4 o'clock in the morning to watch the sunrise. As we waited in the pre-dawn darkness, we all had our eyes fixed on the Golan Heights, across the lake from our hotel in Tiberias. Slowly, slowly, the sun began to peep over the hills and then -suddenly - a shaft of golden light shone out across the face of the water and, with a thrill of wonder, I realised that Jesus himself would have been all too familiar with the self-same sight. That was only the start of the day. The journey across the lake in a wooden boat, the stop in the middle of the lake, and the almost tangible stillness are a whole story in themselves. Some of you will no doubt have similar memories.

My memories go on to the boat's destination near Capernaum and the journey to the church of Mensa Christi - the table of Christ - at Tabgha. It was there, in the Sea of Galilee itself, that my then Vicar and I baptised my friend Harriet, by threefold total immersion, just off the beach where Jesus served breakfast to his disciples in John 2l . The beach is at the northern end of the lake, just where the Jordan River flows into the lake - the same Jordan River in which Jesus himself was baptised by John the Baptist.

These memories have been vividly recalled by that conversation with my friend, now at the start of Advent with Christmas not far ahead. Once more, we will re-tell the story of the growing conviction within the Children of Israel that a Messiah was really coming. We will re-tell the story of the annunciation to Mary and the journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the census. We will re-tell the story of the manger in the stable at Bethlehem and the birth of the Light of the World.

Re-telling these stories will bring to vivid life the and expanse of -the Judaean wilderness, the awesome Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth with its great bronze doors and their bas-relief pictures, the teeming life of Jerusalem around the vastness of the Wailing Wall, the last remaining memory of the magnificent Temple.

I wonder what Manger Square in Bethlehem is like in the current troubled times? It felt dangerous then, ringed around by Tourist Police. But that could not detract from the vastness of the Church of the Nativity and the contrasting smallness of the winding descent to the oh-so-small marble pavement with its silver star around a hole. A hole through which one can feel the rock beneath - the rock where the manger stood.

I have in my memory a picture of the twenty-one pilgrims in our party in the long, low, narrow space in front of that marble pavement. I can hear the story of Jesus' birth being read to us. And I can remember my disappointment - and the jostling and manoeuvring as we tried to make room - when another group of pilgrims, fifty or sixty strong, came down the stairs to join us.

But I can also recall, with absolute clarity, what it felt like as we asked the other party if they minded if we sang. And what it felt like as they joined in and started singing with us; singing O Little Town of Bethlehem, in full four-part harmony, in the very place where it all happened.

I do know how lucky I am to have been able to go to the Holy Land - to see all those places for myself, to live through all those amazing experiences, to walk in the footsteps of my Master. I do realise that not many people will have had that chance ... but I do hope that, as you read these words, as you heard the stories as they were re-told, as you sang the Christmas carols ... you too were able to imagine the reality of those events long ago, and give thanks for the coming of God Incarnate.

May I wish you all a peaceful and blessed New Year.
Revd Graham Osborne


December 2009
Wishing you a Happy and Joyous Christmas

The Vicar writes...

You will appreciate that I have no idea yet of how I should write to you. It is a strange feeling to be writing my first article in "for Church and Town" having met only a few of you, and having talked in any depth with none of you.

A friend of mine remembers attending an Institution service at which the Bishop spoke on a similar theme. He observed that, although the new incumbent knew virtually nobody in the parish as at his institution date, within a few months he would know people at a depth that few people ever experience except with their families and very closest friends. That is one of the greatest privileges of being a parish priest: being allowed into peoples' lives – in the good times, in the not-sogood times and in the deeply awful times.

It is also one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of our life together as Christians. We are called to be brothers and sisters in Christ, to serve one another and to be members of the same family ... and that means that we should be openand honest and loving with each other. I realise that I will have to try and steer clear of "a lapse in presentation", "typling and guzzling" (although it sounds like fun!) and "gross neglect of [my] duties" but I am sure that, with your help, I will manage.

There is always so much to learn when starting off in a new parish – new people, new places, new culture – and it all takes time. My intention is to immerse myself in the life of the benefice; praying with you, worshipping with you, meeting you, hearing your stories, getting a feel for what you understand that God is calling us to be and to do in this wonderful place at this time in history.

There will, no doubt, be business to attend to, as the day-to-day realities of keeping a benefice going are never far away. However, we must always keep in mind that our primary purpose as Christians is to live by the Great Commandments – to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves – and to undertake the Great Commission – to go out into the world and make disciples. That may sound daunting, frightening, even threatening, to some but this is one of life's great adventures and it is something we share together. We do well to remember that we do not do it in our own strength, and that we do it by using the gifts that we have been given.

I am thrilled to have been called to serve here, excited by the prospect, and delighted by the outstanding people I have already met. As we start our new life together as God's family in Leatherhead and Mickleham, you will get to know me and I will get to know you. My hope and my prayer is that a relationship of respect and trust will develop, rooted and grounded in God's love for us and in our reflection of that love, such that we will all be able to experience the overflowing joy promised by Jesus: "I have come that they may have life, and may have it in all its fullness" (John 10.10).