A Thank You Video

Special Services

On September 4th, we came together in a parish-wide service at St Nicholas’ to celebrate the work that Anthony and Steve have done for us. At the service, members of the parish promised to help with various aspects of parish life, in line with our Parish Plan and vision. Many of the couples who have been married in the last two years returned to join us for this uplifting sung service, which was followed by a drinks and a barbecue afterwards on the Rectory lawns.

This video is just a little thank you for the work of Anthony and Steve and their families.

From the Rector…


“Let mutual love continue” is a fittingly poignant scripture passage to have as a text for my final contribution to the column which goes online and in the pew sheet.

Our vision as a parish is to be a “Christian community growing in faith, hope and love” – and, as I am regularly reminded at weddings, St Paul declares that “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13.13).  So, with the fifth anniversary of the Ball family moving in to the Rectory having just passed, I look back and recall my response to (I think) Bishop Mark at my interview.

Q. “What would you plan to do as Rector?”

A. “I’d want to love the people of the parish into a fuller experience of the joy of life in Christ” (or words to that effect).

Of course, I’ve failed more times that I’d care to admit.  But, even when struggling with parish admin late at night or perceived hostile comments, that motivation of love (received as well as given) has been a constant encouragement.  As another interregnum looms, I pray that I am not kidding myself in feeling there is a spirit abroad of greater confidence, a deeper sense of community and even some excitement amidst the anxiety for the future.  The fruit of mutual love, perhaps?

Going forward please, “do not neglect to do good and to share what you have”.  Most especially share, with each other and those who know it not, that precious gift of joy in the life of Christ.
Thank you for your love – receive mine.


The Rector Writes…


The last couple of weeks have been very full so I can certainly resonate with Martha and the distraction of “many tasks”.  Getting things done assumes a natural priority in our lives – we can sacrifice things that are for ourselves (as Martha might have seen the “luxury” of sitting at Jesus’ feet as her sister was doing) but when others are depending on us the sense of duty (and love) takes over and the tasks have priority (as the demands of hospitality for an honoured guest for Martha).

For me, the needs of the parish, the international development charity which I chair, the school of which I am a governor and the family (school holidays and all the preparations needed to get our new home ready for the move) have led to a certain amount of burning the candle at both ends.  Sound familiar?  I was, however, reminded in the week that you can only ‘give’ and draw on your reserves (spiritual, emotional and physical) if you take care to ensure that those reserves are regularly replenished.  “Love your neighbour as yourself”. For Christians prayer and worship, Mary-like, are crucial elements of such recharging. So, agreeing the schedule of worship during the ‘interregnum’ has been a crucial task.  The Sunday and mid-week services will remain as now except that a Parish Eucharist will be celebrated on the 5th Sunday and the Baptism services at St Nicholas’ will move to 11.30 a.m. – allowing some of the regular congregation to help with the welcome.

Enjoy the summer!


From the Rector…


In the church services on Sunday, you heard something of St Thomas’ story and had the chance to reflect on it.  I’d like to use these few inches to draw attention to our “Charity Cabaret” on 16 July.  This will be a great event to invite some friends and show them that we have fun together whilst also taking seriously our commitment to the wider community.  The “Cabaret” reference in the evening’s title is pretty obvious – and one of the reasons it is a “can’t miss” event.  The “Charity” reference has, I gather, given rise to some confusion.

So, to explain one aspect of that … The PCC puts aside a ‘tithe’ (10%) of its income each year (not counting any given for a specific purpose and after the deduction of certain costs) to give to other charities.  This is one of the means by which we seek to be friends and “constantly there” for those beyond our church family.

Each person who comes to the Charity Cabaret evening will have a part in distributing up to £2000 of this money amongst a range of charities – local, national and international.  There will be display boards on show at the Cabaret evening giving information about these charities.  The boards will also be on display at St Barnabas’ after the event until the end of July to allow those who were not at the Charity Cabaret to have a chance to have a say in which charities we support this year.

Do, please, take part and use your vote!


From the Rector…


All of our readings today speak in some way of God reaching out to all, offering love. The gospel reading in particular shows how sometimes the transformation that an encounter with Jesus brings (and demands) can be rather disconcerting – and how some retreat from it, preferring things to remain as they were before.  The PCC meeting on Thursday evening recognised that some of the energy and changes that have flowed from last month’s Vision Day, coupled with the forthcoming interregnum, have left some parishioners rather disconcerted – unsure of where authority and responsibility for implementing their ideas for change (or maintaining the status quo) lie.  There will, next month, be a general letter from the Wardens and me answering that question.  In essence, ‘though, whatever the offer of involvement, proposal or query, you should speak to one of the Wardens (contact details in pewsheet) who will be able to say whether there is a group already working on the matter and let you know with whom you should connect or whether you can go ahead with implementation.

You can, of course, also speak to Steve or me – although our main focus in the coming weeks is to enable and prepare those who are going to take forward the parish’s mission during the interregnum.  That mission, in the form of the Parish Plan – which is substantially the same as that circulated last month – was agreed by the PCC.  The PCC also agreed an exciting development – to employ a part-time Children & Families Worker.  This should ensure continuity for this growing area of our ministry and ongoing support for Messy Church and the family worship services.

Have a great week!


On The Move – Clergy Announcements

Clergy, Special Services
Dear Friends,
Those parishioners who were at the Special Parochial Church Meeting last night will have heard me announce that I shall be moving to a new role in September.  That role is as the Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey and the announcements can be found by following these links:
It has been a wonderfully rich time being a parish priest here in Crawley and I am deeply grateful to all of you who have supported my family and me in so many ways in the past five years.  There will be time over the coming months for me to express that gratitude in person – and I do hope you will be able to come to the ‘farewell’ on 4th September.  That farewell is likely to be for both the Burston and Ball families as, following my departure, Steve will be assigned a new training incumbent.  For 4th September, we are planning a Parish Eucharist at St Nicholas at 10.00 a.m. followed by lunch on the Rectory lawn.
Our move comes at an exciting time for the parish as we work to deliver the vision expressed in our Parish Plan, Growing Through 2016 and 2017.  The energy and commitment that so many of you have already displayed to taking forward that vision of growth in Christ, re-imagining ministry and serving the common good is a huge encouragement to both Steve and me as we focus our efforts on supporting and enabling you to flourish during this time of change and, of course, some uncertainty .
The decisions taken yesterday about seeking an early appointment to the Associate Vicar post, exploring the appointment of a families and children’s worker and the possible revision of parish structures in response to the Crawley Review are all elements that should help to enhance the mission of the church in this time and place – but it is your contribution, individually and collectively, using your God-given gifts, that will be decisive for the future.
Wishing each of you every blessing in that shared endeavour,

From the Rector…


Several times this week I have had cause to reflect on the glue that binds us together as a parish community.  Also on what difference the Holy Spirit, whose coming we celebrated last Sunday, makes in our lives (individually and collectively).  Looking forward to Trinity Sunday has proved a powerful backdrop to those reflections – reinforcing the experience of God as (or in) relationship.  One of the classic images of the Trinity sees the Holy Spirit as the love the flows between the Father and the Son with such intensity that the three are one.

It has been a real joy to see the enthusiasm with which all those who volunteered to take forward particular aspects of ‘future development’ in our common life that emerged at the recent Vision Day.  A tremendous release of people’s gifts that blesses us all – the effects of which are already being felt.  Yet in the excitement we need to remember that it is a common life – we are all part of a community, in relationship with each other, and that what each does affects the whole.  We have a responsibility to consider how our ideas and actions will impact on others – by tidying away this or changing that, we may inadvertently create difficulties for another group or person.  By the same token those affected have a responsibility for encouraging (offering solutions not just criticism!) those who are volunteering.  How we manage accountability and co-ordination as these ideas (the Spirit?) flow and find expression is one of the things the PCC will be considering in the light of discussion about the Parish Plan on Tuesday. But we can be sure that if we ground our relationships in God’s love, that has been poured into our hearts, we will promote mutual flourishing – reflecting and being bound into the divine relationship.

Give us this day our daily bread

Season of Prayer

In these last nine days, we have been joining together with our brothers and sisters in Christ across the country in reflecting upon God’s Kingdom and praying for the re-evangelism of this country.  This call to prayer from our archbishops coincided with “prayer” featuring prominently amongst the spiritual gifts identified by participants in the Network Couse and, at our Vision Day, emerging as a focus for our parish life.

We (the clergy) have spent the past two days in prayer and reflection seeking to distil the ideas from the Vision Day into a meaningful map of the way ahead, with prayer at its core.  However, sometimes all of us in our busyness of doing and reliance on our own strength and resources can forget this fundamental aspect of Christian life – prayer.  We have seen how the first part of the Lord’s Prayer has focused us on God, His Kingdom and our reliance on Him.  Today we reflect how the prayer moves from those statements to our own petitions or requests.

Give us this day our daily bread – well, bread was the staple diet in the ancient world of the Bible.  In saying these words, we are saying that we trust absolutely that everything we need will be provided by God.  This is not just our physical needs (such as food) but also our spiritual and emotional needs.  We are saying, “Heavenly Father, everything we have and everything we need comes from you”.  Often we only turn to God in the final stages of a predicament – when a marriage is falling apart, when we don’t know where the next source of income is coming from or when there seems no other place to turn to.  God can be seen as a last resort.  What this line from the Lord’s Prayer says to us is that we must be constantly asking and relying on God – right from the start of our endeavours, not just when things have gone wrong.

A few months ago, a group from the parish went to a day conference on “Growing Churches”.  We were challenged by the facilitator with this question:  “You have come here because you want your church to grow. Yes?  Well, how many of your churches are every day asking God to help you grow in numbers, in depth and in breadth?”  The many embarrassed looks around the room revealed that Worth Parish were not alone in not praying this obvious petition.

There is an old golfing story about Gary Player once being asked how come he was so lucky. He replied, “I practice a lot to be this lucky”.   Prayer is a little like that – the more we pray the more we see God’s presence in our lives – be this through answered or unanswered prayers.

This story was told by a Catholic priest who spent some time with Mother Teresa:
One day in the mother house in Calcutta there were about three hundred novices and they were all out for the morning. One of the novices working in the kitchen came up to Mother Teresa and said, “We’ve planned poorly; we have no flour to bake these chipattis for lunch.” (Chipattis are little flour and water pancakes.) The situation looked bleak – three hundred+ mouths are coming to be fed in about an hour and a half and there’s nothing to cook with. There’s no food.

“What I would expect Mother Teresa to do,” Fr. Langford explained to me, “was that Mother would pick up the telephone and call some of her benefactors and mobilize them to find some way to feed her daughters.  Instead, her reaction—her spontaneous reaction—was to say to this little one, ‘Sister, you’re in charge of the kitchen this week? Well then, go into the chapel and tell Jesus we have no food.  That’s settled.  Now let’s move on. What’s next?’” 

Lo and behold, ten minutes later there was a ring at the door and Mother Teresa was called downstairs.  A man she had never seen before was standing there with a clipboard. He addressed her saying, “Mother Teresa, we were just informed that the teachers at the city schools are going on strike. Classes have been dismissed and we have 7,000 lunches we don’t know what to do with. Can you help us use them?”  God provided for the needs of his children

Mother Teresa’s sanctity was built on a very simple foundation of deep faith and trust in God. Mother Teresa turned to Him in prayer, not only in need, but also to rest in the arms of the Father—body and spirit.  That is how Mother Teresa lived each day of her life; each day trusting God to provide her daily bread.

Please join us in praying for the growth of your church in this place – St Barnabas’ and St Nicholas’ – and particularly, today, for the residents of the area of Maidenbower to the south and east of Maidenbower Drive (plus Georgian Close) and to the west of Lucerne Drive up to Maidenbower Park.   Also for Maidenbower Junior School, giving thanks for the dedication of Allyson Croucher (Headteacher), all the staff, the pupils, the Governors and all those who make up the school community.


Thank You from the Rector


Thank you to the 40+ of you who participated in the Parish Vision Day on Saturday.

It was wonderful to hear the animated conversation and listen to the ideas that flowed as a broad range of parishioners contributed their thoughts to how we might develop over the coming years.

Our facilitator, Simon, the Rector of Ifield, skilfully provoked and captured the contributions and then challenged us to choose between them as he focused us down to three key goals under each of the headings: our spiritual and numerical growth in Christ; reimagining how we undertake our ministry; and how we will contribute to the common good.

Volunteers were provisionally identified to champion each goal and begin thinking through how they can be implemented.  Steve and I will spend two and half days this week on retreat to pray through the outcomes of the away day and seek to distil these into a plan that can be discussed in a General Meeting of the Parish and the PCC later this month.

So more on that later – meanwhile there is something concrete we can do under the “contributing to the common good” heading; you will see in the Notices section of this week’s pewsheet that Christian Aid Week starts next Sunday.  As the longest-running community fundraising event in the UK, CA week unites more than 20,000 churches to achieve incredible things.

Thanks to people like you last year Christian Aid raised more than £11m for our global neighbours in need.  Do contact Ann or Brenda if you can feel you can help this year.

Thank you.

Who Art in Heaven

Season of Prayer

When, in the Lord’s Prayer, we go on to say “who art in heaven”, we’re saying Heaven, God’s place, God’s home, is also our home. “Our citizenship”, says St Paul in one of his letters, “is in heaven”; that is, heaven is where we belong.  And the kind of relationship that exists in God’s presence in heaven is a relationship of love and trust and intimacy and praise that can be ours here and now.  Short, simple words, and yet they tell us that heaven is here on earth because of Jesus, and we can enter into that. For some heaven is up there, we are somewhere in the middle and down below is hell. Well, Heaven and Hell are realities today.

When people use the word hell, what do they mean?  Probably something like a place, an event, a situation devoid of how God desires things to be.  Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter–they are all hell on earth.  Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. As Christians we should want to do what we can to resist hell coming to earth, by loving our neighbour.  When that happens without an agenda or a transaction, just out of love, then we have each time a glimpse of heaven.

As a Church this is our most important witness to our faith.  An outward expression of love.  An example: a group of Christian students went out into their neighbourhood, they looked around and saw the homeless on their streets.  They wanted to walk alongside them.  What did they do?  They went out and bought lots of cigarettes and handed them out and chatted to them.  Their Church leaders said, “What on earth are you doing?”  They said, “Well, this is the thing.  What we found is that the homeless don’t get to die of lung cancer.  They die from drugs and alcohol and loneliness long before that.  The brief time we give them a cigarette we give them company and we say we are not judging you.  We’re with you.  We don’t then try to convert them, but if they ask why we are doing this we say, “because God loves us” and “we want you know he loves you too, no matter what”.  A small glimpse of heaven.

A quote from Mother Teresa shows us what our attitude should be:


So, our God “who art in heaven” – isn’t a distance and unreachable God, but a close, intimate God. We just have to reveal Him.

In our novena of prayer for the evangelisation of the nation, today we are praying for the area of Maidenbower to the west of Billington Drive and all the roads off Matthews Drive and Harper Drive (plus Mercer Close and Proctor Close) – an area which includes Oriel High School.  Our youth face a difficult environment today with so many more challenges, temptation and expectations.  As you pray for the School, please pray that they experience a glimpse of heaven, especially those just starting GCSE, A/S and A Level exams.

Novena Prayer

Almighty God

who in your Son Jesus Christ,

declared the coming of your Kingdom,

strengthen us in the ways of righteousness

and peace, that our brothers and sisters may

know the healing power of the gospel,

and that you will be done on earth,

as it is in heaven;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.