Category Archives: Markbeech

Patronal Service Holy Trinity Markbeech

It’s Trinity Sunday this Sunday and Holy Trinity Markbeech are having their Patronal Service at 11am.

Most churches are named after a Saint – their Patron Saint and so have a festival on their Saint’s day, but at Markbeech we are named for the Holy Trinity so our special Sunday is Trinity Sunday.

MB Patronal Service

Sermon preached by bishop Tom Frame

Bishop Tom Frame from Australia made a visit to the Benefice on 22/23 April with his wife Helen. There were many friends old and new in Markbeech church to hear his sermon which is copied below. We thank him for allowing us to reproduce it.

 

“It is a blessing for Helen and I to be back in the only place outside Australia we have ever called home. This church, this village, this Benefice – all left a mark on our entire family for which we are still grateful. This morning I am especially conscious of friends, particularly the absent and the departed, especially Canon Derek Blows, the Reverend John Lee and Emily Turner. We have felt keenly all the deaths of those we befriended during our time in the Benefice (October 1996-August 1997) and were reminded in the case of Emily that much in life is unexpected.

 

As I reflect on the previous two decades, on what has changed and on what has remained unchanged, I am conscious of the three abiding elements in the Christian journey: the gift of faith, the call of discipleship and the challenge of obedience. These three things remain integral to Christian living or one is not living as a Christian at all. And these three things are commended in today’s Gospel reading from John chapter 20, verses 19-31. To appreciate the significance of this portion of Scripture we must ask two questions. First, why is it included in the text? Conversely, would it make any difference if it were not included? Second, given that John can’t resist the allure of symbolism, is there a symbolic meaning embedded in the whole passage that we need to discern?

 

The Gospel reading is well known to many. Jesus appears to his disciples. It is a text that has attracted some controversy in relation to Jesus’ remarks about the transmission of authority to forgive and retain sins … but there are some important statements of fact that we should not overlook. The context is straightforward. Ten of the remaining eleven disciples (Judas has committed suicide) are together in one room. Thomas is absent. There is no indication of the reason for his absence or of his present location. Perhaps he is hiding – alone; perhaps he is feeling let down and prefers solitude; perhaps he is contemplating returning to his former home. We do not know.

 

But when Thomas is reunited with the eleven disciples a week later, he hears their testimony that Jesus has risen from the dead. Notably, he refuses to believe. He demands evidence. In this instance, he wants physical evidence. Jesus again appears to his disciples and speaks directly to Thomas whose demand for evidence is evidently satisfied. Thomas then pronounces: “My Lord and my God”. But he receives no personal credit for this declaration of faith. In fact, he is chided by Jesus. He is advised that some will come after him whose faith will allow them to believe without the benefit of the kind of experience he has enjoyed. These people are more blessed than he. The encounter ends with what we might read as harsh words from Jesus.

 

So we need to ask: what specific work is this text doing in John’s Gospel? Why is this encounter included? What purpose does it serve? It seems to convey five important insights. First, John wants to say that people believe at different times and in different ways. Second, John observes that we respond to different kinds of evidence and require different standards of proof. Third, John explains that God is not indifferent to the way our minds allow us to accept truths. Fourth, John reminds us that we need eyes to see and ears to hear but also spirits willing to accept our heart’s judgements. And fifth, John insists that there comes a time for conclusion, for decision and for action. Analysis can never be allowed to morph into paralysis.

 

Without this text, these critical points about believing may not have come to our notice. We might have thought the disciples believed everything and all at once; that they required no evidence and that faith involved no persuasion. We might, therefore, have been misled into thinking the disciples were all alike or that one single encounter with the Risen Christ relieved them of doubt for all time. Rather, the resurrection reality dawned on them over time, through a series of encounters and experiences, before it was an internalised reality that shaped their entire outlook.

 

And what of my second question: where is the symbolism? It starts with the person to whom this second resurrection appearance was designed to affect – Thomas. The disciple Thomas appears at several key points in the Fourth Gospel. We encounter him in John chapter 11 when the disciples tried to dissuade Jesus from returning to Jerusalem (where his life was previously threatened) because his friend Lazarus had died. The disciples urge Jesus against the journey fearing their own safety. Thomas announces: “Let us go with him to Jerusalem and we will all die with him”. This can be ‘read’ as weak resignation or as a bold commitment. In my judgement, he is resolute, defiant and determined. He is the one who urges courage among the disciples.

 

And we encounter him again in John 14. Jesus foreshadows his ‘departure’ to his Father’s house, a place of many rooms. Thomas asks him for an explanation of what these apparently cryptic statements might mean: “we don’t know where you are going, how can we know the way?” Is Thomas concerned that he can’t fulfil his calling to follow out of ignorance more than a deficit of courage? It is not clear from the text but we can conjecture. After the first resurrection appearance at which he was absent, Thomas is still resolute, defiant and determined: he will not believe. He won’t be swayed by others; he insists on making up his own mind. He appears to be the solitary one, separate from the group who never thinks that truth resides in the mind of the majority.

 

Then the evidence is presented powerfully and in a manner that addresses his needs. Jesus appears and invites him to touch his wounds and examine his injuries. This is the same Jesus; this is his master – now raised and responsive. Thomas believes and is chided for his disbelief before John adds by way of reflection: “these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that, by believing, you may have life in his name”. Belief prompted action.”

 

23rd April – 9:15am at Markbeech and the visit of Bishop Tom Frame

Many of us may remember around 20 years ago, a young Australian priest and his family from Binda came to live in Markbeech for some 10 months, while studying at the University of Kent. Tom Frame with Helen, his wife and daughters, Megan and Kelly had quite an impact on us as they immersed themselves in our parish life.
Once they returned home to Australia, Tom’s career developed. He went on to become Principal of St Mark’s Theological College training new priests, and in due course was appointed Bishop to the Australian Defence forces. Always something of an academic, today alongside farming interests, Tom is the Director of the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society at the University of New South Wales.
There will always be a welcome here for Tom and Helen, and we are delighted that they have found time to spend a weekend here on 22nd and 23rd April. To celebrate their stay, there will be just one service on 23rd April at Markbeech at 9:15am, and Tom will preach at that service.
Do come along to what will be a very special service – and join us afterwards in the village hall for coffee and cakes and a chance to meet and/or catch up with Tom and Helen.

Easter Day Services

Easter – a time of excitement, promise and hope. Everywhere you turn there are signs of Spring, of new creation – new birth and new beginnings. The Easter egg symbolises new life, but also it is a reminder of the sealed tomb from where Jesus rose to a new life – a resurrected and transformed life. There are so many Easter traditions and games associated with eggs – egg hunts, egg rolling, egg colouring (with dyes and paints), and a new one for me – egg ‘jarping’, where contestants tap each other’s egg until one breaks. A good hit was called a ‘dunch’ – then the eggs were eaten – heaven for chocoholics!

 

Games like this can help us to recall that our Christian faith hinges on the reality of the Resurrection. Faith isn’t about facts and historical accuracy, it is about trust even when the evidence doesn’t seem to stack up. So, as we say on Easter morning “Christ is Risen. Alleluia!” it is a reminder that though the tomb in which Jesus was laid was laid was forbidding, cold and dark, this is not the end of the story – it is the beginning of a new story – a story of transformation, and it reminds us that nothing, not even death itself is out of the reach of God’s love and compassion and transformation.

 

Here is a very brief extract from a poem by J Crum ‘Love is come again’, a prayer reflecting on this transformation, something that is still necessary in the world of today:

When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,

Thy touch may call us back to life again.

 

Throughout the Easter season there is so much happening on our Parishes (details in the centre pages), and I look forward to welcoming you whenever you can join us – even 6am on Easter morning is quite an experience! We greet the first light and go on to enjoy breakfast together.

 

I wish you a very happy and blessed Easter.

 

Priest in Charge

Wendy

 

Maundy Thursday

The service on Maundy Thursday at 6pm in Markbeech will be a wonderful choral service that celebrates the institution of Holy communion, and as it ends as the altar is stripped of its decorations, we are prepared for the darkness as Good Friday approaches.

Do come along and be inspired by beautiful singing as your preparations for Easter come towards their climax.

 

Maundy Thursday

The service on Maundy Thursday at 6pm in Markbeech will be a wonderful choral service that celebrates the institution of Holy communion, and as it ends as the altar is stripped of its decorations, we are prepared for the darkness as Good Friday approaches.

Do come along and be inspired by beautiful singing as your preparations for Easter come towards their climax.

 

Markbeech Book Fair was a success!

We had a hugely successful and happy day on Saturday 18th March at the book fair.
There was a busy stream of customers throughout the day keen to buy and the tables heaved with novels, biographies, cookery books, and an impressive history selection.  The children enjoyed their special area with cushions and books for all ages to flick through.
There was a buzzing atmosphere in the cafe area where we had a delicious selection of cakes and lunches and bread from the local company ‘Fresh Dough’. A fun, friendly, ‘best-selling’ event where we raised almost £800.
Thank you to everyone for your donations of books, cakes, soup, time and energy particularly in the mammoth set up and clear up. Special thanks to William Dickens for help over the Friday and Saturday and for manning the till throughout.
And apologies to the few people who we didn’t manage to collect books from in time for the fair this year – there is always next year!
FRESH DOUGH delivers homemade French patisseries and speciality breads to your door. Place your order by Friday 5pm on www.freshdough.co.uk or laura@freshdough.co.uk and wake up to the smell of pastries on Sunday morning.