This Month

September 2020

September is the month for fresh beginnings. It is the month when many children go to school or college for the first time. It is also the month when many clubs and groups resume their activities and meetings after the summer break. It is the month when many will start their first job.

We put great store by our firsts. The first step a baby makes, their first tooth, their first word these firsts are eagerly awaited by parents and grandparents. As we get older it’s our first kiss or first friendship. There are probably also firsts that we perhaps would rather forget such as the first parking ticket, or the first time you realise you have been lied too. We remember and often record our firsts not because they are extraordinary but because they are important to us and we want to remember them. Perhaps in some ways we think they give an indication of the future. We hope that the first day at school will lead to a university degree and a brilliant job and the first kiss will be with the one true love of our
life. But in reality the first day is simply the beginning.

This year of course there is some trepidation for the first day of new beginnings. Many questions are probably on our minds at this time. Will it be safe for children to return to school? Will it be safe to go to university? Will we be able to hold more normal church services by Christmas? Will Remembrance Sunday be happening amid the need to wear face masks in crowds. Will we be able to sing in Church soon?

Of course, like you I don’t know the answer to these questions and can only pray that we all remain as safe as possible. Hopefully if we are all careful this month will be the start of a return to nearer normal for us all.

May this coming month of September be for you all a time of new beginnings. Perhaps you now have the time to join a study group or learn something new? Perhaps you would like to be a member of a choir when lockdown is over? Perhaps you have often thought about attending an evening or day class? Perhaps this seems like the time to do something for
others. There are many possibilities and opportunities for new firsts and fresh beginnings.

I hope that you will be able to look back on this month of September as having been a time of rewarding and even an exciting first of some sort.

With every blessing
Revd Christine

August 2020

Do you remember the safe return from the International Space station of astronaut Major Tim Peake in June 2016 after 186 days in space?

It certainly fired up the imagination, of not only children but adults too I am sure. It was an amazing feat of modern technology. It opens up the possibility of learning more about the wonders of the universe in which we live. We live in an age which opens up such tremendous possibilities and opportunities; how many of us would like to space walk and look down and see the whole earth below us I wonder. We live in a fast moving world and the new exciting inventions and opportunities of today become the accepted facts of tomorrow. Perhaps even more in this year when we have seen so much sorrow, so much change to how we live and do things, we need to take some time to pause and breathe. Perhaps this breathing space will help us be grateful for the little things that we take for granted. Perhaps as we marvel and learn more and more about the universe and thank God for the wonderful world which He created.

Whilst not many, if any, of us will get the opportunity to visit the International Space Station the pursuit of knowledge and learning, the spirit of adventure it inspires is still to be valued. Jesus himself promised that we would be guided into the truth by the Spirit and it is important to always seek the truth. For truth and knowledge if used appropriately is a wonderful thing. If we use our new discoveries for good, rather than evil then the knowledge we gain can be used to enhance the world. Perhaps this year, as we wait for a Covid-19 vaccine to be found, is a time for thinking about the impact of decisions made now – will they be for the greater good and the good of the world, rather than the glory of an individual or a certain section of humankind?

The next few weeks are for many the time of the annual summer holiday. Today, as never before, we would normally have a plethora of choices, although may be not the International Space Station just yet! We might have been planning to go on safari in Africa, cruising in the Caribbean or to a campsite in France. Much of the decision will be dependent on not only our personal preferences but also on our age, health and financial resources; and sadly, this year on where we feel it is safe to go. 

There is no doubt though that we have a much wider choice than those who lived in days gone by. For many, at the beginning of the 20th century, the best they could look forward to was a working holiday in the fields. Today we have much greater expectations. This is all to the good. Our world has become a much smaller place, but does that lead to complacency. Do we take for granted the marvellous creation from God or do we use our knowledge to learn a truer dependency on God, are we truly thankful for the marvellous creation or do we still have to learn a truer dependence?

Whether you have a staycation or are off to visit some interesting place in the world I wish you all a happy and enjoyable summer break; I pray that it be a time of refreshment and recuperation for all.

With every blessing

Revd Christine

July 2020

Through Lockdown and on…

‘And remember’, Jesus ells us, ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 29:20). What words could be better, more needed and more relevant for today than those? During the extended time of lockdown many people have been feeling more isolated and cut off from their own communities, including church communities. People have felt perhaps as if they were alone, as if Jesus was not with them, as if they have been forgotten. As churches begin to open much is being written about how we should do this, what it means, and whether we can ever ‘return to normal’. I think we can most probably never ‘return to the old normal’ because so much has changed, and we have to adjust to new restrictions and new demands in order to keep ourselves and others safe.

Recently the Bishop of Norwich commented: ‘During lockdown I sense that Church of England communities have asked less ‘Will you come to this?’ ‘Will you buy that?’, and more ‘How can we help?’ ‘What do you need?’ ‘Can we pray for you?’

And goes on to that. ‘Far from being absent we have been more present serving our neighbours’.

We have needed to make a much more conscious effot to keep in touch with each other, we have encouraged and supported one another through this time And perhaps therefore the balance of being part of the church community has changed – and I hope it has and that it will remain like this. Finances and keeping the church building open is vitally important, don’t get me wrong, but ‘being a caring church family is, I think, as much so.

Jesus promises to be with us always. That’s not necessarily a promise that we will always be doing what we want. Sometimes we need to make a move to something new and different. This is the time now; this is the Church’s time. This is your time and my time, to look towards something new and different, collecting and taking with us the best of the past traditions, and adding innovations.

A Jewish friend of mine once told me that in his tradition there is a collection of ethical teachings, Pirkel Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) and that is one of which the rabbi says: ‘It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but neither are you free to desist from it’. (Pirkei Avot 2:16)

I had those words in mind as the ending to this, almost before I began it!

I hear those words in almost as an invitation to honesty, integrity, truthfulness, authenticity, and creativity. They hold a version of our work before us. I trust those words will lead me, and worship in its ‘new’ form, to a life worthy of Jesus.

With every blessing

Revd Christine

June 2020

I started writing this on Ascension Day and couldn’t help but recall that someone I knew said that this was ‘the day Jesus started working from home’!

It seems to me that it has been a long 40 days since Easter this year, due to the lockdown, but the current situation has helped me to appreciate how it might have been for the first followers of Jesus. They were filled with uncertainty but had signs of hope – for them, meeting the risen Lord Jesus, but they were still not sure of the future. And for Christians that remains the present reality too.

We’re still not sure when church buildings will reopen for public worship – and when they do, I think we need to be prepared that things will be very different to how they were before this pandemic. It’s possible that broadcast services will remain, so that those unwilling or unable to attend can still be fed spiritually, and while lacking the closeness of fellowship with others, the same risen, ascended Jesus will meet with us whether we are in church, or in our homes.

Because that’s what the Ascension is all about. Jesus really did start working from home. But unlike us this meant he was no longer limited by what makes us, and him, human. Before he ascended back to his Father in heaven, he gave to his troubled friends several promises.

The first was that they would receive another helper, another friend – The Holy Spirit – one who is like Jesus, but whose presence would reassure them once he had left. The Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost 10 days after Ascension and 50 days after Easter, which this year is the 1st June.

Second, he promised eternal hope. Jesus promised to prepare a place for us in his Father’s house – what an amazing image of eternal life. A place where we will be known and will know both God and our loved ones. This crisis has caused many of us to re-evaluate our lives, and for some this has meant regaining faith and trusting in a loving God, one who is close to us even when we at the moment have to be separate from others.

Jesus completed his work on earth, returned to his Father, and now, each and every day, gives hope to troubled hearts. Please do hang on to that, and remember I am here for you – practically and spiritually – don’t hesitate to call me on 01293 514976 or email me at revchristinestrichardscrawley@gmail.com

With blessings and prayer

May 2020

In the days after the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples met behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews” and Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Today, many of us are living almost “behind locked doors” but mostly definitely not “for fear of the Jews”, but “for fear of Covid 19.”

And that is bringing about a change in our ways of being and living, which feels almost as dramatic as the changes brought about to the early disciples by the resurrection of Jesus. For the early disciples, the changes in their lives were mainly long term. For us the changes may be temporary, but I suspect that for some, certain aspects will continue throughout the rest of their lives.

Just as Jesus came among those early disciples and said, “Peace be with you”, so Jesus is alongside us saying just the same. It is at times like this, that many of us want to think hard about our faith and about our priorities in life.

Our churches are closed and most of us are required to stay in our homes except for shopping, exercise and medical needs. This has had a number of implications, both positive and negative.

As individuals, we can’t do many of the things which normally keep us busy. This gives us the opportunity to reassess what is really important in our lives. It is hard not being able to get out to see family and friends or to see the newly born grandchild; it is particularly hard for those living alone but many of us are being much more purposeful in making sure that we do keep in touch with those in our social circle using the phone, or WhatsApp, or Facetime or Zoom or other modern ways of communicating. Perhaps this reminds us that, in normal times, we can let other less important things get in the way of ensuring that we stay in touch with those close to us.

As a congregation, we have quickly had to create a new way of being Church now that we can’t meet together to worship. We have had to learn to do “remote” church.  This for us here means weekly adapted service sheets, a prayer chain and phone calls. We will also have to explore other ways for smaller groups to get together “virtually” using Zoom or similar technology as we will need to hold the inevitable formal meetings which are part of church life!

We are learning a lot during this time, about ways of keeping in touch with one another – using some new ways and some old – and I am sure that some of these will continue to be used. The restrictions on our movement is making us particularly conscious of those members of our congregations who are housebound. And hopefully we are questioning whether we do enough in normal times to keep in touch, to give them worship opportunities, to make sure that their needs are met.

This is also a time to concentrate on prayer – not only praying for those serving sacrificially in the NHS and care homes, for all other key workers, for those who are suffering from Covid 19 and for the bereaved, but also just spending time focussing on the fact that Jesus is alongside us saying “Peace be with you.”

The lives of the early disciples were radically changed as a result of the resurrection of Jesus. The disciples had a new focus – to go and make disciples of all nations. This pause in our normal way of being and living also gives us the opportunity to consider afresh how God wants us to be and to live both now and when all this is over.

Let’s not miss this opportunity!

Peace be with you.

Revd Christine

April 2020

Over the past few weeks, the world has turned its full attention to the protein-thorned crown of COVID-19. It is rare to experience such a widespread global unease, in which we all find ourselves dwelling on the very same thing.

The news each day brings us stark figures – people are dying and by numbers so vast we cant easily comprehend. And not surprisingly people are scared. And we find ourselves stuck between the flippantly arrogant (“The coronavirus is just another flu”) and the fearfully paranoid (“We are on the brink of collapse”).

I suggest to you that it’s okay to be fearful—even if we are Christians. What should hopefully distinguish us is how we respond. Can we respond with love and compassion to those around us? Can our response return us to what the early pagans called the Christian Church “a religion for the sick”?

Have we got what it takes to care for the relatively elderly and the unwell – those we are called to pay closest attention too? Psalm 81 and Romans 15 make it clear that our call is to care for the vulnerable, those whom Jesus repeatedly identified with in the New Testament. But today we must do this within Government guidelines too, otherwise we stand the risk of making things worse not better.

So can you phone your friends and speak to them to check that they are ok; can you, if you are not in an at-risk category, offer to get essentials for your elderly neighbour next time you go out to get yourself supplies so that they dont have to go themselves; can you give money to the local food back so that they can continue to provide for those families who have nothing?

Perhaps most of all our Christian duty requires us to follow strictly the guidance we have been given and stay at home. However hard that is to comply with that will be the best way to respond with love and compassion and help the vulnerable and unwell get through this.

This will pass and more quickly if we play our part and then life can begin to be more normal again.


Currently the church is shut, and the doors are locked. But that doesn’t mean that the church has gone. Now is the time to rekindle your faith and pray. And pray for your friends your family, for your neighbours and for the vulnerable. Perhaps beginning with this simple prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ,

you taught us to love our neighbour, and to care for those in need

as if we were caring for you.

In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated

of our love, and your love,

for your name’s sake.

Amen.

A Prayer booklet is available for those who wish to join me from their homes in praying at midday Monday- Thursday and on Saturday. Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy via email. Adapted Sunday service sheets are also available.

Please stay safe and every blessing

Revd Christine Spencer

March 2020

Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent, falls this year at the end of February. During the service of Holy Communion, we had that evening we also have a visual reminder of our ‘falling short’ or sinfulness when we if we choose too have a small mark of Ash placed on our foreheads. 

This ash is made from previous Palm Crosses that have been burnt and mixed with Holy Oil. The sentence that is said as we receive this is ‘Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ’. It is a very special moment of rededicating our lives to Jesus, realising how we all slip and slide in our behaviour occasionally. 

Lent is then the time when we consider where we might be ‘going wrong’ or where we have fallen short and asking for help to change. We all need help because we are human and not perfect yet. So, during Lent we try to abstain from or give up something, and take something on new, which we hope will take us out of our comfort zone; that will make us more dependent on God and look to Him for help. This is not a time for judging each other, rather a time for helping each other. It’s good to share what we have decided to do that might be a challenge so that we too can help each other.

In our Lent course this year we will look at the Creeds – the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. Creeds are basically a short summary of what Christians believe. We say one of them during our services and sometimes they can become so familiar that we say them without thinking about what they mean. So, during the course we will be exploring the reason the Creeds were developed and looking at what role they play in Christian life and faith today.

The course will, I hope help us, particularly this Lent as we begin that rededication of our lives to God, to consider the way we live. 

Do come and join us on Tuesday evenings at 7pm from March 3rd for five weeks if you would like to explore and hopefully understand more about the Creeds and what they have to offer us today. 

With best wishes for a holy Lent 


Revd Christine 

February 2020

The Christmas decorations are down, and the world is quiet and darker – except that the days are getting longer as we can now look forward to spring. 

This month we celebrate Candlemas. We remember the time when Jesus was presented in the Temple and His mother Mary attended a service of purification, following His birth. A very significant moment for them both and for the whole family and community. 

Nowadays we continue to remind ourselves of this service, seemingly so long after Christmas that Jesus is the light of the world and He came to bring God’s light to the world – especially the places and areas of lives that had become dark and/or shadowy. So, yet again, we light a lot of candles in Church. It becomes a ‘candle-mass’ – remembering the event of His presentation and also what He means to us now.

Jesus was born, Jesus was presented and then Jesus was nurtured, to grow into what He became for each of us: a light to fill our darkness. So, if you are watching bulbs grow or planting seeds ready to nurture, take a moment to remember the Christ child – His birth, the early days of His life, the presentation and subsequent nurture, as you do so. This

month we do also have Valentine’s Day of course and being aware of love also reminds us of nurturing – after all, love is all about nurturing. Love itself has to be nurtured, but to love someone is to nurture, as well as enjoy them.

Jesus himself was nurtured, then He nurtured us and, (if we let Him) still does, so as we are reminded too of St Valentine, let’s not forget how important ‘nurture’ is. If you feel unloved or not nurtured, have a quiet word with Jesus and tell Him. Come into Church for a peaceful time with Him, and on a Sunday, before or after the service, visit the candle stand and light a candle asking him to shed His light into a shadow.

May I wish you all a lot of love and nurture this month!

Revd Christine 

January 2020

Happy New Year and new beginnings! 

It is a joy to be able to wish you a Happy New Year. Although this New Year represents the start of 2020, there are actually lots of times throughout the year when we celebrate new

beginnings. There is the new life at Easter and in the spring, there is the new school year in September and the church actually starts its new year late November or early December, with the beginning of the season of Advent. In between all of those, each of us recognises the start of a new year of life with our individual birthdays.

Whether it is the crisp new pages of a new diary or school book, there is something deeply attractive to a fresh start which appeals to us all. No doubt it is this enthusiasm which leads us to set New Year’s resolutions, as we try amidst the more grinding parts of daily life to hold onto the excitement of the ‘new’.

At Christmas we have just celebrated the most incredible ‘new’ of all. The birth of a new baby transforms everything for the family and community of which they are part, but this baby was different. This baby grows up to be the one who says, “I am making all things new”.

As we celebrate a New Year, the church reminds itself in the season of Epiphany that, just less than 2000 years ago, people were just beginning to realise who Jesus is and what he came to do. We remember the gifts of the wise men that show Jesus to be King, God and Sacrifice, we remember Jesus’ baptism where God identifies him as his son, and we remember the calling of the first disciples.

I hope that you have all had a blessed and peaceful Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus, and I wonder if in this New Year, you might resolve to discover more about what he did when he grew up. Whatever we resolve to do this New Year, we might end up joining the many who fail to keep their resolutions beyond a few weeks, but even if we fail, this Jesus still has something to offer us that is not based upon our own success. Although in December we remember Jesus as a baby, in January, we remember his new beginnings, his new ministry and his new place in the lives of his disciples, and he continues to call people to be his disciples now. 

Whilst it is a clichéd phrase, in January we need to realise that Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas!

With every blessing for the New Year 

Revd Christine 

December 2019


What present do you buy for someone who already seems to have everything they need? 

Many years ago, I bought my father a star. He had always been interested in astronomy and didn’t need any more slippers, socks or chocolate so I bought him a star. He was delighted. Obviously, it wasn’t somewhere we could take him to visit, but he loved the idea of a star being named after him. So, at Right Ascension 4hr 19min. 44.5 secs. Declination +3° 26’ 30.4’’ there is my father’s star. If we’re honest, we can’t see where it is, but we know it’s there! 

To have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame is seen to be the height of achievement and yet how many of those stars have faded? Who can remember even last year’s winners of X factor or Strictly Come Dancing? 

Contrary to what is portrayed on Christmas cards, the wise men did not arrive at the stable, following the star they had seen in the east. It probably took them about two years before they found where Mary and Joseph and the young child Jesus were living in Bethlehem. 

But for these men, they took a long journey to find a promised king. It wouldn’t have been an easy journey, yet they kept going. 

Whatever their motives were, perhaps to curry favour with the new king or to just be able to worship him, when they met this little toddler, there was something about Jesus, whose parents were clearly from very humble origins, that made these grown, rich and influential men bow down onto their knees and worship. 

Not only did they worship him, they handed over their very expensive gifts. Gifts which held great significance for Jesus’ life, but would also have been of practical use when the young family needed to flee to Egypt. 

These men were changed. They had met with Jesus. They had found their wisdom. The star they followed led them to worship the King of kings.

Which star do you like to follow? The star of a promising career, the star of relationships, the star of celebrity or sport? Will it be like the shooting star, that fades and disappears, or will it fulfil all your hopes and dreams? 

To follow the star that leads to Jesus brings us not to a stable, or a little house in Bethlehem, it brings us to the cross where he died. 

He died to bring us that new life, a life marked by love, a life that is forgiven and released from burdens of the past, a life that is filled with peace that passes understanding, a life which will last for eternity and a life that can rejoice in being loved by the King of kings, the bright Morning Star. 

With every blessing for a blessed, joyful and peaceful Christmas

Revd Christine