I happily said yes to the suggestion by our church wardens that I should write the article for this edition of the Hambledonian thinking that I would be able to tell you that a new priest had been appointed to the joint benefice of Newtown Soberton and Hambledon and provide you with some information about the person. I am pleased to report that interviews have been held and as I understand the situation somebody has been selected and agreed to accept the post! However because the Queen is patron of the benefice she has to be consulted about the appointment and formally make the appointment. Therefore all I can say is that she is being consulted and, hopefully, in the not too distant future we will know who has been called by God to serve as first vicar of the new joint benefice.

Behind the scenes work has been progressing in preparing to welcome that person. You will have seen scaffolding up around the vicarage and work is coming to an end in readying the building for its new occupant. The church wardens and ministry team are meeting regularly to consider how we are best able to continue to provide services and pastoral care to our parish. We are also meeting with the church wardens of the other parishes and Norman Chapman their reader. We are reaching out to each other in our endeavours to work cooperatively to encourage a positive attitude to the compromises that we will all have to make to support the new vicar of this joint benefice. We have arranged two joint benefice services. By the time this is published we will have celebrated Ash Wednesday together at St. Peter and St. Paul Hambledon. We are looking forward to our Maundy Thursday service at Holy Trinity Newtown. It has also been agreed to run joint lent courses with the early sessions being held in Hambledon and the later part of the course continuing in Soberton.  Congregations at all three churches are being informed of the services in all three churches and are being encouraged to visit the other churches.

It is inevitable that changes to the provision of services will have to happen and these will need to be consulted upon. With that in mind our church wardens have booked the village hall for the morning of 6th April to begin joint thinking of the future. The morning is titled “Stepping Forward in Faith”: The aim is to enable all everybody, that includes you, in the three parishes to come together to discuss the implications and opportunities for the United Benefice and how we can all work to support our new vicar. We are facing a challenging and, I believe, an exciting future. We pray for God’s guidance in all our thinking!

Easter will be fast approaching by the time this edition of the Hambledonian arrives on your door mat. This year it is very late. Traditionally Lent is a time for fasting and reflection. It provides a valuable opportunity for each of us to explore our own relationship with God and to reconnect with him. We then endure the roller coaster ride of Holy Week – The triumphant entry into Jerusalem, followed by Jesus’ anger in the Temple, the inauguration of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, betrayal, arrest and denial by Peter, the trial by Pilate, and the Crucifixion. Then there is the great excitement of the empty tomb and meeting the risen Christ on Easter morning. I believe these events are at the very heart of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

The Crucifixion
‘String him up,’ some repoman shouted,
‘He’s a weirdo.’ ‘In the bin, in the bin,’
Yelled another and grabbed some thorns,
Sharp as needles, twisting them round
A fresh-cut thorn branch. He made
A wreath and forced it down on his head,
The pain piercing his flesh. ‘Morning, vicar,’
This comedian said and darted twigs
At him, aiming at his eyes. With three
Nails, he nailed him naked to a cross,
lifted bitter drink to his lips, telling
Him drink and stop dropping off, hang
On a bit longer. ‘Now if he’s really something,’
He said, ‘He’ll get himself out of this one.
If you’re Christ, and if Christ is God’s
Son, come on down, off that cross.
We’ll believe it then, you’ve got life
On a string, you’re never going to be

A goner.’
‘That’s it,’
Christ said,
‘That’s it.’

His senses
Began to fade
Pale and piteous
like a prisoner
In death, the lord
Of life and light
Closed his eyes, day
Shrank back, appalled,
And the sun darkened.
The Temple wall
Shattered and split,
The solid rocks
Of earth ruptured.
It was dark
As thickest night,
Earth convulsed,
Quaked like a live thing.
The noise brought
Dead men clambering up
From the coffined depths
Who told why the tempest
Raged so long.
corpse said,
‘There is in darkness
Here a bitter fight.
life and Death
Destroy each other.
None can know
For sure who wins
Till Sunday
As the sun rises,’
And with these words
Sank back in earth.

From Piers Plowman, by William Langland
translated by Ronald Tamplin

I wish you a prayerful Lent and a happy and blessed Easter.

Graham Parr