There are many occasions through the year when Hambledon shines as a community. Bonfire night organised by some of the menfolk is one example of this, shortly followed, more sombrely, by Remembrance Sunday when we gather to remember the fallen from our community and those known more personally to us. The reading of the names of those fallen during the two wars from this village is a moment when I never fail to be struck by how a generation of men, and in many cases it would seem, generation of families were laid waste but not forgotten.

Great trouble has been spent putting together a book of remembrance for these men, and as a churchwarden it is my privilege to turn the page once a week to reveal again another lost member from this community. I often wonder what they would have added, had they not been struck down in their prime and how different our community would be if they had not died. It is a question that has been with me since child hood, my grandfather was killed in the weeks following D Day, before my mother was born, how would her, and in turn our lives have changed had he lived? My mother would not have had a sister, or at least not the same sister, nor a loving and gentle stepfather and a childhood in Jersey. So one cannot turn back time, but we can and do remember those who laid down their lives for our freedom and the greater good.

Our church community has worked hard through this year of interregnum to fill the space left by Heather and Robin a year ago, to grow in community with our neighbouring parishes and to plan for a future which will involve sharing our, and benefitting from, the talents that are spread across the new benefice. This will be strange for us we are used to having a Vicar living in our midst able to be with us for all Sunday services, we will be sharing this and perhaps there will be times when we reminisce for the old days but we should look for the huge benefits that this change brings us and the new friendships and links and opportunities for learning new ways, that will be provided. We like to think we are outward looking, now in this small way we can show this. We hope that by the time you read this we will be in the process of interviewing our New Vicar and will shortly be in a position to let you all know who that will be.

Christmas is nearly upon us and much preparation, I am sure, has already gone on even before the season of Advent, the church’s time for preparation. Advent as a time for preparation means reflection on our readiness to meet the baby Jesus anew, out of kilter with our modern world of preparation of gifts and huge meals. The two are important and those homes where the remembrance of the birth in Bethlehem and a huge meal is supplied is a happy one!

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New year.