The benefice comprises four adjacent parishes: Farleigh, The Candovers with Bradley, Northington and Wield. The parish of Farleigh has four churches; Cliddesden, Dummer, Ellisfield and Farleigh Wallop. The parish of The Candovers with Bradley has three churches; Preston Candover, Brown Candover and Bradley.
The parishes together form the benefice of Farleigh, Candover and Wield which is served by two full time Priests: the Rector, David Chattell who takes primary responsibility for the Parishes of The Candovers with Bradley, Northington and Wield and the Assistant Rector, Stephen Mourant who has primary responsibility for the Parish of Farleigh.
Parish Prayer/Bible Reading Diary
The February - Easter edition is now available. We include prayers for our communities, those in need, and some of our regular church events across the benefice.
We are planning to employ a part-time benefice administrator, who will take on a lot of the administration Stephen currently does. Plans are almost complete – getting in place a job description, contract, handbook, application form, finances, timescale etc – and soon that role will be advertised across the benefice. You may have an interest as it would suit someone working from home for just a few hours a week, but will be vital, in due course, in managing service rotas, much of the wedding and some funeral administration, and serving the Lord by freeing clergy to focus on other pastoral areas that remain undeveloped. We pray that God will call the right person to this role – it could be you!
What might be an acceptable piece of artwork to place in your village, who could be celebrated by a bronze or stone sculpture of a local character perhaps standing beside the B3046 watching over all who pass through our benefice? By the way, our lengthy Benefice runs from north of the A339 by Basingstoke to fields south of Northington. Maybe an installation depicting a pack of cyclists (MAMIL) would be appropriate!
Statues are in the news as I write and are likely to be so in months ahead since they have become a focal point of debate about how parts of our history may or may not be celebrated. Much latent anger has been directed at those public visual reminders of historic figures, some of whose words and deeds, a combination of good and bad, are unacceptable to contemporary minds, and yet we still recognise the virtues of generosity, courage and fortitude as praiseworthy today.
Here’s a thought, about anyone who leads or heads up anything, what would stop people in years to come making a statue of these folk? Are they able now with acute self-reflection to recognise their failings and have the humility to change?
I invite you to reflect on two things: First, the famous words of Jesus addressing a crowd who wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery, “whoever is without sin, let them cast the first stone”. We might one day discover that those who are pilloried have been worthy of commemoration for some noble or generous act and that some of those cast in stone have committed hidden vile actions!
Who judges? Who can decide?
Secondly, years ago a man hung in public view, naked and shamed, bloodied and bruised and reaction to his death, amazingly prophesied 600 years beforehand like this,
“He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care”, “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins”.
Jesus death was misunderstood at first. Things changed after his resurrection as clearly God had vindicated him. St Paul saw that Jesus death and suffering was a fulfilling of all that Jewish law had taught and the sacrificial system was modelling for an event that one day would actually achieve these things: pardon of sin from God, give the peace God, bring the presence of God to believers and promise of eternal life, all achieved through Jesus’ death on a cross.
The symbol of the cross is prominent on buildings and even jewellery. It is one that many would tear down or ban with ridicule and mockery saying that we have moved on from that event, but the Bible says otherwise.
When we understand that there are probably good reasons not to make a statue of ourselves (and if there were it would have feet of clay, as per Daniel’s vision) we are in a healthier place and can acknowledge our need of God’s mercy. Scripture says to us, “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves…if we confess our sins (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
Politicians can never completely mend our world, though good governance is God given and the Bible instructs us to pray for those with authority, (Romans Ch 13 and 1 Timothy 2) in any sphere, whose duty it is to see that justice is done and individuals are protected from abuse, threat or harm so that there is human flourishing.
One day everyone will give an account to God of their lives. The Bible tells us that one day every eye will see Jesus and every knee will bow to him and He will judge all our deeds. (Revelation Chapter 20). Jesus will judge every person as he has all power and authority and against whom no voice will be raised and we are silent.
When we do speak it will be to join voices in praise and worship of the Lamb seated on the throne, the one who by whose death we have forgiveness of sins and life in God. Amen.