Category Archives: Rector’s Reflections

Revd Sue Mann

11th June 2020

Dear All,

This week, you have probably heard the news from the Government, that churches may open for individual prayer, from 15th June and that funerals can take place in church, with very clear instructions regarding how social distancing, etc. must be implemented. The wardens and I are currently in discussion and will be doing the necessary risk assessments to assess how we might best move forward. We are also in liaison with the other churches in the area; I will keep you informed but am sure you will  understand that there are many factors which need to be considered and that  we have a responsibility to ensure that people are kept safe, so  this may take some time. Chelmsford Cathedral  have  announced that they  will be opening for individual private prayer from 4th July.

We have beautiful, historic buildings which have been cherished and  nurtured for centuries, and within which prayers have been offered to God by people through many generations, for which we are thankful. It is, therefore, understandable that people are keen to get back into church, notwithstanding the sense of fellowship and community which many have missed greatly over the past three months; I, too, share that desire. But one thing which has become apparent over the past weeks is that the church  has  remained very much alive and kicking, despite its buildings being closed, and that our worship does not have to  confined to the buildings for it to be meaningful. The presence of  several  ‘new faces’ at our online and recorded services has been very encouraging. As clergy we have all been  urged to consider what church could be like when our buildings are open again, what a ‘new normal’ might  be and for us not to leave behind  the new, positive  things discovered during the lockdown.

Of course, we all long for new people to walk through our doors, to have full buildings on a Sunday morning, but for some people, I believe,  walking through those big wooden doors  is incredibly difficult and I would like to share an analogy. I am not purporting, in any way, to be holier than thou; that I am not, as most of you know! But one place I have never been is a betting shop. When  I walk past a ‘bookie’s,’ with its frosted windows, I have often thought, even if I wanted to go in , I wouldn’t dare because I wouldn’t know what to do, that naivety would be clearly written all over my face! And my guess is that many people who are unfamiliar with church might  have similar worries about going to a service, even if they  desperately want to attend. How hard it must be to walk through a massive wooden door when  you can’t see who or what is on the other side, or when the door is so heavy and thick that it is impossible to hear whether or not the service has started? ‘What happens when I go in?’  ‘What happens if I am not meant to be at that service; if it is for a certain group of people which doesn’t include me?’ These are very real concerns that people have. And that’s before  even entering the building and other anxieties such as ‘Do I have to pay?’ ‘Where should I sit?’ ‘When should I stand up and sit down?’ come into play.  As a priest and someone who has  been to church most of  my life, when I attend church services on holiday,  one or two  similar thoughts or fears about entering the building race through my mind. If I can’t see any lights on, I wonder if  they’ve changed the time. Or if the lights are on and there is no one outside, I wonder if the service has already started and I am late, even if I am arriving at  the time it says on the noticeboard. If, as a regular churchgoer, I have these fears, what, on earth, must be going through the minds of those who have never been to church before.

As churches, we do need to welcome people into our buildings and, as Christians, we need to encourage people to come to church with us, but gone are the days when we can just expect people to come to church on a Sunday morning as ‘normal.’ Statistics show that for most people today, Sunday morning church attendance isn’t ‘normal.’ As has been happening during the lockdown, we need to continue to seek additional ways of, sharing our faith with others,  and being church in our communities.

Before the lockdown, over the past two years we have introduced Messy Church at our three primary schools from 3.30pm until 5pm, for families, which has been great. In April we were  due to hold our first Forest Church, an outdoor church, for all ages. Over the past couple of years, we have held some outdoor services, where people who are walking past have been able to  join in without having to go through the whole ‘walking through the big wooden door ‘thing.

In Matthew’s Gospel, 28:19, Jesus calls  his disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ And we need to note the word ‘go’ as we  continue to seek creative ways of ‘being’ church in our local communities beyond our buildings,  keeping the Gospel message relevant  and  the Church vibrant in the years to come. I firmly believe that our foodbank collection is one way of  doing this, which has engaged people far beyond our regular congregations; it has triggered some great conversations and the response has been so positive  that this is something I hope we can continue, when the lockdown has finished. Once again, thank you for your support. And, just to let you know, requirements this week are condiments (ketchup, brown sauce, gravy, stuffing etc.) sponge puddings and jelly cubes. This week  they also require shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap / hand wash.

I know many of you have been  using the Lectionary for your daily Bible reading and prayer and the readings for the week beginning 14th June are, as follows.

DayMorning PrayerEvening Prayer
Sunday – Corpus ChristiPsalm: 147; Deut:  8: 2-16 1 Cor: 10: 1-17Psalm: 23; Proverbs 9:1-5 Luke 9: 11-17
Monday 15th  Evelyn Underhill, Spiritual WriterPsalm: 30; Joshua 14 Luke 12: 1-12Psalm: 28; Job 13 Romans 7: 1-6
Tuesday 16th Richard, bishop 1253 Joseph Butler, Bishop & Philosopher 1752Psalm: 36; Joshua 21: 43 – 22.8 Luke 12: 13-21Psalm: 33; Job 14 Romans 7: 7-end
Wednesday 17th Samuel & Henrietta Barnett, Social Reformers.Psalm: 34; Joshua 22: 9-end Luke 12: 22-31Psalm: 119: 33-56; Job 15 Romans 8: 1-11
Thursday 18th Bernard Mizeki, martyr, 1896.Psalm: 37; Joshua 23 Luke 12: 32-40Psalm: 40; Job: 16: 1 – 17.2 Romans 8: 12-17
Friday 19th Sundar Singh, Sadu (holy man), evangelist, teacher of the faith, 1929Psalm: 31; Joshua 24: 1-28 Luke 12: 41-48Psalm: 35; Job 17: 3-end Romans 8: 18-30
Saturday 20thPsalm: 42; Joshua 24: 29-end Luke 12: 49-endPsalm: 46; Job 18 Romans: 8: 31-end

Prayer needs this week include Nicola, Hazel, Rose, Dave, Jane, Steve, Steve, Dawn and Steve,  Please continue to pray for those recently bereaved and, especially the family of the two women tragically murdered in the park in London at the weekend.

As ever, please continue to let me know about any prayer or pastoral needs.

Take care and God bless,

Sue

Revd Sue Mann

5th June 2020

Dear All,

When I typed ‘Letter 13’ into my computer to save these words, I realised how long we have been separated from each other  in a physical sense but, friends, thanks to all your care and concern for each other, the community spirit here in Orsett, Bulphan and Horndon-on-the-Hill, is very much alive.

We are approaching Trinity Sunday and I do hope that those of you with access to a computer will be able to join our Sunday worship at 10am at hobnob.org.uk/watch And, if you can’t get to a computer, maybe you could try to pray with us at the same time,  knowing that we are praying with and for you and sharing the peace with you.

Did you know that the feast of Trinity Sunday began in England. Thomas Beckett, the martyr Archbishop of Canterbury first started celebrating the Sunday after Pentecost as Trinity Sunday 900 years ago, and it rapidly became popular across the Christian world. You may like to ponder the thinking of a couple of Christian thinkers with differing views on the subject:

  • Basil of Caesarea, made the point that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three names for different parts of God but a single name for God.
  • John Stott, the great evangelical, said that anything we say of one member of the Trinity, we must say of all.

This Sunday we will be reflecting on the outpouring of love and grace from the unity of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, at a time when the murder of George Floyd has sparked much unrest and protest, not only in the United States, but across the world. In the light of the statistics surrounding, not only this case but other similar incidents, I believe we, as Christians, are called to acknowledge that we still live in a society where institutional inequalities exist. Part of this call is to consider, prayerfully, what our response, both as individuals and as a Church should be, and to recognise, repent of and correct any bias, whether conscious or unconscious, remembering that each one of us is made in the image of God. You may find the prayer below, produced by the Church of England, in response to this recent global outpouring and the problems it has highlighted, helpful. It is a prayer we will be using during our service on Sunday.

God of justice,
In your wisdom you create all people in your image, without exception.
Open our eyes
to see the dignity, beauty, and worth of every human being.
Open our minds
to do the hard work of learning what racism is, and is in us.
Open our hearts
to repent of attitudes, behaviours, and speech which demean others.
Open our ears
to hear the cries of those wounded by discrimination.
Fill us with courage that we might seek to heal wounds, build bridges, forgive and be forgiven, and establish peace and equality for all in our communities.
In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

Your outpouring of love continues through the donations for the foodbank and thank you for your faithful commitment to this. The needs for the coming week are squash/cordial, chicken in sauce, bolognaise, ravioli, sausages in baked beans and jelly. The foodbank also have an ongoing need for toiletries and large size nappies (4,5,6).

With regard to worship, the Lectionary Readings for Morning and Night Prayer in the coming week are:

DayMorning PrayerEvening Prayer  
Monday 8th June Thomas KenJoshua 7 1-15 Luke 10 25-37Job 7 Romans 4 1-12
Tuesday 9th June ColumbaJoshua 7 16-end Luke 10 38-endJob 8 Romans 4 13-end
Wednesday 10th June  Joshua 8 1-29 Luke 11 1-13Job 9 Romans 5:1-11
Thursday 11th June St BarnabasJeremiah 9 23-24 Acts 4 32-endEcclesiastes 12 9-end Acts 9 26-31
Friday 12th June  Joshua 9 3-36 Luke 11 29-36Job 11 Romans 6 1-14

Please continue to pray for those who have recently been bereaved, whose grief has been  magnified by the restrictions of the lockdown. Please also keep Rose, Anita, Nicola, Joyce, Hazel, Dave, Steve, Steve, Steve, Dave and Frank in your prayers. I am not including surnames in these letters for reasons of confidentiality but, even if you don’t know some of these people or their circumstances, please do pray for each of them with the confidence and reassurance that  they are all known to God.

As soon as I hear any more about how and when we can return to meeting again for church services, I will let you know but, in the meantime, please be assured of my prayers for you and do let me know of any prayer or pastoral needs.

Take care and God bless,

Sue

Revd Sue Mann

29th May 2020

29th May 2020

Dear All,

As I write this, we are in between Ascension Day and Pentecost and also in the middle of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ when we are encouraged to pray for 5 people to come to faith in Jesus. I have the names of the people I’m praying for by the kettle in the kitchen, written on a cut out of a person, so that every time I make a cup of tea or coffee, I am reminded to pray for them. I hope you have managed to find a way of praying for the people that God has put on your heart at this time, which works for you.

You may remember I said two weeks ago that we raised between £500 and £600 for Christian Aid this year but, having spoken with several people since, who may have sent cheques or donated by phone, I think, as a Benefice, we must have raised well over £600, so thank you very much, to those who contributed.  I have also been greatly moved by people’s generosity in providing food for the foodbank over the past few weeks. I sometimes return home to find a pile of tins, teas bags and cereal boxes on the doorstep or I see someone I don’t know  pulling up outside in a car and emptying bags of food into our box. And I know that Jane and Kelly have been similarly moved by people’s generosity in Bulphan and Horndon. Needs for the foodbank , this week, include, sponge puddings, tinned rice pudding, cordial (squash), cereal (not porridge or muesli please), jelly and kitchen roll.

Thank you, also, to those of you who have been keeping a check on the churches, mowing the grass and phoning round parishioners; I know your help is greatly appreciated by many.

With the lockdown having been relaxed somewhat I am still awaiting news of exactly how and when we might return to meeting again for church services and I will keep you informed, as soon as I know anything.  The proposal from the Government has always been that church services may begin from  4th July, if everything goes to plan, but we are unsure exactly what form these services might take. In the meantime, please do join our Facebook Morning and Evening Prayer services at 9am and 7.30pm respectively: @HOBNOBChurches. You can find these services by going to the Facebook page directly or by going to the website, hobnob.org.uk/watch and then clicking on the link to our daily morning and evening prayer services. And do remember our weekly Sunday morning service at 10am at hobnob.org.uk/watch. If you are unable to access these services electronically, you may like to join us by praying at home at the same  times with the prayer booklets you have received or your own prayer books. The readings for this Sunday are: Acts 2: 1-21 and John 7: 37-37.

And, for those of you who are saying Morning and Evening Prayer,  which I really recommend, these are the Lectionary Readings for the coming week:

DAYMorning PrayerEvening Prayer
Monday 1st June Visit of the Mary to Elizabeth1 Samuel 2: 1-10 Mark 3: 31-endZachariah 2: 10-end John 3: 25-30
Tuesday 2nd JuneJoshua 2 Luke 9: 28-36Job 2 Romans 1: 18-end
Wednesday 3rd JuneJoshua 3 Luke 9: 37-50Job 3 Romans 2: 1-16
Thursday 4th JuneJoshua 4: 1 – 5.1 Luke 9: 51-endJob 4 Romans 2: 17-end
Friday 5th JuneJoshua 5: 2-end Luke 10: 1-16Job 5 Romans 3: 1-20
Saturday 6th JuneJoshua 6: 1-20 Luke 10: 17-24Exodus 34: 1-10 Mark 1: 1-13

Please continue to pray for include the homeless; the Grays Friday Soup Kitchen is making plans to be up and running again from 12th June.  Please also continue to pray for those affected by the cyclone in India and Bangladesh, the families of those killed or injured as a result of the Pakistan Airline plane crash, an easing of the tensions between Hong Kong and China, those affected by the attack on the Afghan Maternity Unit and refugees in camps where the Coronavirus is sweeping through.

More local needs for prayer include Joyce, (O), Hazel, (H), Dave )H), Anita, (B), Steve, (H), Steve, (H), and Steve, (O), as well as the many people who have recently been bereaved.

To finish with, I would like to share a reflection from a Society of Missionary Oblates, for Pentecost:

If ever there was a line of poetry that captures the energy and power of Pentecost Sunday, it is this line from Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, ‘God’s Grandeur,’ ‘the world is charged with the splendour of God’. The Resurrection of Jesus reaches its powerful climax with an out pouring of life, light and energy for his followers. After Jesus’ crucifixion this small group of men and women were hiding. They were afraid and had lost all heart and hope. But through the gift of the Holy Spirit they are filled with courage, enthusiasm and determination. Given new life and hope, they went out into the streets and market places and loudly without our fear, proclaimed the good news of the Resurrection; the missionary church is born as they were charged with the splendour of God.

It would be a mistake to think of ourselves today as being any different from these men and women.  As Christians, each of us has been filled with the life and power of the same Holy Spirit. Today in our homes, parishes and communities, schools and places of work, we too are called to be living witnesses of Christ in and for the world. We need not be worried or afraid of this great responsibility, for God has filled each of us with his own Spirit, ,’You are my servant, whom I strengthen, in with whom I am well pleased, I have filled you with my spirit.’ (Is. 42.1)

So on this great feast of Pentecost, let us open our hearts and lives to the power of the Holy Spirit, as each of us are charged with the splendour of God.

As ever, please do keep in touch and continue to let me know of any other prayer and pastoral needs.

Take care and God bless,

Sue

Sue

Revd Sue Mann

22nd May 2020

Dear All,

I hope you are well. I have seen a few more of you since the lockdown restrictions have been slightly relaxed.

Although Ascension Day was on Thursday 21st May, we are celebrating it on Sunday 24th May. Do remember that Ascension Day marked the beginning of the global prayer initiative, Thy Kingdom Come, which takes place between 21st and 31st May,  during which period we are encouraged to pray for  people we know, to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Now we are out of the Easter Season, we will return to Morning Prayer for Ordinary Time. Those of you who receive this letter by post will have received Morning and Evening Prayer for Ordinary Time when the lockdown began and, for those of you who receive this letter by email, you should have also got the new version of Morning Prayer attached to your email.

The Lectionary Readings for the coming week are:

DayMorning PrayerEvening Prayer
Monday 25th May The Venerable BedeNumbers 22 1-35 Luke  7 36-endDeuteronomy 31 1-13 1 John  2 18-end
Tuesday 26th May Augustine ArchbishopNumbers 22 36- 23 -12 Luke 8 1-15Deuteronomy  31n14-29 1John 3 1-10
Wednesday 27th MayNumbers 23 13-end Luke 8 16-25Deuteronomy 31 30 – 32- 14 1 John 3 11-end
Thursday 28th  May Lanfranc Monk ArchbishopNumbers 24 Luke 8 26-39 Deuteronomy 32 15-47 1 John 4 1-6
Friday 29th MayNumbers 27 12-end Luke 8 40-endDeuteronomy 33 1 John 4 7-end
Saturday 30th May Josephine Butler Social ReformerNumbers 32 1-27 Luke  9 1-17Deuteronomy 16 9-15 John 15 26- 16-5

Thank you for your continued support of the foodbank. This week they need tinned peas, packet mashed potato, tinned carrots, tea bags, tinned potatoes, cordial (squash), custard and rice pudding. The foodbank are thankful for the blessings  they have received in donations of food and money and they request prayers for their volunteers and their continued good health and, of course, prayers for their clients and their situations, each of them known to God.

Please also continue to pray for Roy and Lyn (H), Dave (H), Steve (O), Steve, (H),  and also the Anderson Family, and the family of Jazz, following their recent bereavements, as well as the many others that have lost loved family members and friends over the past few weeks.

Prayer needs, further afield, include the homeless, following the Government’s recent decision to  cut the additional funding they  provided at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. Please also continue to pray for those affected by the cyclone in India and Bangladesh and the families of those killed or injured as a result of the Pakistan Airline plane crash and, of course, an easing of the tensions between Hong Kong and China.

Following Boris Johnson’s talk a couple of weeks ago, there has been a lot of speculation regarding churches and when we might return to worship in our buildings. Although it has been said this may take place at the beginning of July, and that small weddings may even be allowed from the beginning of June, there has been no official guidance from the Church of England yet, as they are reliant upon Government advice. All I do know is that Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London, who is part of the working committee to discuss this, has stated that church worship is unlikely to return to normal  for some time. However, I will wait  to receive specific guidance from the Church of England, before I impart any information!

Don’t forget our online Sunday service at 10am at hobnob.org.uk/watch

Please do let me know of any other prayer and pastoral needs and I look forward to hearing from you or maybe seeing you, albeit at a distance, soon.

Take care and God bless,

Sue

Revd Sue Mann

18th May 2020

Dear All,

Yesterday, it was the 6th Sunday of Easter. Those weeks seem to have passed by quickly, with so much happening.

Our focus for yesterday’s service was John 14: 15-21 and Max led a game of Simon Says and spoke about God’s love for us and  the need to follow Jesus’ commandments. This is Max’s summary of his talk:

‘As Christians there are lots of religious things we don’t have to do, like following the rules of Shabbat, or the Jewish food restrictions. But when Jesus says do something, we should do it. This is because as his people we should love him, and if we love him we will do what he asks. 

If Simon says stand on one leg and rub you belly in an anti-clockwise circle while patting your head, that would be very hard. Try it for yourselves! Likewise, Jesus wants us to do some very hard things, like forgiving people and loving people we may not even like. But because we love him, we have to try. This is how we get to know Jesus better.’

One way of showing our love for God and for others is in our giving, and it is great news that, after setting up our Christian Aid online giving envelope last week, where our target was £300, this Benefice has raised between £550 and £600 for the Christian Aid Coronavirus Appeal to help Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa by providing clean water, good sanitation and medical supplies. Thank you, so much, for all your contributions; I recognise that some of you may have also sent a cheque or donated by phone.

Thank you, also, for your contributions to the Foodbank; this Benefice is doing a great job! This week they need tinned potatoes, sponge puddings, snack meat, eg. ravioli, sausages in beans, spaghetti bolognaise, cooking sauces (korma, sweet ‘n’ sour, mushroom, hunter’s chicken, chilli con carne, honey and mustard etc,) hot chocolate, tinned carrots, mashed potato and tinned spaghetti.  They also need some large sized nappies.

You may have heard that priests are now able to go into churches to pray if they live close by and are able to stream services from their churches. However, congregations are not able to worship in churches at the moment and for this and a number of other, largely practical, reasons, I have decided to continue recording our services from The Rectory and will lead services from church at such a time when we are able to worship together.

Just a reminder that it is Betty’s funeral service in Horndon, this Friday at 1pm. The same restrictions as before apply, but I am sure that if anyone feels able to stand in the road to offer their support,  Eddie, Lin and the family would appreciate it. Please do hold them all in your prayers

at this difficult time. And please do continue to pray for Roy and Lyn (H), Dave (H), Steve (O)  and the Anderson Family, following their recent bereavement.

On the subject of prayer, Ascension Day, this Thursday, (which we will actually be celebrating at our online 10am Sunday Morning Service on Sunday 24th May), marks the beginning of the Church of England’s Thy Kingdom Come initiative. Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension Day (21st May) and Pentecost (31st May) for more people to come to know Jesus. I invite you to join with me in doing that. If you would like some resources to help you with this, you can find information by clicking on this link: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/thy-kingdom-come

Also, the Lectionary Bible readings for this week are:

DayMorning PrayerEvening Prayer
Monday 18th May  Numbers 16 1-35 Luke 6 27-38Deuteronomy 26 1 Peter 4 1-11
Tuesday 19th DayNumbers 16 36-end Luke 6 39-endDeuteronomy 28 1-14 1 Peter 4 12-end
Wednesday 20th May  Numbers 17 1-11 Luke 5  7 1-102 Samuel 23 1-5 Colossians 2 20- 3 -4
Thursday 21st  May   Ascension DayIsaiah  52 7-end Hebrews 7 26-end2 Kings 2 1-15 Mark 16 14-end
Friday 22nd MayNumbers 20 1-13 Luke 7 11-17Deuteronomy  29 2-15 1 John 1 1- 2 -6
Saturday 23rd MayNumbers 21 4-9 Luke  7 18 -35Deuteronomy 30 1 John 2 7 -17

And if you have been using the Morning and Evening Prayer booklets,  Ascension Day would be the time  to revert back to the original Morning and Evening Prayer booklets which I delivered when the lockdown begun.

Take care, do let me know  of any prayer needs,  or practical needs, particularly relating to gardening, as  one couple have kindly offered their help, and I look forward to seeing you in the not-too-distant future.

With love and prayers,

Sue