All posts by Matt

Snakes and Families and Happy Ladders

Our White Christmas lowered the average age of the Christmas Day congregation considerably, as the snow kept many older regulars at home but not the younger and bolder ones who only visit from time to time. What was Christmas like in the days when we were young? asked Pastor Jim Beveridge, answering with Dylan Thomas’s description in “Conversation about Christmas.” *

“Snow was not only shaken in whitewash buckets down from the sky. I think it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees and settled on the postman opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunderstorm of white torn from Christmas cards.

“And the Church Bells? They rang their tidings over the bandaged village, over the frozen foam of the parks and ice-cream hills, over the crackling grass. And the Presents? There were the Useful Presents, – engulfing mufflers and mittens, made for giant sloths and balaclavas for victims of head-hunting tribes. And pictureless books and everything about the wasp – except why.

“And on Christmas Eve I hung at the foot of my bed Bessie Bunter’s black stocking, and always I would stay awake all the moonlight, snowlit night to hear the roof-alighting reindeer and see the hollied boot descend through soot. I was asleep before the chimney trembled and the room was red and white with Christmas.

“And in the stocking above, were there sweets? Of course there were sweets. There were marshmallows that squelched. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glacies and marzipan and butterscotch. And troops of bright red soldiers, and Snakes and Families and Happy Ladders. And last of all, in the toe of the stocking, a silver sixpence.

“Why can’t our Christmas be the same for me as it was for you when you were young? , “I mustn’t tell you – I mustn’t tell you – because it is Christmas now,” he concludes.

So what MUST I tell you today, asked Pastor Jim. Hear the Word of God about the Child born on Christmas Day, and turning to another Book, he read from Isaiah chapter nine, verse two: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light ,those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” And then to verse six, “For to us a child is born, to us a child is given and the government will be upon his shoulder and his name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace”

Finally to Luke chapter one, verses 30 to 33: “And the angel said do not be afraid Mary, for God has been gracious to you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will bear the title Son of the Most High – his reign shall never end.”

Pastor Jim closed with ‘a sort of parable,’ the story of a little girl who kept clamouring for attention when father wanted to read his paper. In the end he took a map of the world from the paper and tore it into small pieces. “Go into the other room and try to put this together.” In a very short while she was back with the map correctly in place.

“How did you manage to do that so quickly?” asked. her amazed father. She showed him that on the other side of the map had been a picture of Jesus. “When I got Jesus in His place, the world came out all right.”

Christmas is about getting Jesus in his rightful place in our lives, and keeping
Him there, so that our world and our lives come out all right.

* Appeared under the author’s name in an edition of Picture Post during 1947

December Squeeze


There was as air of celebration in the Village Hall at the December Squeeze Breakfast Club. The hall piano had been put in place beside the stage, and with our own musicians at the ready, we were all set for a carol sing-along. Word sheets scattered over the individual tables made it very easy to join in or choose a favourite, or just listen. Table decorations of winter greenery and tinsel strips added to the festivity, and breakfast included mince pies.

Two of the younger girls sang a version of The Holly and the Ivy from their school Christmas programme. There was no music to hand so they bravely sang unaccompanied.


At the handicraft tables there was the usual choice of activities. The younger boys and older men were drawn to the glass painting. Long-necked, dark blue bottles made a good ground for metallic paint. It is surprising how effective smudges of gold paint applied with a crumpled piece of tissue paper can be; even close-up they looked very much like a pattern of roses. The candles were also painted in similar style.

The mums tended to gather around the table decorations. Holly, ivy, even partly-open buds of pink carnations, deftly assembled into professional-looking centres for the Christmas table


Our Breakfast Club fell on the Second Sunday in Advent so we again lit a candle, this time on a cross made by one of our lady members, and decorated with alternate white and green rosettes. Pastor Jim Beveridge pointed out that the light represents Our Lord Jesus as the Light of the World. There is a general expectation that white is good, but when we pass white light through a prism, an amazing thing happens – it divides into the colours of the rainbow. Pastor Jim likened this marvel to the effect that Jesus brings into the lives of those who put their trust in Him. The ‘ordinary’ aspects of each of those lives are turned into extraordinary events as the Light of Jesus flows through us and touches the lives of others.

Next Squeeze Breakfast Club 3rd January, from 10am-12noon.

Parish News for December 2009


Just back from visiting
the Family in the Isle of Man, Pastor Jim Beveridge told the November
Squeeze Breakfast Club of a Victorian roundabout with sit-on horses
and ride-in boats, and driven by water.  Before the grandchildren
could enjoy their ride, Grandma had to move a lever – and everyone
had to wait Wait for the first trough to fill with water to overflowing,
then a slow movement to bring the next trough to the filling position

Could this be a picture
of your life? asked Pastor Jim. Static, unable to move on in faith? 
We need the love of God to be poured into our lives to overflowing before
we can carry along those who need to ride on God’s love and comfort. 
I am the only one who can move the ‘Stop God Working In My Life’
lever.  How much better to ride on God’s Wheel of Faith than
to be a static onlooker!.


As part of our November
Squeeze handicrafts, we covered shoe boxes with brightly-coloured gift
wrapping, ready to be filled later with boy or girl, age-related gifts. 
The local effort for this annual event for children in other countries
who may otherwise have nothing at Christmas is run by Pam Kendall through
the Village Information Centre, where a list of suitable items may be


‘Exciting,’ was Rev.
Nigel (mini-bus mystery trips) Lindsay’s summing up of his induction
to the Pastorate of the Congregational Church in Dundonald Road, Wimbledon. 
It was also the theme of his Vision Statement for God’s work in that
Church.  A congregation of between 80-100 danced around the collection
plate to a recording of the Ugandan Children’s Choir, and raised £420
for the distressed African village of Obamba, which sounds like an
exciting beginning.


Saltmine Theatre Company
is coming to our Church on Saturday 13th Feb. 2010 for a
one-hour drama presentation of “In the Beginning…” a fresh look
at the Creation story for teenagers and adults.  Admission is £5.00,
and tickets will be on sale in the New Year.


Squeeze Breakfast Club,
Village Hall, Sun. 3rd Jan. 2010 from 10am. All ages welcome.
Come when you wish, leave when you must.

Believer’s Baptism


As a Church, we stress the importance of arriving at a personal faith in Christ Jesus as Saviour from sin and Lord of the life of each individual believer.
We then expect the believer to follow the example of Jesus by being baptised, and at the same time, or soon afterwards, to receive God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in an unmistakable manner.

Although the liberal use of water suggests that baptism is a ceremonial washing, indicating an inner cleansing, Scripture emphasises the act as being buried with or into Christ and rising with Him to a new life (Romans ch.6,v4 and Colossians ch.2, v12). It is also “the pledge of a good conscience towards God.” (1 Peter ch.3, v21).

Finding God’s Will

Coral Being Baptised
Coral: For a long time I believed that I was baptised. I had been Christened as a baby in the Church of England, by sprinkling, and did not know much about it. I was taken to Sunday School from about the age of three, and later was Confirmed when the Bishop came and laid hands on us. For some time I attended a Baptist Church and saw my first Baptism by immersion, but told myself – I have already been baptised.

A second problem was that I had also received the Holy Spirit, as described by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2, verse 39. “Repent and be baptised…in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” With many other people,I had gone forward at a meeting in Scarborough, where hands were laid on me and I felt a pleasant, vibrating power beginning at the crown of my head and going right through me. I was told to have faith that I had received the Holy Spirit and that He would bless many others through me. Did not this indicate that God had accepted my infant baptism?

Looking again at Acts, this time at ch10 v34-48, “The Holy Spirit came upon all who heard the message (v44), and the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. That was the next hang-up blown away, baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit could happen in any order.

I had no memory of my baptism as a baby, I may even have slept through it. I kept looking in the Scriptures to help me make the right decisions, and found in Acts ch19. v1-6, Paul at Ephesus asks some disciples whether they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. The surprising reply was that they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit when they had been baptised by John the Baptist.

Paul told them; “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. John told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus. On hearing this they were baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

Reading through the Scriptures, the disciples are very insistent that turning away from our old way of life (repentance) followed by baptism in water and receiving God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, all belong together.

My final hang-up was waiting to feel happy about it. Since we came to this church in 1994, I have been faced with Believer’s baptism and dreaded the embarrassment of the public ceremony. Then someone in the church one day described how he had also dreaded his baptism, so I accepted that I must be baptised, and now I feel happy about it! In fact, (looking into the pool), it looks quite inviting. I am here today because I want to please God and do His Will and that’s all that matters really, isn’t it? So here goes!

Knowing Christ Better

Betty Being Baptised
Betty: Thank you everyone for coming to this special occasion today; it is a great honour for me to have you all present as witnesses.

I am told that I was Christened originally in Salisbury cathedral when I was a baby, but I remember nothing about that. Since coming to this church regularly, however, I have got to know Jesus better, and had begun to think, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be baptised in our church – it’s my church as well – and feel that I was really part of this lovely Fellowship.

So that is how I came to decide to be baptised this morning. I hope all of you can relate to this brief account. When you are young you think nothing about faith in God, but as you get to know Christ better, you become more friendly and receptive of all that believing in Him involves, and feel more able to take this step which I am taking today.

Thank you again for being here with me.

Baptistry Steps


For a long time we have had problems getting in and out of our baptismal pool because there were no permanent steps. The day before this baptism, with an infirm candidate, we were led to a set of swimming pool steps languishing in a barn, which when cleaned, fitted the purpose beautifully..
Praise the Lord !

Joyce Arnold

Joyce Arnold

20th May 1928 – 6th July 2009

Remembering my Dear, Kind, Gentle Joyce.

‘To know her was to love her’
final tribute by her husband Harry

A eulogy delivered at her funeral on 17th July by Jem Sewell

Joyce ArnoldAs we gather to give thanks for the life of Joyce, a life that was both full and varied, a life that touched many people, I want to take this opportunity to tell you just some of the details of the 81 years.

Joyce was born in Portsmouth where her father was based in the Royal Navy. She was the middle child with an older brother Des and sister Pauline. Her early life involved several moves of both home and schools starting in Brighton where her father had a smallholding and then the Upper Dicker, Victoria Road Herstmonceux and then to Grove Hill to another smallholding while attending schools in Herstmonceux and Hailsham. Due to the war Joyce left school at 14 and started working for Mr Ade at Grove Hill Farm alongside Steve Bovis where she quickly learnt to drive tractors and handle machinery exceeding the work done by the men!

When Joyce was 19 she married Bernard Ford and they settled at Nearby in Cinderford Lane, a small bungalow with no mains water or electricity. They started a contracting business and worked together ploughing fields, making hay and cutting corn on local farms. Anne was born and often spent many days of her early years travelling with them as they moved from farm to farm, reputedly content to be contained in the baler box and looked after by their dog! ( Those were the days!)

Joyce was a homemaker, gardener, decorater, and with help enjoyed breaking in her own horse as well as rearing chickens from day old to point of lay. In 1958 they moved to Lime End Farm, Herstmonceux and farming took over from contracting. By this time Joyce had had their second child John so there was less work for her on the farm.

However, as well as running the farmhouse and garden, Joyce also bred and traded several horses and ponies, and regularly attended the local hunt and gymkhanas with Anne. She was an excellent cook with many people enjoying hospitality at Lime End and some stayed for extensive periods of time. Steve Bovis was one of these (he had been their best man) and on one occasion a steel girder fell off a trailer injuring his leg. Joyce went out and lifted it off and when later Steve tried to move it he couldn’t! For this he gave her a gold Rolex watch.

A third child Alan was born but Joyce continued to care for others including her parents up until their deaths and her brother Des who stayed with them at the farm prior to being in a home in Hailsham. She was industrious breeding canaries, budgies, finches becoming a member of Hailsham Bird Club as well as rearing Siamese cats.

The operation of agricultural machinery gave way to domestic machines and her sewing machine and knitting machine produced many fine garments which were often given as birthday and Christmas presents. True to the “female” claim she was a real multi-tasker cooking lunch, having a conversation whilst the radio or TV were on and if you suggested turning them off she indignantly replied that she was listening or watching!

Joyce ArnoldBernards untimely death in 1992 brought about great changes in her life and she subsequently looked for other opportunities to meet people and soon put her energies into Bowls at the Hailsham Bowls Club. Here she met Harry and he encouraged in areas of Art and Dance. Again Joyce quickly became skilled at both winning Ladies Pairs trophy at Bowls, achieving high standard in Line and Wash watercolour and with Harry achieved the Gold Medal standard at both ballroom and Latin American dancing winning a Rumba competition. Their friendship deepened to love and they were married at Boship Farm Hotel which had farming family connections and afterwards moved to “Foxes Corner” at Stone Cross.

The next fourteen years Harry describes as “sweetheart”years, – no work, no children to rear and no money worries yet still close to Joyces family. This was sadly curtailed by the diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. Harry became her carer with increasing dependence – as a family we feel he did a superb job. She died at home with Harry attending her.

Joyce as I knew her was not a church goer. She cared for people was very good looking, kept herself well and worked hard at all she did. Her faith was not evident but in conversations with Anne it was clear that she had a strong faith in God. As evangelist Angus Buchan when quoting the Bible says “Good people don’t go to heaven – Believers go to heaven.”

Joyce died a believer so she is not here. She is at peace with Him in heaven.