Author Archives: Judy Bailey

Christmas Day Joy

One of our residents, Liz, was particularly filled with Christmas joy for our Christmas Day communion service as her son, Rt Rev Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, presided today and her daughter, Rev Dr Ellen Clark-King, Dean of King’s College, London, was our guest preacher. Following the service Bishop Jonathan then proceeded to give Christmas Day communion to our care wing residents, including Fr Keith celebrating his 99th birthday on Christmas Day.

Christmas Party with Friends and Fun!

Cynthia meets Rudolph

A big thank you to the Friends and a special furry friend with a bright red nose for making our resident’s Christmas party so much fun for this year! As well as Rudolph, the Friends provided some wonderful presents to the residents accompanied by a Christmas Quiz, Christmas Carols with our guest pianist, and the whole occasion was topped off by wonderful refreshments and hospitality provided by the college staff. We truly do wish you a Merry and most blessed Christmas!

Jubilación: Advent Quiet Day 2021

As the chaplain, I decided that for this year for our Advent Quiet Day at the College of St Barnabas we would focus on two pairs of biblical elders. One from the Old Testament in the book of Genesis – Abraham and Sarah. And one from the New Testament in St Luke’s Gospel – Simeon and Anna. The faith and witness of both pairs were explored and at the end of each reading and reflection a single question was posed for the residents to consider in relation to themselves and the college community. We finished our Quiet Day together by sharing our reflections and agreeing to revisit them as we seek to continue to explore and deepen our fellowship together in 2022. Below I have shared for your personal contemplation the reflections used for our Advent Quiet Day. Enjoy!

Derek

Abraham and Sarah – Genesis 12 & 18

Countless sermons extol the virtues of the elderly couple, Abraham and Sarah. The duo who left the comfy confines of their homeland to a land they didn’t even know existed. Scripture, however, shines the spotlight on God as the hero in this story of saving grace. The saga of Abraham and Sarah rises out of the hopelessness of their own barrenness. Abraham is recorded as 75 years old when we begin his journey of faith. With no children, he and Sarah left for Canaan with no real indication of future possibilities. Except they had God’s promise. Unimaginable, unspeakable blessing would be theirs because of God. But they had to trust and obey. This required leaving familiarity for a land and life to be named later. It meant admitting their emptiness and finding their fullness in God alone. This isn’t any different than God’s call to each of us.

Jesus framed discipleship in the starkest terms: “Any of you who does not give up everything, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) Can Jesus be serious? Let go of everything? Is there a money-back guarantee? Questions like these cloud the reality of a God whose presence eclipses even the most awful emptiness. This is Abraham and Sarah’s story: desolation overcome by God’s abundant provision. Abraham and Sarah weren’t profoundly heroic and neither are we. We’re just ordinary people following God’s direction, trusting His provision and surrendering to Him. This means admitting our emptiness and finding our fullness in God alone. But where might we begin? What shall we travel with?here might our journey begin? What shall we travel with? 

Jubilación

Perhaps we can begin with a word. By most standards we would describe Abraham and Sarah’s physical and spiritual journey starting when they were both retired. Retirement is a word that the English language appropriated from the French, around the 16th century. It was originally used in a military sense; i.e. “to withdraw to a place of safety or seclusion” (from the French ‘re’ (back) and ‘tirer’ (to draw)). The word ‘pension’ also came into usage around the 16th century, again in the military sense, meaning “a regular sum paid to maintain allegiance” (from the Latin ‘pendere’ To pay). So, the two words most often used today to describe stopping work (retirement and pensioner – both originally military terms) have negative connotations, implying a tax or burden on society, of people who are of less use, or who don’t contribute.

This is not the case in all cultures and societies. One notable exception is Spanish speaking countries, where they use the word ‘jubilación’ – which is perhaps what we should all be encouraged to strive for in retirement – jubilation! Jubilación is both a Latin and, as you will probably know, a Biblical word – Jubilee – which focuses on:

  1. Restoration 
  2.  Re-creation
  3.  Getting the balance right
  4.  New beginnings

Jubilación is a much richer and more finely nuanced word than retirement. It encapsulates the situation of Abraham and Sarah without denying any of the challenges they were to face. It helps me to glimpse how desolation, may be overcome by God’s abundant provision. It gives me courage to admit my emptiness, in order to find fullness in God.

Question:  What might Jubilación look like here and now at the College of St Barnabas?

Simeon and Anna – Luke 2:22-40

When Advent, the Twelve days of Christmas, and Epiphany have all passed, I turn to the story of Simeon and Anna to hold on to the mystery and joy of Jesus’ birth. This story of Simeon and Anna tells of two faithful servants who recognised salvation in a tiny baby. The story starts with Joseph and Mary following Israelite law and observing the expected post-birth rituals. They circumcise their son when he is eight days old. Then, after Mary’s purification, they arrive at the temple in Jerusalem to make a sacrifice and cleanse Mary. While at the temple, they also pay the redemption price for Jesus, as Jewish law states that all firstborn sons must be redeemed at the temple when they are a month old. This was a reminder of God’s saving work, rescuing the Israelites from the Egyptians and passing over the Israelite homes during the final plague in the Exodus story.

All of this obedience to law and tradition sets the scene for the arrival of Simeon, a righteous and devout man, filled with the Holy Spirit, who was awaiting the consolation of Israel and had been promised he would see the Lord’s Messiah before he died. It’s particularly significant that Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit. Before Pentecost, God’s Holy Spirit was usually reserved for specific individuals to equip them for particular tasks. The Holy Spirit was there to equip Simeon for his task: recognising and proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah. The text makes this clear, stating, “It had been revealed to [Simeon] by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.”

When Jesus is just a tiny baby, Simeon points to the hope that this child will be for both Jews and Gentiles. He reveals that Jesus has come to save the world.  Joseph and Mary marvel at this, and Simeon gives Mary an additional blessing, and then, just as they must think the big moment is over, Anna appears. Anna was a prophetess who remained at the temple day and night. This female prophet confirms all that Simeon has just proclaimed. This tiny baby, Jesus, is the Saviour. She gives thanks to God and proclaims the identity of the child to all those waiting for redemption.Anna was a prophetess who remained at the temple day and night, worshiping with fasting and prayer. This female prophet confirms all that Simeon has just proclaimed. This tiny baby, Jesus, is the Saviour. She gives thanks to God and proclaims the identity of the child to all those waiting for redemption.

In this way, Anna and Simeon speak to us today, just as they spoke to those in the temple years ago. We, like them, are waiting for redemption. The Christmas festivities will come and go, but this hope of Christmas is what we carry with us.  Simeon and Anna may have been a great age, but we can still sense the jubilation in their voices. They do not see themselves as isolated individuals, but as part of something bigger than themselves. Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, they had revealed to them a very deep love, and perhaps a greater understanding of what it means to love deeply. It is world changing. It reminds me of some words from a founding father of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790):

“Those who love deeply never grow old. They may die of old age, but they die young.” Benjamin Frankin 1706-1790

Benjamin Franklin initially owned slaves, but became an abolitionist. After 1758 Franklin gradually changed his mind when his friend Samuel Johnson brought him to one of Dr. Bray’s schools for black children. Dr. Bray Associates was a philanthropic association affiliated to the Church of England. In 1759 he joined the association by donating money. In 1759 he met Anthony Benezet who started a school in Philadelphia and who later co-founded the Abolition Society. In 1763 Franklin wrote that African shortcomings and ignorance were not inherently natural, but come from lack of education, slavery and negative environments. He also wrote that he saw no difference in learning between African and white children. In 1787 Franklin became the President of the Abolition Society. He knew what it meant to love deeply. He died at the age of 84 but you could say, he died young.He knew the cost of what it meant to love deeply more than half a century before emancipation was ever known. He died at the age of 84 but he died young. 

Question:  What might loving deeply look like here and now at the College of St Barnabas?

Who are our Residents Today?

Father Barry
Fr. Barry

Our residents are as varied as the Anglican Church they have served in. Experienced clergy, teachers, missionaries, spouses of those who have served the Church in some way; each one a part of God’s rich tapestry that makes up our community life. This is the story of just one of our current residents – Fr. Barry…

Fr. Barry’s journey took him from his parish in multicultural Brixton to inner city Birmingham and then to Africa where he led a monastic life in Zanzibar, Senegal and Ghana, and ultimately via Bosnia to the College of St Barnabas where, he says, he discovered that God left the best wine until last. In his lifetime Barry has experienced the heartache of being abandoned by his father, a black wartime GI, and the intense highs and lows of being an inner city priest, carrying out extensive work with young black people in the Handsworth area of Birmingham and viewing at first hand police harassment, death, drugs, crime, violence and riots, as well as experiencing the intense heartbreak of a lost love and a 7-year rift with the Church because of his sexuality.

In Africa he sunk wells, had a brush with Mugabe’s secret police and lived as a monk, building a hermitage on the Ashanti plain in Ghana, where he lived and explored his longing after God until ill-health forced his return to the UK, via the mountains of Central Bosnia.

Barry came to the College at a time of great personal need. Milked of his pensions during his time in Africa, and diagnosed with myeloma on his return to the UK, he quite literally had nowhere to go. Fortunately the College was able to help, providing Fr. Barry with a secure, safe environment in which to manage his illness and the space to pray in what he describes as a serious religious community.

In fact, it was precisely for those in ministry like Fr. Barry – returning penniless and in poor health after years of missionary work and ministry overseas, with no-one to turn to – that the College was established all those years ago by Canon William Henry Cooper. Time may have moved on, but as Fr. Barry’s plight so clearly illustrates, the need is still there. Indeed, we are as busy as we have ever been, helping some of the frailest and most vulnerable older and elderly people in the community, not just with the basics of care and accommodation, but with fellowship, a sense of being a valued part of a community and with a strong emphasis on engagement, involvement and social welfare.

The demand and need for the services we provide is unrelenting, and that is precisely why we need help, to enable us to care for those who come to us as the provider of last resort. If you feel you can help our residents like Fr. Barry, then please click the link below.

You can donate by clicking on this JustGiving link. Thank you so much, in advance, for your kind and generous support. 

Friends Autumn Fair 2021

A big thank you to the Friends of the College of St Barnabas for relaunching their Autumn Fair on 27th November at a new venue, the Lingfield and Dormansland Community Centre. Many locally produced crafts and pictures were on sale, as well as the ever popular home made cakes stall.

The event drew in many local people and raised £1300 in funds for future resident’s activities. Supporting the Friends were College members of staff, volunteers and college residents.

It was a fun and festive day for all ages!

Derek

Hallmarks of Holiness – An Advent Reflection

I once heard the Gospel summed up in this phrase: 

‘God loves us so much that he accepts us just the way we are, but he loves us too much to leave us there!” 

The prophet Malachi, emphasises this second point – the need and possibility of change. In Biblical times, thousands of workers had to prepare the way before the king travelled anywhere. They fanned out across the countryside, removing debris from the road, sprucing up the public buildings along the way, and generally making sure everything would be at its very best for the king to see. ‘Preparing the way for the Lord’ is therefore a powerful prophetic theme reflected in Advent.

The image of preparation that Malachi uses is the image of ‘refining’ in Malachi 3:2-4. Malachi probably wrote these words after the Jewish exiles had returned from Babylonian captivity around 500 B.C.E. The Temple in Jerusalem had been repaired and daily worship was going on, but if you read all four chapters of Malachi – the last book of the Old Testament before the Apocrypha – you’ll see that he isn’t happy with the way things are going.

The priests are not living holy lives and they’re not putting their heart into the worship of God, and the people aren’t giving their best to God in sacrifices either – they’re giving the lambs that are so sick they would have died anyway. So Malachi speaks of the Lord coming to, ‘purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness’ (Malachi 3:3).

We might wonder what this has to do with us today. But we need to remember that due to the New Testament, or New Covenant of Jesus Christ, we no longer require a physical temple made of stone; rather, the people of the Way, the followers of Jesus are a living temple – as Paul says in his correspondence with the Christians in Corinth. We are a temple, a community where God lives and is worshipped. So for God to purify this temple means that God is at work among us to set right the things that are wrong. Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that we are each of us ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’. It is the Holy Spirit who is at work ‘refining’ God’s people, both as a community and as individuals. Let’s think about this some more.Let’s think about this further.

A refiner is attempting to purify molten metal from all its dross in order to create an object of beauty and strength – perhaps a silver cup. In Malachi’s time this would be accomplished by putting the unrefined metal into a pot or furnace and heating it up until all the dirt and impurities were burnt out of it. And there’s another lovely little detail here. A number of Bible scholars say that the refiner would know that the process was complete when the molten metal was so clear that the refiner could see their own face reflected in it.

I like that thought.

It reminds me that God loves us so much that he accepts us just as we are, weaknesses and all – but he loves us far too much to leave us there. When we listen to the Prophets, like Malachi, during Advent – we are reminded that God is inviting us into a process of being refined from all impurities until he can see the image of himself clearly reflected in us – and so that those around us can identify God’s Hallmarks too. 

What do God’s Hallmarks look like? 

Like no other. Not a crown, nor a lion, nor an anchor. But as Paul once said to a group of Christians in Galatia: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Hallmarks of Holiness that enrich more than those who bear them. Precious gifts indeed.

Derek

Changing of the Guard

There have been some significant changes in recent months at the College of St Barnabas.

In April Rev David Williams was appointed as the new Chairman of the College Council. In our Autumn 2021 newsletter David said, ” I have always been interested to see how and why institutions have been founded and how their history and tradition can be expressed today in the context of church and society; and to see how the past, the present and our hope for the future can be melded into one vision, for the furtherance of the church’s ministry and mission.”

In July the first Chaplain was installed at the College, Rev Derek Chandler. Derek comes with multiple interests and is keen to understand how other societies view and are engaged with ageing and the elderly. He has already learned and is sharing a new word in his vocabulary from Spanish speaking countries where retirement is called Jubilación.

In October the new Chief Executive Officer, Monty Erskine, began at the College bringing his former experience as Director of Operations at All Souls Langham Place. In his first few months Monty is fully reviewing the life and operation of the College community.

Around the College there is a sense that new things are happening and that a new chapter is beginning as the community moves forward into the new year.

Rev Derek Chandler – December 2021

News from our Fundraising Manager

Midsummer Madness!

Exasperated by the loss of fundraising opportunities caused by almost 15 months of lockdown and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the College’s 125th Anniversary plans, in this the College’s 126th year, Fundraising Manager Mike Herbert is on Midsummer’s Day going to cycle 127 miles from Liverpool to Leeds following the Leeds-Liverpool canal. In one day.
Mike’s 125km Wealdway Walk last year raised £15,000 for the College. Please help him raise as much as possible this time around by sponsoring him at www.justgiving.com/campaign/midsummermadness

And more exciting information …

The College has teamed up with Charitable Travel as part of our fundraising and marketing activities.
Charitable Travel is a social enterprise created to help people book fantastic holidays at great prices, and to help raise money for charities. When you book your holiday, whether that’s a staycation in the UK or something further afield, you can donate 5% of your holiday price to College of St. Barnabas at no extra cost to you! Once the donation has been made, Charitable Travel discount the cost of your holiday by the same 5%, sacrificing the commission that travel agencies make. Charitable Travel sell worldwide ATOL protected holidays from 200 suppliers, and are a member of the Travel Trust Association, so their customers are always financially protected. Find out more at charitable.travel/college-of-st-barnabas or call the team of agents on 020 3092 1288. Please do consider booking with Charitable Travel and share this link with your family and friends. Not only are Charitable Travel competitively priced, but every purchase made through them will help our fundraising effort.

Visitors for Residents

We are pleased to say that since 8th March we have been able to have visits for all our residents with their nominated visitors, and this continues along with government guidelines. We are grateful to all our visitors for adhering to the regulations and keeping our residents safe.

Updated 13th May 2021