Watch the Video! 90 year old Robert Raikes undertakes a 10,000ft skydive to raise money for charity.
This is an extract from the House of Commons Library website dated 10th January 2023, on current Skills and Labour shortages in the UK:
In September-November 2022, there were 1.19 million vacancies in the UK, similar to the number of unemployed people. Human health and social work had the highest number of vacancies. A key reason for labour shortages is that demand for labour has recovered faster than labour supply since the pandemic. Labour supply and employment are below pre-pandemic levels because of a rise in economic inactivity – people who are not in work and not looking for work. While the UK is not unique in experiencing shortages of materials and workers, commentators have noted that new immigration rules post-Brexit may have exacerbated the situation. There are different views on the extent to which Brexit-related factors are contributing to labour supply issues in the UK. The Bank of England reports that slowing population growth is partly responsible for a decreased labour supply, which has been driven by lower net migration from the EU.
It is with this report on labour shortages in mind that the words from Matthew’s Gospel resonate in my ears for this morning…. “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”
These words from Matthew are a discipleship call – to be attentive to God yet deeply engaged with the world. It is a challenge to align ourselves with the ‘Heartbeat of God’ – a phrase used in a report to the World Council of Churches in 2017. I think Jesus’ words have always resonated, not just with me, nor even Christians – but with people who have a heart for people. Doctors, Nurses, Care Workers, Social Workers, Teachers – the list could go on. Through my dealings with these professionals in the public service sector, I am acutely aware of how their profession has become more challenging since I was ordained 30 years ago. I, and perhaps you, have not been surprised by the unprecedented strikes many have taken. Let alone the increasing strain on the voluntary sector. Highlighted this week by the RNLI saving continuing numbers of migrants illegally crossing the Channel. Criticised by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage as behaving like a “taxi service for illegal immigration”. The RNLI has said this week they ‘will not stop saving lives’. I expect those words will resonate on a number of levels for Christians. They will not stop saving lives.
In our times, possibly like many generations before us, we may feel anxious, not knowing where it will all end. To compound the general anxiety revelations and legal action continue to abound with our political leaders, adding to the malaise and sense that there are a growing number of people who feel, ‘lost and without a shepherd’. These are anxious days – Bishop Rosemarie Mallett and I concluded in our conversation when she visited the College of St Barnabas last Sunday for our annual Patronal Festival.
Days of Extremes – extreme political control and violence in Ukraine, Sudan, North Korea, Afghanistan – and more.
Extreme Voices – in Fake News and Social Media Silos, providing platforms for ‘false shepherds’ in America, Russia, Uganda – and more.
Extremes in ‘Climate Change’. And not just a change of climate in the weather, but also in politics, economics, global demographics, and more. Perhaps for the first time in a generation, we see warnings that we cannot take our freedoms nor our responsibilities lightly. But what can we do?
Jesus says we should PRAY. Not lose heart and not dishearten others. But pray and do what we can where we can. When Bishop Rosemarie asked me what I did at the College as the Chaplain, I said, ‘That I try and help everyone to be kind to one another.’ She knew immediately what I meant, and that it was not a facile answer. Her knowing response spoke volumes to me and encouraged me to believe in what I am doing – particularly on days when I feel overwhelmed. Anxious, extreme, overwhelming days do not necessarily mean we are in the wrong place or have said or done the wrong thing. It simply means that we may need to pray, as Jesus said, and align ourselves once more – with the ‘Heartbeat of God’.
It is a heartbeat that gives Life to be shared in all its abundance.
A heartbeat that drums to the Rhythm of Love, Justice, and Peace.
A heartbeat that resounds through all time and eternity in the Cosmos, long after empires have fallen, and ‘tweeting’ tyrants are no more. Be still, and listen to the Heartbeat of God, for that is where Life in all its abundance begins. Amen.
(Sermon by the Chaplain, Rev Derek Chandler, based on Matthew 9:35-10:8)
Debbie Thrower, former journalist, television presenter, and founder of Anna Chaplaincy, visited the College of St Barnabas this week. Debbie and her husband, Charles, engaged with residents and staff for most of the day, which ended with an inspiring talk where Debbie responded to the question, ‘What does pastoring to retired pastors look like in the 21st Century?’
It was a great day which included the sharing of thoughts by Debbie, Brother Anselm, and the Chaplain about Alton as ‘Hampshire Hogs!’. Want to know more about Debbie’s visit to the College? Just follow this link to her blog: https://www.annachaplaincy.org.uk/post/st-barnabas-warm-welcome-for-anna-pioneer
At the age of 74, King Charles III is the oldest monarch to be crowned in this country. But as part of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation of the Post World War years, the King is truly representative of the ageing population of his realm as it is today. A population whose median age has been increasing steadily for many years as the positive result of a Welfare State that was instituted after World War Two.
Not simply due to the long legacy of his mother’s reign, the King faces some major challenges in his mid-seventies. Some of which he predicted himself over 50 years ago when he was mocked by the press and politicians alike for being a ‘tree hugger’, when expressing his personal concerns for the environment and the damaging effects of industrial farming methods. After all, who said the word ‘organic’ very much back then?
But there is also the issue of a Welfare State that has been so successful that we are witnessing, some argue, its steadily increasing collapse. What is the answer?
Charles reigns over a kingdom that voted for Brexit in 2016, little expecting the unforeseeable political and economic consequences of the Covid Pandemic and a war again in Europe that followed in Ukraine. What is the answer?
And in this same week of the King’s Coronation, we have heard the disturbing news of the resignation of Geoffrey Hinton, called the ‘Godfather of Artificial Intelligence’. Hinton left his role at Google to speak out about the “dangers” of the technology he helped to develop. This sounds no less ominous to me than the regret expressed by J. Robert Oppenheimer after creating the world’s first atomic bomb. What is the answer?
Of course, we do not expect the King to have all the answers, but the reigning monarch is expected to give a moral and ethical lead – an expectation very much cultivated by his mother, earning her the respect of citizens and world leaders of all sorts, over seven decades. Now Charles will be judged, fairly and unfairly, for the role he was born to inherit from his mother 74 years ago. I wonder what that means to each of us?
Whatever our political persuasion, we are all subjects to King Charles III. And as Christians we are subjects and subject to Jesus as our King. The very first statement of Christian identity was, “Jesus is Lord.” At the crucifixion, “King of the Jews” was fixed firmly to the Cross, by the Romans, but not as an affirmation. Rather, as an act of mockery and a warning for all the world to see. The idea of the Jews having a king must have seemed ridiculous to them. But even folly can be challenging. Jesus rules a Kingdom with no borders to defend, no soldiers to defend it, and no weapons for the soldiers to use. It is a kingdom that inverts our very understanding of power. But it’s no joke.
Jesus wears a Crown of Thorns with scars that are, as the Celtic Daily Prayer book says, ‘the only human-made things in heaven.’ His wounds have forever transformed all that brings chaos in our lives, into hope. Every time we witness a baptism, receive communion, or celebrate resurrection at a funeral, we remember his scars and the hope they bring. And today – every time we read or hear of Climate Change, or the war in Europe raging in Ukraine, or anything else that leads us to despair – we should remember the criminal on the Cross, who knew he had made a mess of his life and simply pleads in repentance and faith, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
During this Coronation Weekend, we are all reminded – that our labour’s for God’s Kingdom are not over and neither are they lost. Even the smallest pebble makes ripples in the largest pond, as Charles’s mother, Elizabeth, said in more than one public speech. And as Christians, we should never lose sight that there is One who has gone before us. The First and the Last. Who sits on the Throne of the Universe, wearing a Crown of Thorns. He is our hope, our new beginning, and not simply at Coronations. But every day that we choose to be subject to Him and to His Kingdom. Every day that we find the faith, the courage, and the humility to say to the Servant King, “Jesus, remember me…” Amen.
College Chaplain – Rev Derek Chandler
Coronation Day – Saturday 6th May 2023
I grew up with David Bowie.
What I mean is I grew up listening to the music of David Bowie being played by my older siblings. Some of Bowie’s lyrics permeate the English language. For example, ‘Major Tim’ coined by the media, is a reference to the British astronaut, Major Tim Peake. It refers to ‘Major Tom’ from the lyrics of Bowie’s classic song of 1969, ‘Space Oddity’. But perhaps Bowie’s most haunting song was his last, ‘Lazarus’. It is a reflection on death from a performance artist coming to terms with his own mortality.
Lazarus is a reference to the man who died and was brought back to life by Jesus in the Gospel of John 11:1-44. There are often many levels to stories. Today I read this story at the level where we are Lazarus. We are Lazarus when we hear the voice of the one who calls us from the ‘tomb’. This story is the story of our coming to life from death and not just as a future event.
We are to see ourselves in Lazarus, whose name, a shortened form of Eleazar, means “God helps.” He is from a town whose name, Bethany, means “House of Affliction.” So, God helps the one who suffers from affliction. For me, this story says we can be afflicted by death in many ways. We will die physically, but we can also die emotionally, relationally, socially, communally, economically, politically, or spiritually.
I am often reminded of Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”, who sat in her ragged wedding dress – grave clothes if you like – amid the cobwebs, the mouldy wedding cake, and the darkness of her home. Miss Havisham died in a way on her wedding day, that never happened. She was ‘entombed’.
The ghostlike character of Miss Havisham warns us that we all have the potential to create tombs in this life. We can create them individually and collectively. But I am convinced that we are not created to dwell in tombs forever – in this life or the next. For Christians this is the message of Easter.
One of the most significant Christian responses that can be shared in this world with other human beings is our response to death. Acknowledging all the emotions involved and yet providing a message of something more. This is conveyed by Sister Helen Prejean in her true story ‘Dead Man Walking’ written in 1993, which subsequently became a film. The story explores many aspects of what it means to be human in the face of death.
Human beings have addressed this question over the millennia, from mummification to cryogenics, seeking to defy death. Cybernetics now poses the question of whether human consciousness can be transformed into digital data and hence become ‘immortal’? This is called ‘Transhumanism’. The ‘mind, body, spirit’ debate continues but I am not here to address that. The Biblical tradition does not point us toward immortality, which is a Greek philosophical concept. Instead, it speaks of life transformed before God, even after death.
When Jesus eventually arrives at the tomb of Lazarus he asks, “Where have you laid him?” The crowd reply, “Lord, come and see.” We flashback to chapter one of John’s gospel when the would-be disciples are seeking Jesus, asking, “Lord, where are you staying?” And he responds, “Come and see.” Life with God it seems is signified with invitations into the ‘new’.
At the entrance of the tomb Jesus cries, “Lazarus, come out!” The Greek verb ‘kraugazein’ occurs six times in John’s gospel. It is used four times for the shouts of the crowd to crucify Jesus. But Jesus’ shout brings life to Lazarus – and to us. A voice calls at the edge of our tombs. We are invited to respond – freed from our grave clothes, as Jesus says, “Unbind them and let them go.”
There are many forms of death. I know what it is like to be in the ‘tomb’, and maybe so do you. But a voice spoke to me and in time… I was unbound. For we are created not for dwelling in tombs, but for life in this world and beyond. Life shared with others and with God. Life Unbound – Come and See…..
Sermon for Easter Day 2023 by Rev Derek Chandler
Congratulations to Liz as she celebrated her 100th birthday with her family along with residents and staff at the College of St Barnabas.
Liz and the family thanked everyone for helping to make the day so special. Included within the celebrations was a morning eucharist presided over by her son, Jonathan – the former Bishop of Croydon. A special family lunch, which then continued into the afternoon with a cake cutting ceremony and presentation of flowers by the CEO on behalf of the College. Finally, Liz was also presented with a special birthday card from King Charles III.
Well Done Liz!
Thank you to Michael, pictured with Monty, as the College receives from ‘Good News for Everyone’ (a.k.a:’Gideons’), a generous gift of 30 hardback copies of the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, in Large Print, for our residents to use in our community worship.
Canon William Henry Cooper founded the College of St Barnabas over 126 years ago. Until now we have not had a satisfactory image of him. But thanks to the tireless efforts of resident Rev Dr David Williams that has all changed.
Upon returning from a talk he was delivering at St Matthew’s Church in Croydon about Canon Cooper, David was greeted by an email with a photograph dating from approximately 1890 of the College founder courtesy of the Royal Geographic Society. Thank you David – we owe you a great debt of gratitude for bringing our founder home!
I am sure you have heard of the saying, “Singing is good for the soul.” Health experts agree and here are the most common reasons why:
It’s a mood-enhancer
Singing releases endorphins into your system and makes you feel energised and uplifted. Like laughing, singing brings oxygen into the body and helps us to find gratitude which, in turn, boosts our mood and makes us happy!
It improves your breathing
Singing gives the lungs a workout, it tones abdominal muscles and the diaphragm, and stimulates circulation. So, singing is a workout!
It’s a stress-reliever
Singing allows the flow of blood and oxygen which lessens anxiety. Following a rhythm, whether that’s singing or even just humming, builds positive wiring in our brains and helps us to relax.
Singing keeps you young!
Singing exercises, the vocal cords and keeps them youthful, even in later years. The less aged your voice sounds, the more you will feel, and seem, younger.
Singing builds confidence
Singing alone or in groups, builds confidence, and encourages you to step out of your comfort zone to embrace ‘the new’.
It is no wonder then, that much of the Good News of the Bible is expressed in song. Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55, called the Magnificat) promises God upturning all that is unjust or wrong – putting the mighty in their place and establishing the lowly. Because of this, it has been banned in Christian worship in such countries as Argentina, Guatemala, and in the days of the British Empire when the British governed India. It was feared that the local inhabitants would take its message seriously. More recently, Bono, the lead singer of the world-famous rock band, ‘U2’, once said: “Music can change the world because it can change people.”
Questions for further Reflection:
If your life were a song, what song would it be, and why?
Has the song changed with the passing of time?
Is it changing now?
‘A Quiet Space’ is a short reflection time consisting of simple music with a reflection. For anyone of any faith, no faith, or somewhere in between. In a 10,080 minute week, why not use 20 minutes doing nothing together? For further enquiries please speak to the Chaplain – Rev Derek Chandler.
We Have the Power! (‘A Quiet Space’ Reflection)
Many of us have had to reconsider our energy usage in recent months. But it is estimated that over 3 billion people globally are living in places where their electricity usage is less than that of a single domestic refrigerator in one year.
Roughly 4 out of every 10 people on Earth live in an ‘unplugged’ world. The enormous gap in electricity usage matters because it is directly related to some of the world’s most vexing problems, including: Women’s Rights – Inequality – Climate Change.
Educate the mother and you educate the child. But mothers can’t get much education if they are constantly hauling water, fetching firewood, and washing clothes by hand. Every hour spent doing this is one missed in education.
Numerous studies have shown the positive effect electricity has on women and girls. A 2002 study in Bangladesh found that the literacy rate for females in villages with electricity was 31% higher than it was in villages that lacked electricity. It concluded electricity has a “…significant influence on education.” (Taken from an article by Robert Bryce of Forbes in 2020)
What does the phrase “We have the Power!”, mean in the light of the above? What can we change today?
“Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying: but let us live well and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times!” (St Augustine of Hippo: circa 354-430 CE)
Chaplain – Rev Derek Chandler 4.1.23
‘A Quiet Space’ is a short time to stop and just be together .Consisting of simple music with a reflection. For anyone of any faith, no faith, or somewhere in between. In a 10,080 minute week, why not join a 20 minute community? Doing nothing together, however briefly, may just be what is needed. For any further enquiries please speak to the Chaplain.