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Priestly Ponderings April 2015

The important message of Easter

 I have been asked so often “Why does the date of Easter change each year? Why can’t we set the date?” The reason the date of Easter changes is as follows:

  Easter Day is the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after the vernal equinox.

 As you might expect it’s not quite that simple – firstly the ‘full moon’ is not the observed astronomical full moon, but rather a ‘paschal’ or ‘ecclesiastical’ full moon that is calculated by formula to avoid the variations in the astronomical calendar, although the two usually correspond to within a day.  The vernal equinox is also fixed as the 21 March. This formula was first established by the First Council of Nicaea convened in 325 AD by Constantine.  The resulting tables are now used in all Western Christian churches.  (The eastern Orthodox churches use a different means of calculating Easter which can result in it falling on a different day.)

 I am sure you will agree that the formulae has all the hallmarks of something established by a committee!  As far as I have been able to determine there is no deep theological reason for it and neither would there be any theological objection to fixing Easter more closely – to this end the second Sunday in April has been suggested which would fix Easter between the 8th and 14th April – although agreement on this would require the establishment of a new committee…

 None of this is really important, it’s what we are celebrating at Easter as Christians which truly counts beyond a date in the diary! Every Sunday we celebrate the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, but we  focus on that event each year at a feast day called Easter ( “Easter” is a word derived from the Easter, the Teutonic goddess of spring).

 We do not need to complicate these facts anymore than I have done so already. Easter has a very simple message which is that Jesus Christ died for us all on the Cross by seeking forgiveness for our sins. Through this one act we have been forgiven all our sins. Now that is worth taking seriously and far more important than a date in the diary!

 May the Risen Christ be with you all this Easter.

 Rev  Jim Brown

Priestly Ponderings March 2015


 A Christian View on Tax Avoidance

 Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint is an ex- HSBC head who has recently stepped down from a leading financial services body. This is amid claims that he was in charge of the HSBC when it enabled tax avoidance.  During my articles in the Rostrum I am very unlikely to become involved in politics, particularly party politics. But this is a different issue and is a matter of Ethics which should engage us all. When this issue emerged a few weeks ago it was natural that fingers should point at Lord Green, who also happens to be an Anglican Priest and has been since 1988!  He has written books on the ethics of business, he was appointed as a trade minister in the government and has been appointed by the Church of England to chair a report on leadership training for senior clergy which has proved unpopular with some church members. This clearly causes the church a degree of embarrassment but it’s opposition to tax evasion, or aggressive tax management strategies, remains firm.  And so it should!

 As a priest in the Church of England I firmly believe that our faith, and any normal respect for humanity, requires us to work with and for the poorest in our society, the less able and those who have needs. It grieves me to think that thousands of British bank customers have deposited billions of pounds in Swiss bank accounts in order to avoid tax. This is an avoidance of our responsibility towards the “Common Good”.

 The Christian perspective is quite simple, everything we have is fundamentally God given. Every Sunday, upon receipt of our offertory collection in church, I use the following prayer:  “All things come from thee and of thine own do we give thee”.  Or to put it another way, God created everything and so everything is fundamentally God’s. So, however much of the worlds resources we appropriate for ourselves, or however much we label as “ours”, God’s ownership is primary.  At best our ownership is simply temporary stewardship.  Therefore, all that we have in our private Swiss bank accounts needs to be justified because all that we do have we actually have on loan. The big question is what we do with this money.  Or, let’s put it another way, for whom is this money good news?

  The Revd Jim Brown

Lent Lunches 4, 11, 18 March. 12.30 to 2pm

Priestly Ponderings February 2015


 I don’t spend much time watching TV but one programme I really enjoy is 24hrs A&E. The programme is a documentary following a 24 hour period in a London hospital A&E department. I really enjoy watching the varying responses by the patients and family and friends. It is quite fascinating insight in to people’s lives. They often express themselves with no inhibitions and, when faced with tragedy or trauma, folk tend to demonstrate their love for one another quite freely. The programme actually begins with words from a consultant and he explains that if people do face death then how much nicer it is for people to use the words “I Love You” as their final words. The programme tends to illustrate the very best of human behaviour and restores my faith in people. It can be touching and so very emotional.

 Conversely, events recorded on our TV screens covering the most bizarre and tragic terrorist attack in Paris can have the opposite effect. The perpetrators of those utterly inexplicable crimes were evil!   I can’t begin to understand how religion can ever be a part of their actions and it is a huge insult to the millions of peace loving Moslems throughout the world to suggest that it is. It is for this reason that France declared war on the terrorists and not Islam. Knowing that these terrorist attacks are not about religion, we have to reach a point where we stop blaming Islam. Ironically, terrorism is actually an act against the very religion they claim to believe in. It’s an acknowledgement, on the part of the terrorist, that the religion and its teachings aren’t enough to convince people to follow it.

 I look forward to the day when an act of terrorism by self-proclaimed Muslims will be universally dismissed as nothing more than a criminal attack of a thuggish political organisation. For me, religion—no matter which one—is ultimately about people wanting to live humble, moral lives that create a harmonious community and promote tolerance, friendship and, most importantly, love with all people. If God is involved it can be nothing less!

 Let’s return to my favourite TV programme. Unlike some of the patients in 24hrs A&E, the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris had no opportunity to say their final words “I Love You” to their loved ones. Their lives were extinguished at the pull of a trigger without their family surrounding them with their love. All religions, including Islam, promote the aim to love one another. If we love one another then we will remain united when we face an attack by any evil. Love will bind us together.Revd Jim Brown

Priestly Ponderings December 2014


You hardly need me to remind you that it will be Christmas in a few weeks time, like it or not!  Whilst I enjoy the celebratory side to Christmas, as much as most folk do, I would always encourage you all to give some thought to the “Reason behind the Season”. In other words, think about Jesus and who this person was, born as the Christ Child.

 Let’s focus on the birth story that we celebrate in a few weeks time. Why Bethlehem?  Why Palestine?  Why not Rome, Paris or London?  These cities were more developed and communications were established.  But, no, God chose a very small insignificant village in a small corner of a barren part of the Middle East to engage with humanity through the birth of Christ. He was probably  born in some kind of cave amongst livestock. Why not chose a more significant, salubrious, developed and civilised place to achieve his objectives? Perhaps a palace amongst the rich would have been more fitting for the King of Kings!  We may never know for sure but simply surmise.  Maybe it was something to do with humble beginnings, identifying with the poor or being at the centre of the religious world of the day.

 Whatever God’s reasons may have been one thing is for sure, it worked! The birth of Christ changed the world. I invite you to reflect on these words of Dr James Allan Francis in a sermon he once wrote:

 19 centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.

All the armies that ever marched,

All the navies that ever sailed,

All the parliaments that ever sat,

All the Kings that ever reigned,

Put together, have not affected the life of man on earth

As much as that One Solitary Life.

 Whether you are a Christian or not it is difficult to deny that Christ has shaped the world we live in like no other individual. This person’s solitary life has achieved so much.  So, amidst all the excitement, celebration and the eating and drinking of the Christmas season, give a little thought to the humble, poor and unusual beginnings of the “One Solitary Life” who has changed the world we live in today.

 None of this stops us enjoying ourselves. On the contrary, have a happy and holy Christmas this year!

God Bless                    Rev Jim



Priestly Ponderings November 2014


I am aware that it was only in August that I wrote to you all referring to the fact that we are now commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. I thought I ought to write about something different this month. But then I thought, how can I ignore Remembrance this year of all years?

We have already marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in our churches and communities. This will be central to our thoughts, as always, on Remembrance Sunday. You are all most welcome to join us for this annual service in church. This is an opportunity to remember our relatives and those whose names appear on our village War Memorial. They are all deserving of our continued thoughts and prayers.

There are so many other events taking place, particularly during this month of November, which are dedicated to the commemorations you can hardly ignore the importance and enormity of the First World War. One such event which has grabbed the public’s attention and imagination is the Sea of Poppies at The Tower of London. Don’t miss the major art installation “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” at the Tower of London, marking one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war. The poppies encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. I personally found it quite overwhelming when I visited the spectacle. The scale of the installation is to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration.

However, the success of this visual commemoration is already leading to a further problem. What will happen in 2018? How can they mark the conclusion of The Great War following the success of the poppies? It led me to reflect on the article I wrote in August when I stated ” It also cannot be about just remembering the past, but also about learning the lessons it has for the future.  As the historian Hew Strachan says ‘If we do not emerge at the end of the process in 2018 with fresh perspectives, we shall have failed.’”.

In November, on Armistice Day, the poppies will be removed but we still witness war in various corners of the world. The challenge I referred to remains and I shall continue to pray for a “Fresh Perspective”  for 2018!   I look forward to the sequel to “Blood swept Lands and Seas of Red”.

Revd Jim Brown

(Originally published in November issue of Rostrum Village Magazine)

August Beneficial News

Please click HERE for the August Beneficial news.

Cameron’s Slum Weekend



I belong to a youth group in Paddock Wood called New Gen. Last weekend we participated in an event called ‘Slum Survivor’.


Slum Survivor is an experience where we spend a few days the way billions of people spend their life times. As part of this we had to build our slum to sleep in out of wooden pallets and tarpaulin, using cardboard and newspaper for insulation.


Food wise we had two meals of rice and lentils a day which whilst they were filling, had no taste to them what so ever, making meals very bland and unexciting.


We were not allowed any luxuries such as extra clothes and any electronic gadgets however we were allowed as much underwear as we wanted!


As part of the event the leaders set us challenges and dilemmas for which we as a group had to over come, for example one of the dilemmas was that one of our ‘family’ had to be sold into the slave trade and we had to decide who would go.





We faced many difficulties throughout the weekend such as the leaky tarpaulin roof and the heavy rain on Friday night but it was a valuable insight to how many people live their life and how privileged we are with what we’ve got.
If you have any questions please feel free to talk to me.




The charity behind the event is Soul Action, please click here for more information. Lastly a huge thank you to those who have sponsored me and if anyone else would still like to sponsor me I have room on my form – or alternatively you can give direct on their website. I will let you know my total amount collected very soon.

Thank you

Cameron Andrew

Wateringbury War Memorials

Wateringbury WW1 Memorial Booklets
WWM church icon
To mark the centenary of the Great War (1914-18), two memorial booklets have been produced giving details of  the men commemorated on either the Church War Memorial which hangs in the north-east corner of the church, of the old School War Memorial which now hangs in the church vestry.
WWM school icon
These booklets can be purchased from the church or can be ordered and sent by post. All profits from the sale of these booklets go towards Wateringbury church funds.
For more detailed information, please go to:

David’s three 2014 Cycling Challenges


Top of the Bwlch in Wales on the 2013 Dragon Ride


It is widely known amongst my friends that I lost the plot a few years ago and challenged myself to some cycling sportive events.  I suspect this is a little like forgetting what it is like to go through the pain of child birth because we’ve signed up for three this year, the same two as last year plus one additional 75 mile route round Kent used more as a training ride for the big2.


Like last year, the charity I’m supporting is Prostate Cancer UK, made all the more important to me when we discovered Jim was suffering.  My suffering is insignificant by comparison but on Sunday 18 May with the 105 mile (and very hilly) Castle ride and will be followed by an overly mountainous ride in Wales called the Dragon Ride, which takes in the stunning Black mountains and Brecon Beacons.  Both are guaranteed to hurt.


To give you a flavour of the difficulty, the distance and climb for the combined two rides is the equivalent of six times to the summit of Snowdon using the Pyg Track and then cycling an additional 160 miles before finishing!


The topographical hills below show the two rides and as you can see, they are not very flat!





Your support will, I promise, make me even more determined to get to the top of every hill without walking and help people like Jim in the future to recover back to full fitness.


Your support is much appreciated for a very worthwhile charity and please say a prayer for my legs!  Both will be very well received.


Thank you



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