Barham Downs Churches

  • The Rectory
  • The Street, Barham
  • Canterbury
  • Kent
  • CT4 6PA

01227 668190
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Biblical thought, Spiritual reflection & Pastoral care 

Maundy Thursday 09/04/20

The Maundy Thursday Podcast is available

check it out.

The Nailbourne reminds us of the preciousness of water and
this evening the feet of those attending Church services 
would have been washed...

Maundy Thursday Washing

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for you are with me:
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


5.15pm Hot of the podcast, do follow the link if you would like to hear Reflective Evening Prayer for Holy Wednesday

check it out.

Prepping the Easter Garden at the Rectory on Holy Wednesday - and with wonderful weather!

Holy Weds Cross Making 2020

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Holy God,
holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.

We glory in your cross, O Lord
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection:
for by virtue of the cross
joy has come to the whole world.

from the Liturgy for Good Friday


Holy Tuesday

Palm Crosses on St Giles Kingston west door - courtesy of George Ward

This evening's Holy Tuesday Podcast service is based on the idea of the Resurrection.
Glory Be to Jesus,
Song of Solomon 8:6-7
Matthew 22:23-33
The Lord is my Light
Nun Ruhen alle Waelde

Do click and follow....



Holy Monday Eve 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I have added a Holy Monday Evening Prayer Podcast 
if you click the li

Theme: The Temple
All Glory Laud & Honour
My Song is Love Unknown
Wait for the Lord
Jeremiah 7:1-11
Matthew 21:12-17

Holy Monday!
In the clearing out of the Temple what are we called to clear out, 
re-order and change?

Holy Monday 2020 larger


Cartoon courtesy Dave Walker, Church Times

Palm Sunday 2020 Cartoon

Palm Sunday 2020

Matthew 21:1-11 Palm Sunday Homily 

Who do we cheer? 

Jerusalem at Passover is a bustling city of expectation and celebration.
Jesus times his entry at the right moment in fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy (9:9) and the expectant crowd lining the streets are already buzzing about an expectant Messiah because that seems to be the growing expectation. Why? Passover is a celebration of deliverance from oppression and slavery from the time of Moses.  As Jesus approaches the city the people are again under the yoke of powerful overlords - the Romans. 

I think ‘word’ would have quickly gone round about this holy wanderer, this prophet of Nazareth, and some may have known that he was born in Bethlehem hence why they cheer-on the Son of David!

This is the beginning of the end of Jesus’ ministry to bring his Father’s Kingdom right into the heart of the holy city, to replace the Great Temple with his body and his blood - an offering for all eternity.


Now instead, imagine the city streets being empty of commerce and traffic, imagine a contagion forcing people to look from their windows, balconies and roof-tops at the now lonely procession to the Temple.

Instead of immediate jubilation there is a hushed sense of awe as people crane their necks to get a good view and see perhaps just one of the disciples at a social distance leading the colt and a donkey on which Jesus rides. Now imagine the residents become much bolder and start to wave; the waves of hands and garments give way to a loud cheer and clapping as this Son of Man comes to his people to save them from their sins - our sins! 

Fortunately no imagination is required for ourselves for the last consecutive Thursday evenings as we cheered and clapped for our heroic health professionals, care workers and all who keep this country going whether from: law to logistics or, from farmers to food shelves including our own village shop and for the dedicated team that keep it going. As a nation we have always valued our health service but now in these days so much more for those who help to contain, heal, restore and cure us. 

This Easter coming shall we also give thanks to Him who comes to restore us in heart, body mind and spirit? 



H&W Anointing Prayer


Acts 14:17

'yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.’

We, in turn are called to not just be witnesses of the creation's goodness but to be outward stewards so that others may have a share of that which sustains us.
A reminder that we have a Pastoral Relief Fund to assist those in need during this current crisis. Click link.


On this Rock I will build my Church


Thought for the week

We may seem bereft of our worshiping places – our church buildings that have stood the test of time - but in the here and now what temple are we building in our hearts and minds and bringing them into our homes?


Zechariah 6:15

Those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord; and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.


Not in a temple made with hands
God the Almighty is dwelling;
high in the heav'ns His temple stands,
all earthly temples excelling.
Yet He who dwells in heaven above
chooses to live with us in love,
making our body His temple.


Ephesians 2:21-22

In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.

We are God's house of living stones,
built for His own habitation;
He fills our hearts, His humble thrones,
granting us life and salvation.
Yet to the place, an earthly frame,
we come with thanks to praise His name;
God grants His people true blessing.

N. F. S. Grundtvig  (1783-1872)


Passiontide Message

Transforming kingdom

One of the more powerful moments of Jesus' ministry where he stands between the accused and the accusers. This is where he clearly demonstrates that loving God for the sake of God and not solely the laws of Moses is far more purposeful and needed. Remember, Jesus did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them - to transform everything we cling to. The woman is also transformed knowing that she must change. The coming weeks will transform us all, and pray that we in our communities transform for the better so that we see the signs of the kingdom of heaven within around us.  RevT



Passion Sunday 2020

Homily for Passion Sunday 29/03/20

Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. Ezekiel 37:5

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’   John 11:23

Today marks a moment of change in our Lenten journey as the Bible readings* focus on the victory to come - ‘life over death’ and so poignant with our current health crisis. Today is the start of Passiontide and where some churches choose to cover their crosses and religious imagery until the Easter Vigil.

 In an unforeseen way we have already done this in the closing of our churches for what will be until Easter at the very earliest. We enter a solemn period knowing that Jesus is gradually being drawn to his crucifixion and our way of life has also become more saddened with the social restrictions imposed upon us. Nevertheless, we know how the narrative plays out with Christ triumphant bursting forth from the tomb; death can no longer restrain him nor us - ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even thou they die, will live’ (John 11:25). 

Whether in the image of The Valley full of dry bones or in the stench of a burial tomb, our souls, our divine patterns, are not just restored but utterly transformed. In the heroic work of our frontline medical practitioners their faith in their training help to restore our bodies and minds. They are resuscitating near-to-death patients as if they are near-death-Lazarus’ and yet like Lazarus even those who survive like the rest of us must still one day enter ‘through the valley of the shadow of death, (Psalm 23:4). 

I think up to this present moment the reality of death has often been hidden, sanitised, and surely not acceptable in a society of fulfilled consumer desires. Surely death can be air-brushed out like other undesirables that we face in life? This may suggest that we would rather race to Easter Sunday with its imagery of vibrant and verdant Spring growth, lambs and rabbits, oh... not forgetting the inconceivable moment of the Resurrection of course! Doing Good Friday this year means having to reflect upon our existential selves more so than previous years and in isolation rather than looking for a Bank holiday bargain in the shops. 

In light of what we are experiencing and in our sojourn to the foot of the cross how will we recognise what might seem to be dead and dry in our own spiritual practices and beliefs?

When the stone of doubt and sorrow is rolled away at Eastertide may we be given grace  to breathe healing into the relationships of our families and communities and to come through the pandemic - restored and risen.


* readings can be found in the Benefice Pew Sheet tab under Welcome

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Psalm 35 - The Lord hears

17  The righteous cry and the Lord hears them •

   and delivers them out of all their troubles.

18  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted •

   and will save those who are crushed in spirit.

19  Many are the troubles of the righteous; •

   from them all will the Lord deliver them.

Last night’s national applause for our wonderful NHS was justly deserved and should not remain a one-off act of public recognition.  At the sharp end of care in receiving COVID-19 patients our medics ‘tread where angels fear to tread.’ They are treating the ‘crushed’ and ‘broken hearted’. The psalmist is all to aware of despair and death and how it afflicts all people.

Delivering the physical self out of trouble will also restore our mental states and in time reduce anxiety and stress. God remains constant throughout as our deliverer; as he was for the Hebrews out of Egypt; as he promises in Psalm 23 to be our rod and staff through the darkest vale; and as he fulfills prophetic expectation in Christ where death has lost its sting.  Prayer, no matter its form, can offer hope for our despondent souls. Jesus assures is that even in secret (or the in the quietness  of our isolation) God, our Father and Mother, hears us.

Loving God,

before we even pray you are constantly in our presence,

Like the Father of the prodigal son always ready 

to embrace us on our journey.  

As we pray for our NHS workers and their families, hear also of our troubles and bring us comfort and grace with your love. 

We give thanks for those who are healed, 

and we ask your blessing upon those 

who enter your kingdom where there is no more pain, dying or death, as we pray for comfort for their families. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ who made all things new.



Check out:

A meaningful reflection by Rev'd Dr Sam Wells (St Martins-in-the-Fields) in today's Daily Service on BBC Radio 4LW.
The prophet Jeremiah suffered immensely when Jerusalem was over run by foreign forces. We may be fearing the force of a global coronavirus but we pray that our "balm in Gilead' will be found in our NHS medics and healers, in our families and neighbours for all recovering from all illnesses.  

The Prophet Mourns for the People - Jeremiah 8

18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
   my heart is sick.
19 Hark, the cry of my poor people
   from far and wide in the land:
‘Is the Lord not in Zion?
   Is her King not in her?’
(‘Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,
   with their foreign idols?’)
20 ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
   and we are not saved.’
21 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
   I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.

22 Is there no balm in Gilead?
   Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
   not been restored?

 Healing God,
may your energy and power flow
through those who can heal,
giving skills to hands,
compassion to hearts,
clarity and judgement in mind.
Give us all strength to minister
to those who suffer and are in pain,
in the name of Jesus who suffered and rose again.


Mary surprised by a strange announcement (Annunciation)
Short reading from the Gospel of Luke 1: 26b-27, 30-32

the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High...

How are we to be startled and challenged by God today? 
As life in our communities suddenly changes and the pace of life starts to slow - how can we hear God asking us to be more than we are and to cross the threshold into the uncomfortable zone?

Blessed are you sovereign God,
creator of heaven and earth,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
as your living Word, eternal in heaven,
assumed the frailty of our mortal flesh,
may the light of your love be born in us
to fill our hearts with joy as we sing:
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.


Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of it not to share your bread with the hungry.....  Isaiah 58:6,7

The Night Reading is very much in line with the Church's commemoration of Archbishop Oscar Romero who realised in his ministry that to defend the weak, the disempowered, to campaign against the injustices and the gross violation of human rights in El Salvador was far more in keeping with Christ's message than adhering to the blind politics of the Church. To challenge the fascist government of his time was no different to Jesus challenging the religious institution of his time. Romero was martyred on this day in 1980. 

Merciful Lord,
you know our struggle to serve you:
when sin spoils our lives
and overshadows our hearts,
come to our aid
and turn us back to you again:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Temporary Church Closures

Following on from the PM's broadcast on the evening of the 23rd March we are required to close our churches for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a sad decision as we normally and willingly keep our churches open to all whether of faith or no faith, but these are extraordinary times.

I pray that this will be for the shortest time possible but we pray that the Holy Spirit guides our medical and political leaders in their discernment and decision-making for the benefit of all our communities.

For the time being our buildings may be inaccessible but Christ never is as we are his hands and feet, his mouthpiece and remains within us in our prayers.


Night Prayer (Compline)

Night Prayer


Visit this place, O Lord, we pray,
 and drive far from it the snares
of the enemy:
may your holy angels dwell with
us and guard us in peace,
and may your blessing be always upon us:
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

After midday prayer on Tues 24th March 'Prayers' will still be offered at St John's everyday at 12pm and Compline at 7pm on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I'm hoping that I will be able to pray at the other churches in our benefice but awaiting latest government advice on restricted movements.

Almighty God,
may we, by the prayer and discipline of Lent,
enter into the mystery of Christ's sufferings;
that by following in the Way,
we may come to share in the glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you have a mobile phone operating on Android or Apple this is a good App to download which covers 'Prayer During The Day' and 'Night Prayer'  (Compline)

Time To Pray App


Knitted 'Rose' Hat for Mothering Sunday

My thanks to Jean Cave in continuing her knitting of liturgical colour-linked hats which will be worn today (Mothering Sunday) for Office Prayers at St John's
12pm & 7pm


Mothering Sunday Homily - John 19.25b-27

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.   When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’  Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

What a stark short reading for Mothering Sunday! 

A mother stands hapless at the foot of the cross as her beloved son, whose life is gradually ebbing away, thinks only for those he loves, and in particular, his mother, Mary.   This for the Great Shepherd is in keeping with his divine ministry in looking out for his flock wherever they are so that they know his voice and that not one of his sheep should go astray. He is also the one who continues to serve to the end and to fulfil the mission that God entrusted him with, without riches or position, “but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to server, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-35).

The last moments on this wooden and blood-soaked execution-device reserved for the lowest of all criminals in the Roman era is the complete anathema of a device that now represents love and hope, forgiveness and life-eternal. Yet It is only in the dawn of the next day and ‘in the waiting’ that the ‘cross’ but more so the ‘empty cross’, the ‘victorious cross,’ becomes that universal icon of hope over adversity, love triumphing over evil, and life conquering death. 

In these uncertain days when Mothering Sunday meals and outings are cancelled we are reminded daily of the deadliness the global virus in terms of statistics and heart wrenching testimonies. Those  who ‘mother’ us professionally in front line services or in our homes so need our support and our prayers and in particular the vulnerable around us. No one can truly foresee the consequences of the pandemic but may we be given the strength of Christ to be unconditional and accommodating in our love for our family members also.

God of love,

passionate and strong,

tender and careful:

watch over us and hold us

all the days of our life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen


Commemorating author of the BCP

Father of all mercies,

who through the work of your servant Thomas Cranmer

renewed the worship of your Church

and through his death revealed your strength in human weakness: by your grace strengthen us to worship you...

the Collect for today as we commemorate the @CommonPrayerBCP

The language of the Book of Common Prayer May seem antiquated and out of place to many but I have often been amazed how in faith the power and eloquence of the words have stirrred the heart and minds of so many, both young and old. 


Love your neighbour - Timely #gospel today. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-34) @churchofengland #barhamdownschurches_

If your neighbour was not just your next door neighbours but anyone who was in your sphere of influence then surely no neighbour would ever be in need or lonely on our planet. RevT

the St Joseph being close to Mothering Sunday reminds me that Joseph ‘mothered’ Jesus in a different way from the moment of his birth to when learning a carpenter’s trade. With COVID-19 we are being challenged to 'Mother' for each other and unconditionally. Note that from the beginning of the angel's message Joseph learns top adapt and to accept the Word of God - read Matthew.1:18-25

 ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

During Passion Week we see how Jesus' face is set in the direction of Jerusalem as the culmination of his mission. Joseph before set his face to Bethlehem to witness the Word made Flesh.

Collect (Prayer of the Day)

God our Father, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph the carpenter to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary: give us grace to follow him in faithful obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.