Sunday 18th August 2019

Luke 12:49-56

Jesus the Cause of Division

49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided:

father against son
    and son against father,
mother against daughter
    and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
    and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Interpreting the Time

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Dear Friends August 2019

Dear Friends
Well what a month July has been for us as a church!  The month kicked off with a burglary when thieves broke into the church office and stole the safe containing our Christian Aid collection, communion silverware, marriage registers and some other bits and pieces of cash and keys.  How they managed to shift a safe made from 3inch thick steel and weighing almost three quarters of a ton I will never know – though I did consider phoning around the hospitals to see if anyone had come in with a hernia or bad back – there were no drag marks or wheel marks in the new carpet where they exited.  Damage and goods came to almost £8000.  Thankfully we have insurance and at the end of the day it was just stuff and no-one was hurt – praise God! The congregation, community and other churches have been absolutely brilliant in their support for us.
Following fast on the heels of the break-in we had our annual Summer Fair and what a wonderful day it was and so well supported by so many of you – thank you!  We try each year to introduce something new and this year we had a World Foods stall, a Prosecco and Beer Tent and some really yummy cream teas.  This was combined with lots of kids’ activities and a capital Grand Draw.  We owe a huge thank you to our organising committee and so many from the wider community who contributed prizes for the Grand Draw.
There is a real sense of movement taking place at St Gabriel’s.  As we continue to grow into our community with all the new facilities (check our new community garden) we are seeing more and more families joining the regular congregation as well as some returners.  It’s an exciting time and God is blessing His people in so many ways.  Jesus said “I have come that they may have life and life in all its abundance!” Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?
Someone once said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our lives and we try to fill it with so much stuff that never really and truly fully fills that space.  I believe that! Please do come along and join us on any Sunday morning at 10.30am for a taster and see if it that ‘thing’ you’ve been looking for!
ALPHA will be running again starting in September – a unique opportunity to meet informally, listen to some stuff and then join a discussion to seek answers to those questions you’ve always wanted to ask about the Christian faith in a safe and non -judgemental environment.  No qualifications or previous experience required!
May you and your family enjoy a blessed and peaceful summer break.
Yours in Christ



Easter Services at St. Gabriel’s 2019

Easter Services at St. Gabriel’s


Sunday 14th —Palm Sunday


Thursday 18th—Maundy Thursday Supper and Service—7pm


Friday 19th—Good Friday Service—10am


Sunday 21st—Sunrise Service and Breakfast—7.30am


Sunday 21st—Easter Day Service—10.30am
Please come along and join us in celebrating the greatest single event in the history of humankind!
He died for you!
He rose again for you!


Dear Friends Oct 2018

Dear Friends, Well, my heartiest congratulations to the Popley Matters team and especially to Jane and Paul for reaching the fantastic number of 200 editions. It’s an amazing achievement achieved through dedication and belief in their task, hard work and the persistence to continue to deliver such a great service to our whole community. Long may it continue. In fact, I just worked out the 400th edition will be due out around 33 years from now, that’s 2051 – wow! It’s been a year of important anniversaries for our country as well! This year the Royal Air Force celebrated its centenary and it is also the centenary anniversary of the end of the 1st World War. Both have been commemorated at events near and far. Marilyn and I travelled to London in July for the RAF Celebrations and flypast, had the privilege of serving at the RAF Odiham Families Day and last weekend we hosted the annual Battle of Britain Service at St Gabriel’s attended by members of the Royal Air Forces Association and 443 Squadron ATC. Also in attendance were the Mayor and Mayoress and a representative from RAF Odiham. It’s important that we recognise the bravery and sacrifice of our heroes past and present in these events and the few are getting fewer. I read this year that there are only eight remaining pilots alive that fought in the Battle of Britain. We should continue to remember them as they gave of their all in the cause of justice and freedom. So, we’re over summer, marked for me by Last Night at the Proms, the Battle of Britain and it will soon be Remembrance Sunday – sure to be a special event this year. Then it will be Christmas!! Christmas! Another opportunity to celebrate and remember the one who came to this earth to be our Saviour. Who died in the cause of freedom – our freedom! Freedom from sin, freedom from death. It was Jesus who said that “I have come that they may have life and life to the full!” As we enter that period of frenzied buying, partying, resting and holidaying my prayer for our community is that we will remember just what it is and why it is that we have the freedom to celebrate. Here’s to that and to Popley Matters. Every blessing Arthur Vicar, St Gabriel’s 01256324734

Dear Friends September 2018

Dear Friends,
Welcome back!
Is it me or is time really passing quickly? It feels like only yesterday that we were melting in the Mediterranean temperatures of July and here we are in September, though as I write we are still enjoying good weather with the first real autumn temperatures perhaps only just around the corner!
Time often feels like a piece of elastic – it can seem to stretch and go on for ever or it can shrink and pass really quickly depending on what we’re doing, who we’re with or where we are – this becomes more obvious as you get older (so I’m told). But we can also be the ones responsible for speeding things along. Already in some shops we’re seeing a combination of Halloween, Fireworks and Christmas goods on sale and we’re buying into them. Perhaps we could combine them and call it something like ‘Hallo Christ’!
Seriously, these days there hardly seems to be time to enjoy the moment, relive the experience or reflect on the journey! WHAT’S THE RUSH!!! I sometimes think we need to impose speed limits on our lives so that we don’t miss the best moments. How often do you take time out to be still and quiet, more importantly do you take time out to be still and quiet? In the midst of all the daily activity of our busy lives it becomes increasingly important to seek out those quiet moments, to find time just to chill out and be ourselves. King David the author of many of the Psalms in the Bible wrote “Be still and know that I am God!”
As we return to the more normal routine of life after summer the daily focus tends to be on meeting our physical and emotional needs but it’s more important that we do not neglect our spiritual needs too. So when those quiet moments occur take the opportunity to follow King David’s example and be still before the one who created all things.
In Christ
Vicar of St. Gabriel’s
P.S. Hope to see you at one of our Harvest Festival Weekend events 21st to 23rd – see our website or fb for more

Who hopes for what they already have

Happy New Year!

Who hopes for what they already have?

Dear Friends

Okay, let’s all say a big welcome to 2018!


Christmas and New Year celebrations are done and dusted for another year and it’s time to take down the tinsel and lights – my bank account is a few pounds lighter and I’m a few pounds heavier so it’s time to sit down and seriously consider my New Year’s resolutions. Actually, a few years ago I made the one and only resolution that I’ve managed to keep and that’s NOT to make any more New Year’s resolutions.

That doesn’t mean to say I don’t have hopes, plans and dreams for the coming year, without them life could be really dull. At St Gabriel’s we’re really looking forward to the completion of the extension to our community buildings. They’re looking really smart and we hope to have the first phase in use by the end of January!

So what are your hopes for the coming year? Perhaps you’re looking forward to a family wedding or a birth; or maybe that holiday of a lifetime in the summer; perhaps a career change or a move of home. Perhaps the year ahead looks uncertain – career prospects looking dodgy, finances stretched or ill health. Hopes and plans are important to us as they provide something to hang onto when times are tough. Hope for something better lying just around the corner, planning for a brighter future. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews in the Bible writes “who hopes for what they already have?

Before I became a Christian I used to dream of career and financial success in the belief that it would bring an end to all of my life’s worries and anxieties. I used to believe that if I worked hard enough for the family the kids would grow up without suffering any of the storms of life that I’d had to sail through. Unrealistic or what? But it’s what we spend a lot of our time doing for ourselves and those we love – isn’t it? 

In the Bible I read this: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you not to harm you..” One of the first things I discovered when I became a Christian was the truth of those words and that God has the most amazing plan for my life. God doesn’t promise to take away the stresses and strains of daily living but what he does promise that whatever happens he’ll be their right in the thick of it with us (have you ever read that well known verse ‘Footprints’?) and he promises to fulfil that longing that is deep within our hearts. Whatever your hopes and plans for the coming year I’ll be praying that you may discover the eternal hope held out in the message of Christmas and fulfilled at Easter. St Paul wrote: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with
hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps you might consider making it a New Year’s resolution to discover God’s plan for your life – you won’t regret it!

I wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year and look forward to seeing more of you.
God’s blessings.

Jesus helps us to weather the storm

Jesus helps us to weather the storm

Dear Friends

It’s the thirtieth anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987 and there’s been quite a lot on the TV about it and, as I write, the remnant of Hurricane Ophelia has been battering Ireland and the West Coasts of Britain bringing back memories for many. For some it’s difficult to forget that night and the damage that was done; I’m embarrassed to say that I slept right through it, though not my wife who said she was waiting for the roof to come off and the windows to come in! I guess if you ask some of the older folk in our community, they’ll be able to remember storms of seemingly equal power and ferocity in the past but what strikes me is that with all our technological advances we can control many things but we can never control the weather!’

We all like to be in control, or at least think we are! It’s an issue that seems to govern so many aspects of our lives today, often in a powerful way. We like to feel we are in control of our careers, our relationships, our health, our finances and so on. But what happens when we lose that sense of being in charge, when we feel that things are spinning out of our control? Oddly enough, panic is the most common reaction and people can begin to behave in the most irrational ways – so much so that they seem not to be the people we know and love anymore.

St. Mark tells how the disciples are at sea in their ordinary, wooden-hulled fishing boat with its smell of salt and damp and stale fish. The stained and wet sails are straining under the increasing wind, and the ropes creaking – all so normal and familiar. But as the power of the wind and the waves increases out of control, Jesus is woken up by their anxious panic and they suddenly witness a much greater power and authority than anything in the created world as Jesus commands the storm to be still!

Jesus was actually asleep and the disciples woke him up to tell him to start worrying! It’s worth remembering who were among the crew of this vessel; Peter, James and John were all experienced fishermen! But the lake of Galilee was known for its sudden and ferocious storms with waves reaching over 20ft in height. With the stormy waves pitching the boat up and down, and water coming in over the side, it was beginning to look like a Titanic situation, and there was Jesus fast asleep in the bottom of the boat!

When life seems very scary everything seems to be wildly out of control. Like the disciples in the midst of the storm we sometimes react as they did, screaming out to Jesus, demanding that he take notice and do something. It’s almost as if we want him to join in our panic.

Often in life we will find that when we have invited Jesus into our boat (into our life) we won’t get so thrown by all the stormy problems; things like quarrels between friends, loved ones moving away, financial problems, pressures and stress at work. And if we’re panicking about them so much that we can’t see Jesus helping us to weather the storm, then often we’ll find that we’re given a breather – a bit of space – where things are calmed down long enough for us to realise that, with God in charge, we don’t actually need to be terrified.

With every blessing from your friend and Vicar


Revd. Arthur.

Vicar, St Gabriel’s Church

The Lost Sheep

According to my wife I am a hopeless case. You see, whenever I come into the house I put my car keys or my glasses down and five minutes later they’ve disappeared! Search as we may they can never be found. Usually this happens when we need to dash off somewhere. It’s always a great relief when they turn up – often where I left them – odd that isn’t it? It’s always a frustration when we lose or misplace something that’s important and a real joy when, after a careful search we manage to find it again.

Losing or misplacing a wallet or watch or a set of keys is bad enough but misplacing a child is something else! I well remember the time when our daughter was only three or four years old and we were living in Cyprus at the time. One day we went to the beach and, being a major tourist spot it was very soon crowded. Our daughter played happily in the sand at the edge of the water no more than a few yards from where we were sitting. Suddenly we noticed she was no longer there! We dashed frantically up and down the beach calling her name, anxiously searching for her among the all the faces. Thankfully, as it turned out, she was only a short way away playing with some other children. But our relief and joy that she was safe was far beyond that of finding a misplaced wallet or watch. So it is with God when one person turns back to him.

There is a story in Luke’s Gospel in the Bible (Chapter 15) that is all about the lost and found and is made up of three stories; a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. The stories reveal in a special way a God who is actively seeking to find something that is a real treasure to Him as a loving Father – us! I particularly like the story about the lost sheep.

Life for the shepherd in Jesus’ time was a hard and diff cult one. Pasture was scarce and the sheep would often wander into dangerous places in search of greener grass (sound familiar?). The shepherd was personally responsible for the sheep. If he lost one he would at least have to bring home the fleece to show how it had died. There was not a shepherd around for whom it was not all in a days work to risk his own life in order to save one of his flock.

This is the picture Jesus was drawing of God. It is, he was saying, exactly what God is like. God is as glad when a lost soul is found as a shepherd is when a strayed sheep is brought home. God knows the joy of finding the things that have been lost.

Next time you lose something and are busily and perhaps frustratingly searching for it, perhaps you may remember these stories of Jesus. Do we seek our own deepest hearts desires as earnestly as we do a lost article? Are we, like sheep, just meandering from one patch of green grass to another without looking up and seeing where we really are? And are we listening for the voice of the great Shepherd?

Your friend in Christ,



It’s all about community

It’s all about community

Dear Friends

It’s been one of those weeks here at St Gabriel’s!  It began with the arrival on the Monday of the Contractors who will be building our new extension to the side of the church and extending our present hall. Boy these guys are really skilled and I’m completely fascinated by the whole process.  In just five days they created and fenced the compound off then portakabins of various sizes arrived along with a digger and a dumper truck.  Tuesday saw them begin the work in earnest with the marking out of the site and then digging the trenches for the footings.  They moved at lightning speed and by the Friday they were pouring concrete for the footings.  I’m amazed, excited and a little anxious by the speed of all the changes.  In the Bible God says through the prophet Jeremiah “for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  He’s certainly doing that and we look forward to all that the new facilities will bring to this wonderful community! 


Speaking of community … on the Thursday of this week we said a farewell to Jim Guntrip.  Jim was a real stalwart of Popley and a real community minded individual expressed through his contributions to Merton Infant School as caretaker and as support for his family who have actively run the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides groups at Popley Fields.


It was the largest funeral we’ve had at St Gabe’s with just over 160 folk crammed into the church to hear and to share in the very special memories of Jim that so many of us hold.


Both the building work and Jim’s funeral have one thing in common – it’s all about community and at St Gabe’s that is where our focus is and will always be – it must be!  I hope that many of you will take the time to visit our website and take a look at the work that’s going on and if you feel so moved come and visit – you’ll be made perfectly welcome. Secondly, can I encourage you to become involved in your community in some small way.  There are so many great groups running in and around Popley and they’re always looking for more volunteers.


May God richly bless you and yours over the coming summer and may it be a fruitful one for all of us.


Every blessing

Revd Arthur


Vicar, St Gabriel’s Church

God will never let you down!

God will never let you down!

Dear Friends

Doesn’t summer just bring its own special sights, sounds and smells?  The wafting of barbeque smoke, cold beers on the pub lawn, the scent of flowers, children’s laughter, the splashing of water in paddling pools, men in socks and sandals (I’m not allowed out dressed that way), open topped cars, late summer evenings and glorious sunsets, holidays. I could go on and on. I love the summer time, there’s something about it that just lifts the spirit! My only regret is the lack of football to watch on the TV – mitigated by Wimbledon and the forthcoming cricket test matches even though our teams often let us down!

It’s always difficult to deal with disappointments and the feeling of being let down; so can we be as generous and noble in defeat as in victory? How quickly will all those St George Cross flags disappear if we are beaten and how many of us will still be glued to the TV to watch the one day matches?

It’s the same in our every day lives! If we raise our hopes and expectations too high only to be let down our natural instinct is to turn our backs and walk away in despair. There’s a wonderful story in Luke’s Gospel of two followers walking home to the town of Emmaus that really captures the sense of loss and disappointment.

But there is another way (to coin a phrase!). St Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  

These are wise words and worth dwelling on when you’re going through a tough time. One thing you can be absolutely certain of;  God will never let you down, disappoint you or dash your hopes; he has a perfect plan for your life, even if it doesn’t feel like that sometimes – why not give him a chance and try talking to him about it for a moment – you may be surprised!

Have a fantastic summer, long may the sun shine on you and may we look forward to a great celebration of England victory in the test match – bring it on!.


Your Friend in Christ.


Vicar of St Gabriel’s