St Thomas the Apostle, Parish Church of Groombridge, East Sussex, United Kingdom Diosese of Chichester

December / January Newsletter 
from Revd Sharon Francis

Revd Sharon Francis 





Dear Friends

 Sharing the Christmas Story

Last year, in my Advent Sunday sermon I tried to up my street cred by talking about the new Star Wars film.  Luckily, the children in the congregation sensed that I was on unfamiliar territory and came to my rescue; correcting me, for example, when I mentioned a ‘sword’ rather than a ‘light sabre’.  I warned against buying the Star Wars Advent Calendar as it ended on 21 December, the date when the film was released into cinemas, and reminded them that the season of Advent goes right through to Christmas Day. 

This year we have been promoting the Real Advent Calendar which comes with a small booklet of the Christmas story, and a piece of Fairtrade chocolate behind each date. I was shocked to learn that in the UK, among 5-7 year olds, 36% don’t know whose birthday is celebrated at Christmas and 72% don’t know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  The calendar has proved surprisingly popular among parents, grandparents and Godparents, and it’s good to know that some of our children will be following the Christian journey of Advent through to Christmas Day. 

Advent means ‘coming’.  It is a time of preparation, expectation and joyful anticipation as we look forward once again to the celebration of Christmas.  The details of our Lord’s birth are somewhat at variance in the Gospel stories.  Was it an ox’s stall or a house?  Were there angels present or wise men?  Was there a star?  But I firmly believe that it did happen in Bethlehem, that Mary was his mother, and that this Emmanuel child (God-with-us) was the channel through which God the Father re-connected with lost humanity.  Jesus came to show God’s love for us.   At the end of the day, it is not a telling of the Nativity story that will lead us into faith, but a living encounter with Jesus Christ, and that is available to all who seek it.

All the Christmas services are listed on the website and in the magazine.
Come and join us, bring your friends and family, and share the Christmas story.

Christmas blessings,

Confirmation Classes for Adults

Confirmation Classes for adults will be starting in the new year.  An initial session will be held on Sunday, 15 January 2017 at 5pm in Church.  If you are interested in exploring this next stage in your faith journey, please contact Richard Thirkell (01892 864405) or e-mail

Groombridge Winter Lectures at St Thomas’  Church

Meeting Christianity Again for the First Time

The Revd Tony Rutherford
Wednesday 7 December 2016 at 7.30pm – 9pm

How do we communicate our faith today? How do we describe Christianity to those who are unaware or put off by modern trends?  Because if we can't, the church will die. Tony Rutherford, a local Anglican priest retired from full time parish ministry, will lead an evening which will suggest a way of presenting our faith without using religious language. Dialogue welcome!

Sinner?  Wife of Jesus?  Or who?  - a fresh look at Mary Magdalene and her significance for today

Canon Dr Anthony Cane,
Chancellor, Chichester Cathedral

Wednesday 25 January 2017 at 7.30 - 9 pm

Dr Cane will explore the portrayal of Mary Magdalene in the New Testament and subsequently, including the non-Biblical Gospel of Mary, an influential sermon  by a sixth century Pope, and the Dan Brown blockbuster The Da Vinci Code.  He will also explore what we can learn about Jesus, and about following Jesus, from his relationship with the woman who has been called ‘apostle to the apostles’. 

 Cost:  £3 per lecture on the door to include glass of wine or soft drink.

 Further information available from Sharon Francis 01892 864265

 or at








Revd Sharon Francis MA BTh - The Vicarage, 4 The Close, Corseley Road, Groombridge TN3 9SE
Telephone 01892 864265
©2013 Parish Church of St Thomas the Apostle, Groombridge