Category Archives: Articles

No longer servants but friends

An article by Revd Will Gibbs for the Redbourn Common Round

‘No longer servants but friends’

These are the words that Jesus says to his followers in John 15 as he teaches them about what it means to live in relationship with each other and with God.

A friend is someone who is there in good times and bad no matter what. At St Mary’s we have many good friends – people who are incredibly supportive of what we are and what we do (even if we don’t see them in church quite as I often as I would like!)

But amongst these friends we also have The Friends – a charity dedicated to looking after the fabric of our village’s oldest building – our amazing Grade 1 listed Parish Church, ensuring that it is cared for and maintained from one generation to the next. Since The Friends of St Mary’s was founded in 1976 they have raised almost £600,000 to help us do this. I want to place on record our sincere thanks to all who’ve been involved over the years and helped raise this amazing total – we are enormously grateful.

But we need to make some new Friends! Our hardworking committee would love your support and here are five easy ways you can help:

  1. Join this fun committee and help to run a few key fundraising events during the year. The committee only meets four or five time a year (in a pub – if that helps to convince you!) and so it isn’t a huge commitment but we’d love a few more people to come along and share their ideas and energy.
  2. Come along to an event and help us raise even more money. Our next event will be a quiz night at The Holly Bush on Saturday 8th Feb at 7.30 pm. Tickets from Revd Will or from the pub – teams of 6 and £10 a head including some food. It should be a lot of fun so get a team together and come along – places are limited.
  3. Come along to our next AGM and hear about the work that has been carried out and the events that have been run. The AGM is on Sunday 26 April at 11.00 am in the Transept Hall attached to St Mary’s and we will reward everyone who comes along to this short meeting (45 minutes) with a glass of wine afterwards!
  4. Please remember The Friends of St Mary’s when you come to make or revise your will. As a registered charity (No. 271677) you can be assured that any money you give will always go exactly where you intended – to look after the fabric of the church and giving in this way can also be very tax efficient as well as supporting a great cause.
  5. Why not run an event and donate the proceeds to The Friends? If you can’t get involved on a regular basis, a one-off event or collaboration would still be amazing. Do get in touch so that we can promote and support it.

We’re all blessed with many friends. Would you become a new Friend to us?



Article: Curious Light

An article by Revd Will Gibbs for the Redbourn Common Round

Candles don’t feature quite so prominently in our 21st century lives as they did for our forebears. We are not so dependent on them as they were (although candles are really handy if a power cut comes along, and we do get a few of those in Redbourn!). Nowadays, we’re more used to seeing them in comedy programmes (did Hyacinth Bouquet’s candle-lit suppers ever take place?), and the Two Ronnies’ four candles sketch lives on in the memory with fondness. We’re also used to seeing candles in period costume dramas; Downton and the like.

But it is in church that candles play the most prominent role these days – at a baptism as a sign that the candidate has received the light of Christ into their life, on the altar reminding us that Christ is the light of the world, and in memorial candles lit in memory of loved ones. And we still experience that magical, excited anticipation of a candlelit Carol Service at this time of year.

But when I think of candles, one particular image comes to my mind. A picture by a Dutch artist called Gerard von Honthorst entitled ‘Christ before the High Priest.’ A marvellous use of light with the High Priest seated at a table on which a single candle burns. A passive Christ stands the other side – their faces are highlighted – the High Priest wags an admonishing finger at Christ who gazes serenely down at him. Shadowy officials lurk in the background, foretelling the brutality to come. The picture has an immense intensity and like all good art, it draws you into its very substance and immerses you in what is happening. And, incredibly, each time you look, although Christ’s face has not altered, every time you can read different thoughts passing between them. Sometimes Christ seems to be rebuking the High Priest – at other times it’s almost as if there is an immense pity and sorrow in Jesus’ gaze. However you view it, I find it absolutely mesmerising.

Gerard van Honthorst - Christ before the High Priest - WGA11650

Gerard van Honthorst [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


I hope that candles will have featured in some way in your Christmas and New Year celebrations. But there are continuing opportunities to enjoy the importance of candles so why not join us for our candlelit Epiphany Carol service at 6.30 pm on 5 January or one of our Candlemas services on 2 February?

In our Christmas services we’ve been welcoming the Light of the World once again with the words. ‘The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it.’ Amazing – all this can be found in a humble stable and a simple candle.

May 2020 be for you, and your loved ones, a year of light and peace and blessing.



Free Nazanin: Supporting Hunger Striker Richard Radcliffe

An article by Kathy Goodchild

I spent last Thursday in a way I had never done before – sitting on a very small stool outside the Iranian embassy in London, helping make posters in aid of hunger striker, Richard Ratcliffe.

So who is Richard Ratcliffe? Most of you will know, but, for those who don’t, Richard is the husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian national, imprisoned in Iran on charges of spying, demonstrably false, but given credence by the former British Foreign Secretary who erroneously claimed that she was in Iran to ‘train journalists’.

Nazanin had travelled to Iran with her two year old daughter Gabriella in 2016 simply to visit her parents. Since then she has been held in prison, a considerable portion of it in solitary confinement, and subjected to psychological torture and harassment, not to mention being deprived of necessary medical investigations. When, last Saturday, Richard received a phone call from her saying that she was beginning another hunger strike (she would drink water), he decided to act in solidarity with her, something he had voluntarily promised her after the last time she attempted such a drastic measure.

So what is the aim of Richard’s brave and desperate action? Principally to force Nazanin’s case back into the headlines and challenge the Iranian authorities, as well as the British, who appear to have done remarkably little over the last three years to aid their citizens imprisoned in Iran (there are several, mostly of British-Iranian dual nationality).

The Iranians were certainly needled; at the beginning of the week they erected huge corrugated barriers in front of their own embassy doorway, then claimed that Richard was blocking their entrance! (In fact, they shot themselves in the foot with this tactic, as the barriers made a terrific ‘notice board’ for the posters, and for the hundreds of brightly coloured ‘post-its’ bearing messages of support for Richard and Nazanin.) Building work was apparently necessary too when Richard first arrived on the scene; railings had to be subjected to the ministrations of an electric sander…at least when Richard was being interviewed.

As for the British government: well, when I was there, the focus was on making and displaying eye catching posters giving messages to the individual candidates for our new PM. Did any of these hopefuls turn up, either then or subsequently? A resounding ‘no’ as far as I’m aware. But a considerable number of MPs did come, and have continued to come, and they are of course the ones who are deeply interested and concerned.

There are many ways to help Richard and Nazanin, even if you can’t get to the embassy pavement. You can connect with them in a personal way, by sending messages of support to Richard at ‘The Tent outside the Iranian Embassy, London’. These will most certainly get there, and even if the strike has ended by the time your card is in the post, it’s a safe bet that they will be delivered to his address in Hampstead.

In a more formal way, it really does help to contact your MP, raising your concerns about this family, and it’s also a good idea to write to The Iranian Ambassador, The Iranian Embassy, 16, Princes Gate, London, SW7 1PT. Furthermore, If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition at

All these actions, although small in themselves, contribute to what needs to be a relentless and unstoppable campaign to free Nazanin. Once she is freed, then the hope has to be that the other British citizens imprisoned in Iran have a better chance of freedom, not to mention the Iranian political prisoners, the human rights campaigners and lawyers, some of whom are languishing under draconian sentences.

Kathy Goodchild


Additional information about Richard and Nazanin’s plight can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Image credit: Free Nazanin Campaign