Update for Forest Row for Sunday, 7th April, 2024

Seeing is believing… (John 20:19-31)

The scientific method is based on the belief that we can only know what we can verify with our senses. Sensory data comes to us and we form hypotheses to explain what we have experienced. Convictions we hold about the world that cannot be verified in this way are relegated to the realm of mere belief.

There are many areas of life where we can be glad that our knowledge is based on more than feelings, hunches or what we have heard from others. How good it is that we have agreed on standards of construction based on objective measurement rather than visionary experience! – This means that we can rely on all the engineering infrastructure that makes our modern lives possible.

There are other areas, however, where the test of verification by sense experience does not apply. When we are faced with moral choices, the sense-perceptible consequences of what we decide, if there are any, will only be there in the future, as a result of the decision we have made. We make choices based on our values, on what we believe. Interestingly, the word ‘believe’ comes from the same root as the German word ‘Liebe’. In the New Testament, ‘faith’ has more in common with the meaning we know from the word ‘to be faithful’ than with the modern meaning of irrationally held views about the world. What we believe is what we love, what we will give our loyalty to.

We all experience how the way we look at the world changes our experience of reality, from the trivial level of taking responsibility for our mood to the deepest level where we notice that our lives change when we decide that every day brings a miracle if we look for it. We could think of the whole course of the Act of Consecration of Man as a preparation for an act of knowing in community: no sensory verification could “prove” the reality we experience in bread and wine. As a community we are challenged to know this reality in freedom, to allow it to think in us. When we step forward for communion, we make real that believing is seeing – what our hearts hold dear allows a new reality to come into being.

Tom Ravetz

Here is the poem that Tom read in the Good Friday sermon


We are near, Lord,
near and at hand.

Handled already, Lord,
clawed and clawing as though
the body of each of us were
your body, Lord.

Pray, Lord,
pray to us,
we are near.

Wind-awry we went there,
went there to bend
over hollow and ditch.

To be watered we went there, Lord.

It was blood, it was
what you shed, Lord.

It gleamed.

It cast your image into our eyes, Lord.
Our eyes and our mouths are open and empty, Lord.

We have drunk, Lord.
The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord.

Pray, Lord.
We are near.

Paul Celan

On Friday, 22nd March we had the final session of our series of Bible studies on the Psalms. We will carry on after Easter with some more readings from the Old Testament at the new time of 10am on Thursday mornings. Seven sessions are planned: 11th, 18th and 25th April; 16th and 23rd May; 13th and 20th June. We will take some time in the first session to decide what themes we will turn to.

We have been given a new garden shed where we can store our garden tools and lawnmowers. One final job is needed to make sure our new shed has the longest possible life: it needs to be treated with a waterproof treatment. If anyone would like to do this, we would be most grateful.

Tom Ravetz and Nataliia Shatna


Tom will be in the Stroud congregation to take the Confirmation Saturday 6th to Sunday 7th April.


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Account Name: The Christian Community in Forest Row
Sort Code 30-92-92
Account Number: 00012363
Lloyds TSB, 1/3 London Road, East Grinstead
West Sussex RH19 1AH

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School Lane / Hartfield Road
Forest Row
East Sussex
RH18 5DZ

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Priests of the community: Tom Ravetz and Nataliia Shatna. Contact us on the church email or using the form below.

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