The churches of Beech Hill, Shinfield, Spencers Wood & Swallowfield serving the community
The churches of  Beech Hill,  Shinfield,  Spencers Wood  &  Swallowfield serving the community
The churches of
Beech Hill,
Spencers Wood
& Swallowfield

serving the community

Welcome to the Loddon Reach Benefice Website

We are a group of four Anglican parish churches who enjoy working collaboratively in serving the people and communities of Beech Hill, Farley Hill, Grazeley, Riseley, Shinfield, Spencers Wood, Swallowfield and Three Mile Cross. Our four parish churches are delightfully different in history and character, each offering a different take on what it means to be active, forward-looking, community-focussed churches of the 21st century. Each church also has its own style of worship, weekly activities and pattern of services that continue to evolve. You should find all you need to know about us as you engage with our website, but if you’d like to meet and talk something through in person… don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Christian Viewpoint

Martin Luther & Halloween

Although he was born in November, it was the last day of October in 1517, that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This would have probably gone unnoticed but for the advent of modern technology. No, not texting or tweeting or posting on Facebook, which is our modern-day equivalent, but by the printing press which had not long been invented. Someone decided to translate and publish his ideas which helped them spread far and wide.

Martin Luther didn’t intend to start a new Church movement but to reform and renew the existing one. Well, the one in the West anyway - the Eastern Church had split away some 500 years earlier. His desire was to see the Church return to the biblical teaching of Christ and the Apostles. But Luther ended up with more than he bargained for when, on Halloween in 1517, his banging on that door started the ball rolling.

Of course, Luther wasn’t trick-or-treating when he approached the threshold of the church in Wittenberg, but it’s likely no accident that he picked the 31st of October. Actually, there’s another angle on Halloween that many are unaware of some 500 years later. Some historians claim the origin is really in pre-Christian harvest festivals among pagans, and that the occasion was later Christianised when the gospel spread through the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago. It may be the case that things started pagan, but perhaps Christians have let unbelieving historians cloud the true origins of observing the 31st of October?

One thing that is clear is where the name comes from — and that it is Christian. The English word Halloween is short for “All Hallows’ Eve,” the night before the 1st of November Christian feast of All Saints (Hallows) Day. As for trick-or-treating, some claim that marking All Hallows’ Eve may have originated as just such an occasion to “trick” Satan, the most prideful of all creatures, by giving him what is most offensive to his arrogance: mockery. As Luther would say, “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.” This is why the custom arose of portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns, tail and toasting fork - the idea is to ridicule him because he has lost the battle with Jesus and he no longer has power over those who trust in Christ.

Therefore, the defeat of evil and of demonic powers is associated with Halloween. For this reason, Martin Luther posted his 95 challenges to the wicked practices of the Church to the bulletin board on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on Halloween. He picked his day with care, and ever since Halloween has also been Reformation Day.

Moving beyond the date, and looking at what Luther wrote, we see that the truth of his first thesis would reverberate throughout his lifetime, even finding expression in his last words. The first thesis reads, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” All of the Christian life is repentance. Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners isn’t merely a one-time experience but the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every day and every moment. Repentance is to be the Christian’s ongoing attitude. And almost 30 years later, on the 18th of February 1546, Luther’s last words, written on a piece of scrap paper, echoed the humble theme of his first thesis: “We are beggars! This is true.”

From first thesis to last words, Luther lived at the foot of the cross, where evil was defeated and our rebellious condition meets with the beauty of God’s amazing and lavish grace and love in the gospel of his Son — a gospel deep enough to cover all the little and massive flaws of a beggar like Luther and beggars like you and me.

Revd David Little

Read more here.

  • Bible Study Course
  • Shinfield Winter Fayre
  • All Saints - Christmas Market & Coffee Morning
  • St Michael's Christmas Fayre
  • St Michaels - Carols by Candlelight
  • All Saints - Carols by Candle Light
  • Music at St Mary's

Read more here.

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