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Vicar's Letter for this month

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Dear Friends,

Lent will soon be upon us.

On Sunday we will be celebrating the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, also known as Candlemas. The day we remember Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the Temple, and meeting the old man Simeon – a man who epitomises faithful waiting. He is the one who had been promised by God that he would see the one God was sending – the Messiah – before he died. That special day in the temple, as Simeon takes the Christ child into his arms and blesses him, he knows God has kept his promises – recognising Jesus as the Light of the World.

Candlemas marks a turning point in the Christian calendar – our focus changes. At the end of the Candlemas celebration, we turn away from the Christmas crib, and prepare ourselves to walk with Jesus the way of the cross through the weeks of Lent to Holy Week and Easter.

Lent begins on 17 February. Do join us if you can for our Ash Wednesday services – either in the morning at 10am, or in the evening at 7.30pm. Our usual mid-week service will be on Wednesday that week. Sadly, this year, as our services will be via zoom, there will be no imposition of ashes - a great shame. I know many of us find receiving the mark of the cross in ash at that service, a very meaningful way of beginning Lent. 

Lent should be a time for growth.  The actual word ‘Lent’ comes from an old English word for the season of spring meaning ‘lengthening’. We see the natural signs around us – the days drawing out, dark giving way to light; new life beginning all around us as the spring flowers burst into life. Spring is a season of hope, and my goodness, we need to hang on to hope at the moment as we continue through yet another lockdown with the variety of ways that impacts on all of us. Let’s try to travel hopefully through this season of Lent.

Look upon these weeks ahead as a gift from God – a time to be cherished and used. Do something, if you can, to help you grow in your relationship with God. Below are three suggestions:

  • I would love you to join us for the Bible Course we are starting in February. There are already about 14 people signed up. It is not specifically a Lent course, and it is longer than most courses we run – 8 weeks. This is why we are starting early. Don’t worry, we will take a break for a week or so if we need to! Don’t let the thought of 8 weeks put you off. This course is for anyone and everyone – whether you read the Bible regularly, occasionally, or just don’t know how or where to begin – this course is for you. No-one will be put on the spot – that’s a promise!
  • If you haven’t got time to join us for The Bible Course, I would recommend a Lent leaflet produced by the Archbishops called ‘Live Lent – God’s Story, Our Story’. The booklet provides a daily Bible reading, a short reflection and a prayer. It should take about 5 minutes each day. Just the thing for those of you with very little time at the moment.   We will be ordering some booklets, but you can also get the daily input via a free app or emailed to you (see the link below) 
  • I also hope to offer a Quiet Morning or Afternoon via zoom during Lent. Look out for further details.

As usual, we are encouraging adults in the congregation to use Lent to support our mission partners, Mark and Rosalie Balfour, and their work for CMS in Guatemala. We have set up an online giving page through JustGiving with a link on our church website. If you would prefer not to give on-line, we can provide collection boxes or a special gift aid envelope. Please let the Church Office know and we will deliver these to you. There will also be special activities for our children and young people to do at home during Lent, with an opportunity to support Street Kids Direct in Guatemala. This supports work that the SKD team are doing amongst the street children in Guatemala – work that Mark and Rosalie see first-hand. 

Wishing you all a holy, blessed and hope-filled Lent.

With my love and prayers,

Joan