|Our Christmas preparations and celebrations are now a memory, but last December and
early January brought more than the joy of Christmas. Many could not enjoy the season at
all because of the floods in and around their homes, and even worse the man-made horrors
and disasters that continue abroad.
Even without these terrible onslaughts the winter can seem long and arduous, but now at
least we can begin to feel the changes in the gradual lengthening of daylight hours as we
approach the season of Lent.
Lent means lengthen. Lent is the period of 40 days in the Christian calendar before Easter. 40
days because of the 40 days when Christ went into the wilderness to prepare for his ministry,
and was tempted by Satan. Lent is still marked by some with fasting and by many as a
season of reflection and preparation before we celebrate Easter. The 40 days excludes
Sundays and follows Shrove Tuesday, (pancake day), when traditionally we can have a feast
to use up all the richer foodstuffs, the fats – hence ‘Mardi Gras’, (Fat Tuesday)!
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, which is on 10th February this year, that’s the 7th
Wednesday before Easter. It is traditionally when Christians enter a period of penance and
self-control. Lent was a season that all Christian people recognised and did something about,
but today it is not so easily acknowledged, and often ignored. On Ash Wednesday in church
we will join together in a service to begin this season of Lent, and ashes mixed with oil will be
used to mark the sign of the cross on our foreheads. The ashes are the burnt remains of last
year’s Palm crosses and are symbolic to mark our penitence and mortality.
Lent is not about anything extraordinary, indeed it is about our being ordinary. It is a time
for self-appraisal, a healthy realisation about ourselves. It’s about making a fresh start, about
trying again with sincerity, about facing the challenges of our Christian lives. It’s about
being honest and dependable, loving and giving, in fact being Christ-like. It’s about
connecting with others and especially about getting closer to God.
To do these things Lent may mean we take a good look at ourselves and see if we need to
address any issues and make any changes. Most of us consider giving up excesses during
Lent - like chocolate, biscuits or cake, those extras we indulge in but don’t really need, and
that is a part of Lent but I’d like to encourage not only ‘giving-up’ something, but actually
just ‘giving’ something, and taking on once again a deeper commitment to Christian
Many people, even today, have nothing they can give because they themselves haven’t
enough, they go hungry. Christ suffered and died for justice on earth, and in Lent we focus
on who we follow and why we follow him. May I suggest this Lent we find something we
can spare and give it up lovingly to those who have nothing to spare.
The prophet Isaiah wrote almost 3000 years ago,
‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen…….to share your food with the hungry and to
provide the poor wanderer with shelter’. (Isaiah 58:6-7), and Jesus identified with the needy
when he said,
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me
something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in’. (Matthew 25:35).
Remembering Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness as he prepared for his ministry, may we in
this season of lent focus on the state of our world, where good and evil continue to face each
other, and let us pray for discernment to know what is right, and the courage to do what is
right, in the name of Christ. Amen.
We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus,
who love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show
God’s love in every part of their lives.
|A Prayer for the season of Lent
|Thought for the Month
|Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words..., A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
by the prayer and discipline of Lent
may we enter into the mystery of Christ’s sufferings,
and by following his Way
come to share in his glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
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|Key Contacts during the Interregnum are as below
|We have a new Vicar! It’s with great joy that we are able to
announce that Revd Dr Tim Gill has been appointed vicar of
St Mary’s, We look forward very much to Tim’s ministry
amongst us, and to welcoming him and his family to
Ecclesfield next summer
Please hold them, and the parish they will be leaving
in your prayers
|Until such time as our new vicar takes over the reins next summer, Sunday Services and
Thursday Communion will continue as normal with the help of visiting clergy and our
Bookings for Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals are still being taken
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‘For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for
harm, to give you a future with hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11
|Ash Wednesday Service. There will be a service of Holy Communion at St. Mary’s on Ash
Wednesday, 10th February at 7.30pm, to mark the beginning of Lent.
Lent Evenings. Each Wednesday during Lent we will meet together in church for a short
time of worship and reflection, beginning on Wednesday 17th February at 7.30pm. All are
Lent Lunches will be available on Fridays in church, after Coffee Shop, beginning on 19th
February. Please come and join us for a lunch of soup, and a drink and cake if you wish! All
proceeds will go to Christian Aid.
Ignatian Evening. This will be on 22nd February at 7.30pm in church.
Please continue to pray for all at St. Mary’s as we continue in interregnum.