Frensham Village Churches

Letter from the Vicarage - March 2017



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1st March 2017 marks the beginning of Lent with that strange day called Ash Wednesday.  In the Church this day literally ‘marks us’, as we are marked with a gritty ash cross on our foreheads in a special service to call us to repentance, which means to ‘turn around’.


Then we begin a deep examination of self both personally and corporately as church people, trying to be faithful to God – we spend time (like the Israelites did in the desert for 40 years after leaving Egypt with Moses, but we do for just 40 days) pondering our knowledge and relationship with God and with each other in body, mind and spirit.  Lent is a time of self-reflection and correction – a time of being ‘shriven’ – being pulled in or disciplined because sometimes in our lives we have let too many things go.


Often people give up things to improve or discipline their bodies – alcohol, chocolate, etc.  Some people take up an exercise or fitness regime.  Others may give of their financial or practical being to help those who have less or even nothing – so charitable giving is a big feature of Lent.  {Please note: our Lenten collection of money in jars this year is going towards keeping The Vine Homeless Centre open for at least one night –this costs in the region of £530 per night.  The Vine gets some money from the Council to stay open for approximately 15 nights per year between November and March when the temperatures are sub-zero but you will have known that this winter particularly there have been many more sub-zero nights so we want to help out in readiness for next year.  So please fill as many jars as you can with your loose change and bring to St Mary’s church from Palm Sunday 8th April – please also do add to your jar a yellow gift aid envelope from the church with your details so we can get 25% more. We will then collect it all together and give to The Vine for the next winter.}


Some spend more time in improving their mind with reading or a discipline of study to increase their knowledge about life and/or faith or open their thinking and attitudes.  This hopefully could enhance dialogue on many interesting levels which could even lead to a more peaceable world.  Think about it - if more people spent time learning that being different could be a creative tension and not being destructive through ignorance and fear – wouldn’t that also be a good use of the Lenten time?


Others may spend more time in quiet reflection, prayer or contemplation to assess, acknowledge, evaluate and restore their relationships with God and with other people.  This may bring about changes in their lives as separation (what we call ‘sin’ – selfishness, behaviour problems, hurting one another physically, mentally or emotionally) from God and each other is not healthy, and reconciliation in love is actually a key reason for what we are all here and why we exist.


So, Lent is a deep and big time for turning around and changing our lives.  As we all journey together, as we ‘empty out’, as we give of ourselves…may we know that in many ways we barely touch the surface.  ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who so believes in him may have eternal life’.  Generally we are not asked to completely sacrifice ourselves as Jesus Christ did – indeed we don’t need to go to these lengths because God has already given himself in Christ on the cross to reconcile the world to a Life of Love in God. Last month I talked about belonging – we do all belong – but some feel separated through either their own ‘stuff’ or stuff that has been put upon them.  It’s time to sort out our stuff.


Let’s see what we can do to help ourselves and others really belong to God and each other this Lent, eh?


With love, prayer and blessings