Into the dark world
a snowdrop comes,
a blessing of hope and peace
carrying within it a green heart:
symbol of God’s renewing love.
Come to inhabit our darkness, Lord Christ,
for dark and light are alike to you.
May nature’s white candles of hope
remind us of your birth
and lighten our journey
through Lent and beyond.
Well in the last month it feels like we have experienced three seasons in one. We started February with snow and ended in shorts and t-shirts! Hopefully we can settle back into spring weather as it should be at this time of year. This week we enter the church season of Lent, a word that means ‘Spring’.
In the history of the Church, Lent was the time for preparation and teaching of those to be baptised at Easter and a season of fasting and penitence for those who were to be readmitted to communion following exclusion for speaking against God or the church. In time, the whole Christian Community was invited to join them in study and fasting.
Whether we choose to give something up, or be more intentional in our service to others, it is a time to reflect on our life as Disciples (followers of Christ) and an opportunity to renew our discipline of prayer and study of God’s word in Scripture. That may sound a bit grand and holy, but it is just about getting closer to God, to a God who knows us and loves us and wants the opportunity to show us. But being human, we are easily distracted by life… so lent gives us 40 days to try a little harder, to put ourselves out a bit, to think a little less about us and more about God. And it is a time when we do that together.
I would really like to encourage you to join a lent group this year, we have tried to provide different days and times (please contact the office for more details) but if there isn’t anything to suit you, please talk to me or Chris and we will see what we can do. If you can’t get to a group, why not ask for a copy of the book so that you can read and pray along with us.
'January brings the snow; makes the toes and fingers glow.'
So starts an old children's book that waas a firm favourite with my daughters. There is nothing like an extreme weather event to bring people together, friends and neighbours checking in on each other.
I was reading about how one pub in Cornwall took in over 100 motorists stranded overnight on Bodmin Moor, with makeshift beds in the dining room and lounge. Closer to home, a local car dealer made two Land Rovers available to the Bristol Community Health Team so that they could get to patients through the snow.
That 'pulling together' is a foundation of the Gospel, as we are called to 'Love one another...' St Paul illustrates this with his famous image of the Church as a body, each part dependant on the other and each member with a part to play. "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body....Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many....Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."
1 Corinthians 12:12,14,17
It is that time in the Church year when we start to prepare fot the Annual Meeting, which this year will be on Wednesday 24th April. A time to celebrate all that God has done in the past year, a time to thank those who have served faithfully all year in so many parts of Church life. Those who are seen and all the unseen people who quietly keep the wheels moving. And a time to look forward....
So many in our church do so much already - faithfully and well. But this month, I encourage each of us to prayerfully consider the part God wants us to play in his Church, that we might 'pull together' in love for each other and the community we are called to serve.