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  18 February 2018
First Sunday of Lent
(First Sunday in Lent)

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In February and March, the spring flowers and the lengthening days brighten our spirits. Our New Year’s resolutions perhaps at least started well and those extra pounds we put on over Christmas may have at last come off. In the days from refrigeration and extensive transport links, the harvest stores would now be dwindling – the return of food crops is still some time off – fasting was a way of eking-out what remained in store as well as being a spiritual discipline for Lent. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, on 14th February this year, and it leads us, as we reflect, to the joy Easter Day on 1st April in 2018.

Lent is perhaps most associated with giving things up, with an origin in the Lenten discipline of fasting.  Leo the Great, a genuine peace-maker, and a wise and holy cleric, wrote as long ago as the 5th century: “The sum total of our fasting does not consist in merely abstaining from food. In vain do we deny our body food if we do not withhold our heart from doing wrong and restrain our lips so that they speak no evil. … They, who desire to do good works, let them not fear that they shall be without the means: since even for giving two pennies, the generosity of the poor widow of the gospel was glorified!”  (See Luke 21:1-4).

Fasting can be a means by which we find the energy to moderate and even restrain our personal indulgence or better still to make time to take some positive steps.  What positive steps can we take, without giving up?

A Lenten Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

For many centuries marking the season called Lent has immediately preceded Easter.

 Its origins in a period of reconciliation of those excluded from the Church and of preparing people for baptism after a period of repentance explains the characteristic notes  of Lent – self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study, and preparation for  Easter, to which almsgiving has traditionally been added.

As the candidates for baptism were instructed in Christian faith, and  as penitents prepared themselves, through fasting and penance, to be  readmitted to communion, the whole Christian community was invited
to join them in the process of study and repentance, the extension of  which over forty days would remind them of the forty days that Jesus  spent in the wilderness, being tested by Satan.

Ash Wednesday and the 40 Days of Lent

Ashes are an ancient sign of penitence; from the middle ages it became  the custom to begin Lent by being marked in ash with the sign of the  cross. The calculation of the forty days has varied considerably in Christian  history. It is now usual in the West to count them continuously to the end  of Holy Week (not including Sundays), so beginning Lent on the sixth  Wednesday before Easter, Ash Wednesday.

Churches are kept bare of flowers and decoration in Lent. The ‘Gloria in excelsis’  is not sung.


The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare or Refreshment Sunday)  was allowed as a day of relief from the rigour of Lent, and the Feast of the  Annunciation almost always falls in Lent; these breaks from austerity are  the background to the modern observance of Mothering Sunday on the  Fourth Sunday of Lent.


News from the Parish of St Mary and All Saints, Droxford

St Mary and All Saints, the Church in Droxford, has at last been given permission, both by Winchester City Council and the Church of England, to build the extension on the north side of the Church to house a much-needed kitchen and toilets. This is the culmination of five years of hard work by the Parochial Church Council (PCC) and Friends of Droxford Church (FODC).

The first task we faced was to save the Church, which was in danger of being closed and mothballed. An intense campaign of fundraising was undertaken, and the result was spectacular, over £250,000 was raised, largely from a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  These funds have enabled the Church to be saved and repairs to the roof, tower, eastern walls and drains were completed last year.

An integral commitment in the successful HLF application was the promise of a community room to make the Church accessible to the wider community in Droxford.  The north chapel has already been prepared for transformation into a community room. Do look at the stylish glass screens, if you have not seen them yet – you can start to see the potential of the whole space.

Now, we turn our focus towards building an extension on the North side of the church to house the kitchen, office and toilets.

Fundraising for building this extension has already started, and we have funding pledged by a number of bodies and institutions including HLF, Hampshire County Council and South Downs National Park Authority. We are over half way to the funds we need, but we are not there yet, and need every bit of help from the community we can get.

Please help support this very worthwhile cause. A community room which can be used by individuals, clubs and even as a pop-up cafe will be a tremendous asset to the village, and the new facilities will enable our church to welcome worshippers and visitors alike as they and we would expect in the 21st Century.

You can help by participating in fund raising events which will be rolled out in 2018. Or by a straight donation through the FODC`s website ( .  We would welcome any suggestions for fund-raising events – especially ideas and volunteers to help organise them:  please contact one of our Churchwardens, Ann Symes ( or Sheila Matthissen ( if you can help.

To keep up-to-date, please sign up for on the form on the back of this flyer and return it to me, or one of the Church Wardens. This flyer can also be downloaded from the this link so you can email it to me or a Church Warden.

Thank you in advance. I hope you enjoy all the Christmas Celebrations, too.

With the Season’s greetings, the hope of a joyous Christmas and and my prayers for you and for those you love for the New Year.

The Rev’d Tony Forrest


The Rectory, Rectory Lane, Meonstoke. SO32 3NF 01489 877422



Hackney and Bishop’s Waltham Deaneries Link

For many years the Deanery has collected food and clothes for a variety of church needs in Hackney to be taken up in December. Earlier this year our friends in Hackney told us that they now have built up their local contacts including food collections in their local Waitrose and several Schools so that they no longer need distance support. They have asked us to convey their warm thanks for our help over the years. Because of this there will be no collection of food and clothes for Hackney this Autumn. We shall still be grateful for any gifts of money which can be made payable to Bishop’s Waltham Deanery and will support our seven partners including the Winter Night Shelter. We will hope to meet our partners again during a Walk of Prayer probably in August next year. Norman Chatfield.

Meon Valley Food Bank – PLEASE HELP

A very Big ‘Thank You’ for all your kind donations,

MVFB have been able to help a further 58 people over the first couple of weeks of December which would not be possible without all your support.

1275 people have now been given food since our opening in February 2015.

Being able to support our local people who are at ‘Financial Crisis Point’ with the provision of food is such a wonderful testimony to our local churches and Community.

The items needed for the coming week are tinned meat meals, corned beef/tinned ham, cereals, part baked baguettes and jelly/angel delights. Thank you.

Follow MVFB on twitter @MeonValleyFB or at




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