2nd Sunday of Epiphany

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From the Rector: Give up? No, take up!

All the Sundays in February are defined in terms of time before the start of Lent, so Sunday 5th February is the 4th Sunday Before Lent. Ash Wednesday falls on 1st March this year, so all the Sundays in March are in this penitential and reflective season. Theologically, repentance includes the idea of turning afresh to a new way of life, especially as we prepare for Easter.

Lent may have originally followed the Epiphany, but for centuries it has become firmly attached to Easter, the principal occasion for baptism and for the reconciliation of those who have fallen by the wayside. So in preparation, Lent is about self-examination, repentance, self-denial, study and almsgiving.

Recently, I was moved by the efforts of a retired army officer, his son and one of his son’s friends. They walked the South Downs Way ‘like tramps’ relying on the kindness of others for food and shelter – comparative luxury was sleeping on the floor of Exton Church on a wet, cold December night. They did this to raise money and awareness for the homeless and those suffering from mental health problems, especially ex-service personnel suffering from PTSD (https://www.justgiving.com/teams/likeatramp2016).

I was also impressed by a young fundraiser from Great Ormonde Street Hospital, who stood shivering on doorsteps in freezing rain in January to ask us to give to the hospital that helps some local children as well as others from far afield. (www.gosh.org).

Most worthwhile things take effort but the subsequent reward goes beyond pecuniary return and even praise. The effort itself revitalizes our inner selves as well as helping those we seek to support.

That’s why I have I chosen to write less about by self-denial – giving something up, and just to write a few words about denying the self by taking something up for the sake of others, like the ‘tramps’. It does not have to be a great physical effort, but it could be something like PRAY. BAKE. READ. This is a Diocesan Initiative to improve our connection with local infant and junior schools – helping our local schools by supporting the staff by offering to:

  • Pray for the schools
  • Bake a cake for the staff each half term
  • Listen to a student read once a week.

Having three parishes in the benefice, with three separate PCCs and officers, we are always seeking new people to help. Could you help:

  • assist in the record-keeping of our funds in and out or by taking a more detailed look at our funds and preparing forecasts and budgets?

 

  • by standing as a Churchwarden with a special responsibility with the Rector for the life of the parish or by joining a PCC?
  • by assisting the editing of ‘The Bridge’?
  • with some routine administration, or acting as a Secretary to the PCCs, or maintaining with the website?
  • by singing, supporting social activities or fundraising in and around the churches?

There is so much that can be shared, and whatever your gift, taking up something in Lent may serve others better than giving something up – it might make us feel better too.

Historically, candidates for baptism were instructed in Christian faith during Lent, so we invite you to join one of our Lent discussion groups (details will be posted on the website (www.bridgechurches.org.uk), published in the churches, and in the Pew Sheets from the beginning of February.

We are looking forward to the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare or Refreshment Sunday) and the Annunciation – giving us the roots of Mothering Sunday. So, do please join us for a special service at Exton Church at 10:30 on 26th March when the traditional and the informal meet together, with young and old celebrating as one.

May God, who from the death of sin raised you to new life in Christ, keep you from falling and set you in the presence of his glory. Amen.

 

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