The Digest, our Parish magazine, comes out monthly. Here are a couple of articles from March’s edition. To read more, pick up a copy from Church when you are next there
Anne Everitt writes…
By the time you receive this magazine, we will be almost halfway through the season of Lent which started on Ash Wednesday. Lent opens by focusing on the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness at the start of his ministry and closes by taking us to Palm Sunday, then into Holy Week and the days leading to the Cross.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem to the acclaim of the crowds and shouts of ‘Hosanna’, yet only a few days later he would face a very different reception and an altogether different fate. Of all the seasons of the Christian year probably none is as misrepresented or misunderstood as Lent, a time that is typically associated solely with sacrifice and self-denial, a time to ‘go without’. This can have a valid place in Lenten observance, but it is by no means the focus of what Lent actually means. At the heart of this season is giving time to God, setting aside a few weeks and making them special in terms of our relationship with Him.
But how do we do this? Despite all the labour-saving devices we have today, it is said that people in our modern world live more frenetic lives than ever before. Many of us have forgotten what it means to pause and ponder, what it means to be still in the presence of God. We may indeed be busy, or at least think we are, but if so we need to change our priorities and make time for what matters most – making time for God and living a life of love – what better time to start than in this season of Lent.
For all its faults and ugliness, we believe that this world is God’s gift to us, so much within it capable of moving us to joy, awe and thanksgiving. Jesus never attempted to deny this, instead his one concern was to warn us against losing our sense of perspective, from being so focused on earth that we lose sight of heaven. The temptation that Jesus faced was to take the easy path rather than the hard, to fit in with the world instead of walking the way of the Cross. It is his refusal to do so that gives us reason to hope and rejoice. He took the road to costly self-sacrifice, the route that led to death because he loves us as we are, with all our faults, warts and all. Lent speaks of the God who loves us not to punish but to forgive us.
Through reflecting on how Jesus gave his life to the Father both through his 40 days and nights in the wilderness and through his life and death beyond, let us seek his help to commit ourselves afresh to loving and faithful discipleship. Let us take time this Lent for stillness and prayer. Just as Jesus always has time for us, teach us to make time for Him not just in this season but always.
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God So Loved the World
‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
This verse has been described as ‘the greatest verse in the Bible’, as it enables us to understand the events of Good Friday and Easter Day. The cross and resurrection reveal the depth of God’s love for each of us.
God’s love is unconditional: God demonstrated the extent of his love by sending His Son into this world, to show us what it looks like: ‘God with skin on’! God graciously loves us, as none of us deserves it. ‘There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.’ (Philip Yancey).
God’s love is sacrificial: The cross is the supreme demonstration of God’s love, as Jesus identifies with a fallen, suffering world. He died for our sins, removing the barrier between us and God, giving access into God’s presence and release from the power of sin and death.
God’s love is accessible: Jesus’ resurrection makes His eternal life available to all who put their trust in Him. It’s an offer of life with purpose, in which we can know God personally, both now and for eternity.
Bobby Moore described receiving the World Cup from the Queen in 1966 as terrifying: ‘I noticed that the Queen was wearing some beautiful white gloves. I looked down at my hands and they were completely covered with mud’! Although we approach God with dirty and spoilt lives, by the cross and resurrection, we can shake hands with a holy God. He offers us ‘life in all its fullness’, with healing, forgiveness, peace and a fresh start in life!
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Are you about to celebrate something? Go easy on the prosecco. A professor from the British Dental Association points out that: ‘prosecco offers a triple whammy of carbonation, sweetness and alcohol, which can put your teeth at risk, leading to sensitivity and enamel erosion.’ Experts from the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry agree: ‘It is acidic and it has sugar in it, so while a few glasses are fine, if you drink too much of it you are going to have a problem.’
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Dear Lord God,
We pray for your help and guidance during our interregnum. Please help our churchwardens, Sandra and Brian, and the PCC, as they lead us through the process to look for a new Rector. Watch over and protect those who will be keeping our worship going and those doing all the many other jobs needed to run our church. Help us all to be regular in worship so our church fellowship will remain strong and healthy. Above all we pray that you will help us to find and chose a new priest who will guide us into the future and grow your church.
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