It is somewhat strange to be writing about Christmas for you to read in February! However a joint December/January magazine means that I haven’t had a chance to write to you since the end of November. So a happy New Year and thank you to everyone who worked hard to make our churches look clean and beautiful, to our organists and those who facilitated worship in any way, and to those who worked especially hard on Christmas crafts and other fundraising activities.
Of course many of these things go on throughout the year and thanks must also go to the many who work behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly, and those who are generous with their time, money and other resources. I am also most grateful to the Reverend Nick Daw (I cannot now imagine life without an Assistant Curate!), and to the other clergy and Readers in the South East Team.
The seasons of Christmas and Epiphany officially come to an end at Candlemas on 2nd February and we shall be holding a Team Evensong at Whittington on Sunday 1st at 6.30pm. Please come along to worship with us alongside members of our other churches. As we look away from the nativity and towards the cross, the crib will be stripped at that service.
Candlemas is another time to say thank you as we remember that, 40 days after Jesus’ birth, his parents took him to the Temple as part of the Jewish customs of purification and redemption. On this occasion they would have naturally said thank you for the gift of life and a safe delivery. Here they encountered the elderly Simeon and Anna, with their messages that Jesus would bring about salvation for the world.
Ash Wednesday will be on 18th February and there will be the usual service of Holy Communion at 10.00am at St Mark’s and a Team Holy Communion at Whittington at 7.30pm. These services will involve the imposition of ashes whereby, if you choose, you may come forward to receive the sign of the cross in the ashes created from the burning of last year’s palm crosses. free domain . domain analysis This is an outward sign of our inward repentance and a symbol of our commitment to Jesus Christ.
Woodlands Junior School in Kent, a source of great school resources, gives the following childhood memory: I remember putting an ash twig down my sock on Ash Wednesday. This was to keep me safe, as anyone who did not have an ash twig could have their foot stamped on. I have since read that this was a tradition in South East England.
Other traditions are of course fasting for Lent (beginning on Ash Wednesday) and, more commonly these days, taking something up rather than giving something up. If you read a good Lenten book then please review it for future issues of this magazine. And please support one of our services on Ash Wednesday, and I promise that your toes will be safe!
Finally may I wish us all a productive Lent, time to re-evaluate our lives and our contributions to the world in which we live, and time for self-improvement. Above all, time to be thankful to God for His good gifts, and for His Son Jesus Christ who suffered for our salvation.