From the Rectory
February 2nd is Candlemas, the feast which commemorates the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It takes place forty days after the birth of the baby Jesus; most memorably recalled for many Christians by the reciting of the Nunc Dimittis. Ten days later and we are at the beginning of Lent. We plan a Quiz for Shrove Tuesday in the George Lee Room - I’m beginning to compose it at the moment, taking into account criticism of my attempts in the past, you might be pleased to know that I am making it easier this year.
The Lent observances begin on Wednesday 13th February with the Service of Holy Communion with the imposition of ashes. This year we will again have two Lent Study Groups, one in the afternoon and one in the evening for those who are working. We will be using a five week study course based on the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are the poor in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The aim of this course is to explore and grapple with the Beatitudes - or beautiful attitudes - described by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. These eight radical sayings from Matthew’s gospel contain both values for living and promises of blessing.
Christianity is essentially a ‘lifestyle’ religion. It is as much about what and who we are as about what we say or believe. The Scriptures are not primarily books of doctrine, but rather stories of how the revelation of God has made an impact on and shaped the lives of those who have heard the message.
We live in a rapidly changing world. Increasingly, ours is a culture where people are less interested in religious activity than in ‘Spirituality’, and more interested in ‘resources for living’ than in doctrines or creeds. In a climate where lifestyle and well-being are major preoccupations and where values and codes are judged by whether they WORK, the challenge for the Church is twofold: to equip its members more wholly to live their faith; and to demonstrate to those outside the Church that a knowledge of God makes sense of the whole of life. The Beatitudes focus our minds on what makes us truly happy. These eight short verses are a rich mine of resources for living. They call us to ‘live the kingdom - now’ and to encounter God’s blessing as we do this.
Look out for the list for names if you are interested in taking part in this year’s Lent Study Course. The weekday sessions will be on Wednesday afternoons from 2.00 p.m. to approx. 3.30 p.m. in the George Lee Room. Malcolm Harper will be running the evening sessions.
Full details of this year’s Holy Week and Easter Services will appear in the March edition of our Parish Magazine.
Yours for Christ's sake.