From the Vicar
Carving out our time at Lent
One thing is sure; life is never dull! Life nowadays is 24/7 and we can have anything we want, when we want. Seems like a good thing doesn’t it? A flexible world where we have complete choice over what we do and when. If I want to do my food shopping at midnight I can. If I want to buy some shoes online, while eating left over pizza and face timing my friend in Australia it’s achievable and even on Sunday at 10am! Oh dear that time appears to rule me out as I seem to have made a regular commitment to do something every week at that time.
However I do like the fact that I don’t have to remember to get to the shops before they shut at 5pm anymore or do I?
Sometimes I feel like I am running on empty, reacting to what everything throws at me and I long for some pattern and stability.
It is like the regular beat of your heart or the routine hug and kiss of your child as they go of to school or at bedtime. It makes me feel grounded and rooted to something. It means I am not in a perpetual state of anxiety wondering what I do next.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday on the 6th of March. It lasts for 40 days and is a reminder of Jesus and his journey in the wilderness. Lent derived from the old English word to ‘lengthen’ which pointed to the days getting longer as we look towards new growth at spring. Before plants can grow they need time to be nurtured in the soil.
Lent is a time to take back stability in our lives and to carve back a healthy pattern of prayer and worship. We can start going to worship on a Sunday or we can do it more calmly and regularly rather than rushing to fit it all in. It can mean carving out quiet time to be with God however we find ourselves, to talk, to plead, to laugh, to cry, to invite him into our space and watch how the Spirit moves us as we carve out this time.
On Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent we reflect on what it truly means to be human, to give ourselves back and to be forgiven, to create a new pattern. One that feeds our soul, calms and heals our minds and enables us to feel at peace, accepted and loved.
As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God. My soul is a thirst for God, even for the living God.Psalm 42
The Ash Wednesday Service in the round on Wednesday 6th March at 12.30 is a meaningful way to mark the start of Lent, receive the imposition of ashes and your Lenten heart. Community cafe is open after the service.
Rev. Mell Jemmett
From the Vicar
Candles are very popular in the home. You only have to go to a big shopping mall to see how many shops sell them in all different shapes, smells and patterns. We are quite fascinated with them, the light and feel they bring. People put them round the bath, in fireplaces, on the table, in jars, in ornaments on shelves and in lanterns on the floor. We love to create a comforting atmosphere in the home.
At the start of February is the Feast of The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, also known as Candlemas. Traditionally Christians said their last farewells to the Christmas season on Candlemas, 2 February. This is exactly 40 days after Christmas Day itself. 40 is a very significant number in the bible. In New Testament times 40 days old was an important age for a baby boy, it was when they made their first ‘public appearance’. Mary as a proud and loving mum of Jesus went with Joseph to ‘present him to the Lord’. Thus we have the Festival of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
So where does the Candlemas bit come in? Jesus is described in the New Testament as the Light of the World, and early Christians developed the tradition of lighting many candles in celebration of this day. Thus creating not just atmosphere but a symbol of this wonderful moment where the child, Jesus was revealed.
The Church created a custom of blessing the year’s supply of candles for the church on this day of Candlemas (candle- mass) The story that describes the meaning in this day can be found in Luke 2:22-40. Simeon and Anna have waited a very long time to finally meet Jesus.
Simeon’s great declaration of faith is of course found in the words of the Nunc Dimittis, a song you will hear sung or said in the Office of Evening Prayer in the West. You might also hear these words at a funeral after the committal. The Nunc Dimittis was first used on Candlemas during the distribution of candles before the Eucharist.
The words were first spoken by Simeon, on realising who Jesus was in the temple he declared, “my eyes have seen your salvation … a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel”
So in the dark months ahead we can all light a candle and ask for his protection. We gather together in church to banish away the winter blues, light a special candle and feel his comfort and strength that will see us all through. As we journey towards Lent, from the crib to the cross we shall behold his glory and understand the hope of our salvation.
God bless you and keep you safe in his care always.
Rev. Mell Jemmett
Visitors light candles in an Orthodox church by the sea in Cyprus