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<< January 2018

February 2018

Sunday 4th February 201809:00Thought for today
James' introduction to todays readings.

Introduction

we keep today as the Feast of 'The Presentation of Christ in the Temple': 'Candlemas' for short. We have transferred this Festival from last Friday, 2nd which was 40 days since Christmas Day. In Jewish law 40 days after the birth when parents were required to 'present' their first born son to God in the Temple in Jerusalem, also the time for his mother's 'purification'. We hear of Simeon and Anna two aged holy people, who longed for the coming of the Saviour of the world, whom they recognised in Jesus. But is saving act was to be costly, 'a sword shall pierce your own heart too' Simeon said to Mary.

With this festival we complete our celebration of the Saviour's birth, and now look to our keeping of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.

Could parents please supervise their children with the candles which we will be lighting at the end of the service.


Reflection during Holy Communion or at home.

Simeon saw something very important and unique in the baby Jesus. Here was the one long promised long ago who was to bring forgiveness for all people and nations, bringing us into the possibility of close fellowship with God in this life, living as God's servants. This is not just for this life but continues on into eternity, serving God and living in unity and love as brothers and sisters, children of God.

God knows you have potential, your life has purpose, whatever age you are. You are called to serve. Like all people, we have potential to bring good to others, through who we are and the lives we lead. How are you bringing a fuller life to others now? Consider the work you do and your places of work and leisure, your home and family... How might God be calling you to shine brighter with his love in the world now and on into the future?

10:30Sunday Morning Eucharist at 1030am
Tuesday 6th February 201809:30Morning Communion Service
Wednesday 7th February 201813:00Jelly Tots - Mums and Toddlers group
Every Wednesday - everyone welcome
Sunday 11th February 201809:00Thought for today
James' introduction to todays readings.

Introduction

In our Gospel reading today we hear the story of Jesus' Transfiguration. He comes to us in our Eucharist today in his word, in bread and wine, and in our fellowship. May we today know His great Glory.

Lent begins this Wednesday Ash Wednesday. As Jesus went up the mountain and was transfigured to show forth His glory, let us pray that in our Lenten pilgrimage we will take full advantage of the extra activities our churches are offering to be changed towards the likeness and glory of Christ, better equipped to serve God in every aspect of our lives.

If you possibly can, please do come to one of services at 10am or 7.30pm on this Holy Day of Ash Wednesday to begin our Lenten Pilgrimage together.


Communion Reflection to use during the Administration of Holy Communion or/and at home.

Consider this about yourself: Who I really am is only a partly realised mystery. The fullness of the mystery is held in the mind of God. With my help (and hindrance) God is continuing to create the ‘real’ me. Ask: how am I going to make use of Lent’s many opportunities to enable His creative work in me and in the world?
10:30Sunday Morning Eucharist at 1030am
Tuesday 13th February 201809:30Morning Communion Service
Wednesday 14th February 201813:00Jelly Tots - Mums and Toddlers group
Every Wednesday - everyone welcome
19:30Ash Wednesday Service
A transcript of Rev. Doug Oates' Sermon
In our Gospel reading Jesus exhorts us to
“store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)

John Connolly’s novel The Book of Lost Things tells the story of a boy called David who escapes from unhappiness at home into the strange alternative world of the books in his bedroom.

As David tries to find his way back home, he is forced to face up to his worst fears. As he does so, he grows from a boy into a man.

Finally, David faces down and destroys the mysterious Crooked Man, the driving force in the alternative world.

The Crooked Man lives for ever, drawing the life-force from small children for his own use. He brings death and despair to all who encounter him.

One of the cruellest things he does is to show people an image of when and how they will die.

This knowledge blights the lives of those who receive it. They can no longer take any pleasure in life, because their death dominates all their thinking.

Human beings are not supposed to know how and when they will die.

But knowing that we will die is a feature of our human life. We are aware of our mortality.

We know that our lives are finite.

We feel in our bodies the signs of ageing.
In order to get on with our lives, we push the knowledge of our mortality to the edges of our consciousness most of the time.

But occasionally we need to remember.

Today is the day the Church gives us for remembering our mortality.

In the context of our belief in Jesus Christ, we do have choices about what happens to us after death.

In today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells his hearers that we make choices, day by day, about what is valuable, not always realising that those choices have ultimate significance.

When we choose to store up our “treasures in heaven”, we are not denying the reality of physical death, only its finality.
Jesus died on the cross in order that we might have life after this mortal life.

As we follow the Church’s tradition and receive ash on our foreheads, we hear the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


We are reminded of the scene in the Garden of Eden, told to us by the authors of Genesis.

Human beings are created from the dust of the ground, and have the life of God breathed into them.

They live contented, unencumbered by awareness of their mortality, until they eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Then they become aware of who they are, in all their frailty, weakness and sinfulness.

They know that as they came from the dust, so they will in the end return to the dust – as will we.

We are invited, today, to think about what will happen to us in the future and even maybe to face up to our mortality, to look it in the face, and not to pretend we are immortal.

It is a painful process.

But we are not left alone to despair.

The words at the imposition of ashes continue: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.”

Today, as we enter the season of Lent, we are reminded that Jesus was a human being like us.

A more fully human person than the rest of us, in his ability consistently to put the claims of God above his human drives and desires; but human like us in being tempted to put self first.

Temptation that he resisted as we are reminded during this season of Lent.

Jesus experienced our weakness, and our mortality.

He knew for himself what it was like to be aware of death, and to be afraid.

He lived, and died, as we do. But by doing so he gave us hope that our mortality is not the last word.

Death did not, ultimately, have power over Jesus, nor does it over those who belong to him.

So as we are urged to remember that we are dust, we are also exhorted to be faithful to Christ, to follow the one who shows us a way to face death and not despair.

The awareness of mortality is both humanity’s greatest tragedy and our greatest gift. It can lead us to despair, but it can also drive us on to greater heights of achievement.

We can allow it to make our lives meaningless, or we can use it to remind us to make the most of the time we have.

The season of Lent encourages us to be honest with ourselves and with God about who we are – weak, sinful, mortal, and in need of salvation.

So we can choose to turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ, and live our lives, for how ever long they may be, to the full, and in God’s service.

Sunday 18th February 201809:00Thought for today
James' introduction to todays readings.

In our Gospel Reading Jesus has gone into the wilderness to try to understand who he is, and his purpose in life. There he confirms his priority in life is serving, worshipping, and trusting his Heavenly Father. It is love that gives him strength to obey and overcome the temptations that beset him.



Like Jesus, loving service, worship and growing trust in God must be our priority, but we never quite get there.. Lent is a time particularly devoted to aligning our life, the Church and the world to God's will. If serving, worshipping, trusting God is the first priority of our life, how does it show in us, particularly in the money we give to our church?



Let us be thankful for all that God offers us through the the sharing of our resources to create the life of our church. If we wish to continue to exist and thrive, we need each one of us to give sacrificially. God will and can only work through us, by our willingness and sacrifice. A huge challenge, but then think Jesus' struggles away from the temptation of a self centred life, and chose instead a life of self giving love to bring life to us all.



Reflection

Lent is a time for us to get our priorities more in line with God’s priorities. What do you intend to do this Lent towards this end? We all have some choice in how we spend our money - think of the widow's mite, that she gave away so so much of what she had. Ask: are the choices I make in my spending choices led by God? What tempts me away from God's way in my spending, and all my other choices in life ? How much are my activities and priorities led by a desire to love, serve and worship God?



10:30Sunday Morning Eucharist at 1030am
Tuesday 20th February 201809:30Morning Communion Service
19:30Lent Course - Les Miserables
In St Mark's Chapel

A brief overview.
Dear Friends

I have recently watched the DVD of Les Miserables, to make preparation for our forthcoming Lent Course at St Mark’s. Itis a fine film with characters, setting and a story thatraise many important questions about life.

Like the rest of us, the charactersand the society of which they are flawed:corrupt with greed, dishonesty, apathy, oppression and injustice.Many struggle in abject poverty bringing the worst of humanity but also the best. Questions about the nature of grace, mercy, repentance, forgiveness and redemption are opened for serious thought. The need fora society of justice and mercy, the rule of law, equality of opportunity, and social care for all to thrive is presented, but no definite answer offered. We are left with much to think about that will stimulate worthwhile conversation to bring a deeper faith, more whole people, a more God centred society.

The two main characters help us to grasp the importance and difficulties of finding possible answers to the issues raised.

Javert’s life’s work is to bring bad people to justice and punishment; there should be no mercy, forgiveness and new starts for anyone. Javerthas never broken the law, and sees no need for him to be forgiven. Jean once stole a loaf of bread to feed his hungry family. Javert is determined that Valjean must go back to prison for life. Jesus broke the law of his people, in order to keep a higher law, the law of love. He gave his life to bring mercy, forgiveness and a fresh starts to all who repent, whatever their sin, and however frequent it is. Many people, like Javert struggle with Jesus’ way, including Christians. It is easy for us to condemn others, and be puffed up with pride if self righteousness. We can hear these views expressed every day, read them in papers and if were are honest, find them in our own hearts in passing judgement on others. Javert is never really alive and free, imprisoned by his lack of love and self knowledge.

Valjean feels he has done wrong and can never be fully forgiven. He believes his life must be spent doing good, in response tothe kindness and mercy the Bishop gave him, but remains beset by guilt, the debt can never be repaid. He fails to see his goodness.He too is imprisoned by guilt and his inability to receive forgiveness and the fullness of love. There is something of Valjean in us all, find forgiveness hard to receive, and blind to the good in us.

Both Javert and Valjean ideas show some of distortions of Christianity, from medieval Christians who continually punished themselves for their sins as Valjean, to 21st century fundamentalists whose rigid moral teaching condemns others to eternal damnation. One final thought, does Valjean finally accept forgiveness and redemption as he dies? He is beckoned by the bishop and Fantine, to whom Valjean had been so kind, and as she died, promised to care for herdaughter.

As Lent progresses, and Holy Week draws near, I pray that in our internal and external conversations, and in all our Lenten activities, God will lead us deeper into the depths of his mercy, forgiveness and fresh starts, now and for eternity. This is a free, unearned gift he offers all, even those who have committed the most dreadful of crimes.

May God feed and grow you this Lent and fill you with Easter joy and life

James
Wednesday 21st February 201813:00Jelly Tots - Mums and Toddlers group
Every Wednesday - everyone welcome
Thursday 22nd February 201819:30Stations of the Cross in St Marks
Saturday 24th February 201809:30CL&CGB Skills Training Day
Training for Brigade Leaders.
19:00Valentines Party
The Brigade are holding a Valentines Party in the Church Hall starting at 7pm.
Everyone is welcome to a fun night of games, dancing with supper provided.
Bring your own drinks, tea and coffee will be provided.
Adults £3, Children £2, Family ticket £8 (2+2)
Sunday 25th February 201809:00Thought for today
James' introduction to todays readings.

Introduction
Where does true beauty lie: in models parading the catwalk in designer clothing; in football played at its best; a sun drenched beach; in a man, full of love, nailed to a cross? Something to think about as we listen to Jesus cry, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'

It is by denying our self-centred, self-serving selves and giving ourselves to God in love, ('the way of the cross') that we uncover our true, God made selves. This is a life long struggle, Lent is a time when we renew our efforts to grow our true beauty.

Reflection
What might you learn about yourself from the self-serving, closed mindedness of Pilate, the Chief Priest and the soldiers? What might you learn from Veronica about your calling from God to become your true self? What particular effort are you making this Lent to 'offer your soul and body to be a living sacrifice...', and thereby uncover your true beauty?

10:30Sunday Morning Eucharist at 1030am
13:30Family Yoga
16:00Messy Church
Tuesday 27th February 201809:30Morning Communion Service
19:30Lent Course - Les Miserables
In St Mark's Chapel

A brief overview.
Dear Friends

I have recently watched the DVD of Les Miserables, to make preparation for our forthcoming Lent Course at St Mark’s. Itis a fine film with characters, setting and a story thatraise many important questions about life.

Like the rest of us, the charactersand the society of which they are flawed:corrupt with greed, dishonesty, apathy, oppression and injustice.Many struggle in abject poverty bringing the worst of humanity but also the best. Questions about the nature of grace, mercy, repentance, forgiveness and redemption are opened for serious thought. The need fora society of justice and mercy, the rule of law, equality of opportunity, and social care for all to thrive is presented, but no definite answer offered. We are left with much to think about that will stimulate worthwhile conversation to bring a deeper faith, more whole people, a more God centred society.

The two main characters help us to grasp the importance and difficulties of finding possible answers to the issues raised.

Javert’s life’s work is to bring bad people to justice and punishment; there should be no mercy, forgiveness and new starts for anyone. Javerthas never broken the law, and sees no need for him to be forgiven. Jean once stole a loaf of bread to feed his hungry family. Javert is determined that Valjean must go back to prison for life. Jesus broke the law of his people, in order to keep a higher law, the law of love. He gave his life to bring mercy, forgiveness and a fresh starts to all who repent, whatever their sin, and however frequent it is. Many people, like Javert struggle with Jesus’ way, including Christians. It is easy for us to condemn others, and be puffed up with pride if self righteousness. We can hear these views expressed every day, read them in papers and if were are honest, find them in our own hearts in passing judgement on others. Javert is never really alive and free, imprisoned by his lack of love and self knowledge.

Valjean feels he has done wrong and can never be fully forgiven. He believes his life must be spent doing good, in response tothe kindness and mercy the Bishop gave him, but remains beset by guilt, the debt can never be repaid. He fails to see his goodness.He too is imprisoned by guilt and his inability to receive forgiveness and the fullness of love. There is something of Valjean in us all, find forgiveness hard to receive, and blind to the good in us.

Both Javert and Valjean ideas show some of distortions of Christianity, from medieval Christians who continually punished themselves for their sins as Valjean, to 21st century fundamentalists whose rigid moral teaching condemns others to eternal damnation. One final thought, does Valjean finally accept forgiveness and redemption as he dies? He is beckoned by the bishop and Fantine, to whom Valjean had been so kind, and as she died, promised to care for herdaughter.

As Lent progresses, and Holy Week draws near, I pray that in our internal and external conversations, and in all our Lenten activities, God will lead us deeper into the depths of his mercy, forgiveness and fresh starts, now and for eternity. This is a free, unearned gift he offers all, even those who have committed the most dreadful of crimes.

May God feed and grow you this Lent and fill you with Easter joy and life

James
Wednesday 28th February 201813:00Jelly Tots - Mums and Toddlers group
Every Wednesday - everyone welcome
<< January 2018