At a recent meeting of our Area Deanery which is the cluster of parishes in this area, our inspirational speaker was Richard Ryan, the proprietor of The Book Well, a Christian book shop located on the Belmont Road. It’s a shop I love to do business in as Richard and his small team are so helpful and knowledgeable. In church we sometimes use the shop for Sunday School prizes, for Confirmation Class resources, for Life Group study materials and a book I often work through with couples who decide to get married in church.
Although it has a front like any other shop or business, The Book Well views its activities as a ministry. They are there to help people like you and me to go deeper in the Christian life so if you are looking for a Bible, some resources to help you read it or some inspiring devotional reading or Christian music, it’s a great place to pop into for a visit.
Richard used this particular opportunity to make us as clergy aware of the importance of reading some books during the season of Lent. There is quite a range of books published each year to help Christian believers or those who are searching spiritually to journey with Jesus towards the Cross and understand its significance and the importance of the resurrection. Lent books are usually written in such a way that there are 3-4 pages to read each day as you travel through the season.
In many Church of Ireland parishes, including our own, we often have the tradition of midweek services and during Holy Week itself there will be services from Monday to Friday in the evening time. All of this helps to instil within us a sense that something important is happening at this time of year. Maybe we take on a few disciplines to make more space for God in our lives – we perhaps give up sweets and chocolate or alcohol, we take a break from social media or reduce our television watching. Maybe we take on a practice like some extra reading or commit ourselves to weekly Holy Communion or church attendance.
Perhaps it is an occupational hazard but I’m conscious this Lent that I have too many books. I love them but there is a need to declutter and so my aspiration is to get rid of one every day for 40 days and a local charity shop will hopefully benefit from the offloading. It is only the tip of the iceberg and in all probability more than 40 could easily go!!
We look forward this year during our Lenten services to exploring a Biblical Book I have never preached through before – the book of the prophet Haggai. I was drawn to Haggai in my devotions recently and as I read this little book I discovered it was all about a man who undertook a building project for God and for His glory in rebuilding the temple.
My lovely wife would probably suggest it would be wise to keep me as far away from building projects as possible given my abysmal record on the DIY front, but this is a time when we as a church are looking at a vitally important building project. It is about making our church more accessible and welcoming to visitors and ensuring the safety of those who come to worship with us. As with any building project the key is in the preparations and there are all sorts of procedures we have to embark upon to seek the necessary permissions from the Diocese, the central church, the planning authorities and other relevant bodies and these things don’t happen quickly. We have been working with a firm of ecclesiastical architects this year and as soon as the final plans are available we hope to have the opportunity to share them with the congregation. In the meantime I hope you will be able to join us on Thursday evenings during Lent at 7.30pm as we work our way through this little Book which I believe has much to say to us which is relevant at this time.
The first Lenten service will be on Thursday 27th February at 7.30pm and our Lenten services each week will last for approximately 30 minutes.
We look forward to welcoming as our speaker during Holy Week the Reverend Adrian Green. Adrian is the Rector of the neighbouring parish of Mount Merrion and speaks sometimes at our Tuesday night Healing Services.
He’s a very gifted communicator and will be with us on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night of Holy Week. He’s looking at some words from a popular hymn, “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven” as he considers Christ and the cross and the themes of being ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven.
Please do avail of these important opportunities to go a little deeper in your spiritual life and maybe invite a friend or neighbour who might be searching for faith in these times of challenging uncertainty. If you do fancy some spiritual reading for Lent why not pop into The Book Well at 27 Belmont Road, or explore the great selection of Lenten books online at www.bookwell.co.uk or telephone Richard on 07581143596 for some guidance on a good book for Lent.
We would also ask for your prayers for our Bishop, Bishop David McClay in his demanding new role and our former Curate Canon Ken Higgins who was recently appointed Archdeacon of Down.
We wish everyone a blessed and God filled Lent.
With very best wishes.
Jonathan Pierce (Rector)
Telephone 02890 793822