Dear Friends,

As this magazine goes to print we will have entered the season of Lent. It’s a season in which we recall the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ as He gave his life for us. It’s a season in which we are invited in the service from our prayer book to observe these 40 days by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting and self-denial and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.

One of the fundamental challenges of this invitation is to read God’s Word for ourselves regularly. Most of us haven’t had the luxury of theological studies and we feel perhaps overwhelmed at where to start. It all seems so complicated and hard to understand. We don’t know the history or the context of many of the books in the Bible. We recognise there are different genres of literature on display, but how can we interpret or understand what’s going on? On the first 5 Thursdays of Lent, we are hoping to run a series of 5 sessions to explore this central Christian discipline of reading the Bible. The Lectio course introduces us to a method of opening ourselves up to Hearing God’s Voice as we read and meditate on the scriptures.

The facilitator, Pete Greig will share some teaching and inspiration and interview someone who has made Bible reading and meditation a central part of their life with God. There will be some materials to take away and reflect upon in the week ahead. Much of the material is based on a book called How to Hear God: A Simple Guide for Normal People written by Pete Greig. I hope to use it as my own Lenten book this year and it might be useful for those who want to explore the topic this Lent in some more depth.

The weekly teaching on this topic will be framed in the context of a Late Evening office on Thursday evenings at 7.30pm beginning on Thursday 23rd February. During the season of Lent our prayers over Zoom will be suspended and we hope to be able to livestream these sessions from church as an alternative. I loved the simple heartfelt desire behind the course to equip us as a church to grow in prayer, discern God’s voice and fall in love with the Bible. We hope you will be able to come and really benefit from the series during Lent.

There will also be a series of Holy Week services beginning on Monday 3rd April each evening at 7.30pm from Monday to Friday. Our Curate, Andy will be teaching us all about the events in the last week of Jesus’s earthly life and their significance for us today as we follow the special liturgies for this season. As this magazine goes to print, the terrible news has reached us about the devastating earthquakes and significant aftershocks which have struck Turkey and Syria. We know that many lives have been lost in this terrible disaster and it’s estimated that 23 million people in both countries will have been impacted. Words fail us at a time of such incomprehensible suffering but we do ask people to pray for the situation. It’s hard to know what to pray when we feel overwhelmed by the scale of the suffering and the pain.

Can I suggest we pray for the people affected – asking for God’s comfort for those suddenly grieving the loss of loved ones, those who have lost homes, those injured and scared. Can we pray for the peacemakers – for resilience and resources for NGOs, frontline workers, search and rescue teams etc. Can we pray for politicians – for wisdom to co-operate and communicate well, making good and speedy decisions for those worst afflicted. Can we pray for pastors – for strength as they process their own trauma whilst also seeking to bind up broken hearts, caring for the poor, arranging funerals and trying to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of such devastation. Sometimes the only thing we have to offer are our feeble prayers and we trust God hears and will respond to the cries of our heart.

On Sunday 26th February we hope to have a Lenten lunch of soup and bread after the 11am service. Any donations received will be go to the relief of those affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
Wishing you and your families a blessed Lent and thank you for your prayers.

With very best wishes,

Jonathan Pierce (Rector)

Telephone 02890 793822