As Christmas and Epiphany fades into the memory once again, February brings us into the penitential season of Lent, with the glory of Easter beckoning on the horizon. However tempting it is to look ahead to lighter and longer days, warmer weather and the new life of spring, we must remember that in order to get there, we have to journey through the darker days of winter.
There is nothing gloomy about this though, each year we are offered the chance to simplify, to put down, and strip back the things which clutter our daily lives. We can turn once again to patterns of prayer, discipline and searching. I was reminded recently that although it is very important for parish churches to be organised well, if we fail to focus on our first love, we will always fall short in our mission and ministry. Our first love, of course, is Jesus Christ and Lent presents us with the opportunity to journey with Him to the cross, into the grave and out into the joy of the resurrection life. We can experience anew the truth that God’s love for each of us is so great, that He would descend into our world and our lives, so that we could ascend to His life and share in His glory. So rather than simply seeing Lent as a time to give up chocolate or wine (and these are good things to do), give yourself the space to rediscover your love for Jesus.
Our Year of Prayer is now underway, and we are journeying together – seeking God and asking Him to guide our parish in a new direction. At the January prayer event, everyone was given a luggage tag and asked to write where they had come FROM spiritually, where they would like to see the parish go TO in the next year and what ROUTE they might take to reach the destination. If you didn’t attend the event, please do feel free to collect a tag from the back of church and fill one in yourself. The tags will be on display in St Peter’s throughout Lent.
The February prayer event takes place on Saturday 24th at St Peter’s from 8am til 10am. We will be meeting for a hot breakfast before praying together in small groups. All ages are welcome, and the breakfast is free! Please do come along.
If you haven’t signed up for Alpha yet, there is still time. The 8 week course takes place every Tuesday evening in February and March at St Peter’s beginning at 7.30pm. Alpha is a course which explores the Christian faith, providing a safe space to ask questions and discuss the big questions amongst friends. Each session starts with a sit down hot meal and is followed by a talk (a different theme each week) and then small group discussions on what you have heard. Don’t worry if you can’t get to every session, come to the ones you can. Contact me for more details.
Other dates for Lent:
Ash Wednesday Eucharist: 9.30am at St Peter’s or 8pm at All Saints. All welcome for Holy Communion with the Imposition of Ashes at either service.
Stations of the Cross led by Chris Thomas and Fr Tony. Join them each week from Wednesday 21st Feb for prayer and reflections on Christ’s Passion. 7.30pm at St Peter’s.
Holy Week: Maundy Thursday, Passover Seder Meal and Holy Communion, from 6.30pm at St Peter’s. Join us as we remember the Last Supper with a Jewish Seder Meal followed by Holy Communion and Vigil.
Good Friday Walk of Witness: Churches Together in Hutton and Shenfield will be walking from Hutton Free Church to Shenfield Library from 9.30am. I will be preaching in Shenfield as we gather together for Good Friday worship.
Easter Saturday: Crafty Kids: Easter crafts, worship, music and food. Suitable for the whole family, all welcome. 12.30pm-3pm at St Peter’s.
More details to follow.
Keep up to date with parish life at www.huttonparish.com or on the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/huttonparish.
I hope your Lenten journey is meaningful and I will be praying that we might all grow closer to Jesus over the next two months. Let’s rediscover His great love for us once more.
I hope to see you at some of the Lent events too.
With every blessing,
Fr Andy +