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Rector's View - March 2011

Dear friends,

This year Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, falls on 9th March. The best way to begin Lent is to attend the Celebration of the Eucharist at All Saints', Wickhambrook at 7.00pm on that day. There will be Imposition of Ashes at the Eucharist, for those who wish to receive it.

Many years ago, when people had committed serious sins, and had therefore been excommunicated, they would wear their simplest clothes and scatter ashes on their heads as a sign that they were truly sorry. We still sometimes say that someone is 'wearing sackcloth and ashes'.

The service on Ash Wednesday is still conducted in much the same way as it was a thousand years ago. The priest dips his thumb in ashes, produced by burning some of last year's Palm Crosses, and makes the mark of a cross on people's foreheads, saying to each person: "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ." If this all sounds very gloomy it is because human sinfulness and the consequences of sin are depressing. Therefore, Lent is a time for sorrow and self-denial, but with a confidence in the forgiveness of God, which is limitless and freely given to those who ask for it in good faith.

Some people still make Lent a time to give up something they enjoy, but many now make a resolution to do something positive and constructive during this period - 'taking up', rather than 'giving up.' This might be setting aside time each day to read from the bible and/or from a Christian book - there are many Lent books for sale in Christian bookshops. It may be visiting someone who is lonely; attending a mid-week Eucharist, or setting aside extra time for prayer and meditation. There are many possibilities, as long as what we choose to do helps us to grow in love for God and for other people. Please think and pray about how you will observe Lent for the love of God.

Lent Course

Our Lent Course this year is entitled: "Rich Inheritance - Jesus' legacy of love" We shall meet on Mondays 14th, 21st, and 28th March and on Mondays 4th and 11th April at 7.30pm in the Benefice Hall. Everyone is very welcome.

Jesus didn't write a will. He left no written instructions. He didn't seem to have a plan. At the end, as he hung dying on the cross, almost all of his followers had abandoned him. By most worldly estimates his ministry was a failure. Nevertheless, Jesus' message of reconciliation with God lived on. It is the central message of the Bible. With this good news his disciples changed the world. How did they do it? What else did Jesus leave behind his physical presence - what is his 'legacy of love?' This course addresses these questions.

The course booklet, written by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, includes questions aimed at provoking wide-ranging discussion.

The participants on the course CD are RC Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, Writer and lecturer in Biblical studies, Paula Gooder, and author and public theologian, Jim Wallis. Dr David Hope introduces the course and Methodist minister Inderjit Bhogal provides the Closing Reflection at the end of each session.

There will also be the opportunity to chat informally over tea or coffee. Please consider joining us, if you are able to.

With every blessing.

Stephen

Rev'd Stephen Abbott

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Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011