It is a sad thing that in ‘First World’ countries more people go to church over Christmas than at Easter.
The Three Day Festival that starts on the evening of Maundy Thursday and ends on Easter Morning is by far the most important of the year, as it commemorates the most important event in all time. It ranks way above the other two Feasts in it’s class: Epiphany and Pentecost. [Christmas, by comparison to these three, pales into insignificance.]
Christmas is popular because people can celebrate it – especially at the popular services like crib and carol services – and remain comfortably pagan. In the way it is generally presented, it does not challenge.
In contrast Epiphany presents us with the rich, wise and powerful worshipping a peasant child, and giving Him their greatest treasures. They challenge us to do the same.
Pentecost shows the disciples accepting the Gift of the Spirit, willing to be utterly changed by it, and risking everything to proclaim the Gospel. Again we are challenged to do likewise.
Going far beyond even that, our Lord’s gift of His Body and Blood, His willing acceptance of the Cross, and His Resurrection on Easter morn present us with Absolute Love: and we are asked to respond.
There can be no greater challenge; there can be no greater Joy if we do.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. The APCM will take place on Low Sunday following a joint service in the Parish Church at 10:00 a.m.
I apologise for having to delay the APCM. Apart from being ill, we had probably set too ambitious a date for everything to be ready.
The good thing is that this does give you a little more time to think and pray about who to nominate, and whether to stand yourself. There are still vacancies. And it would be wonderful to go a step further and have more nominations than vacancies!
Lent is upon us. This season of the Church was named in the Northern Hemi sphere and ‘Lent’ is a shortened form of the Old English word ‘lencten’, meaning “spring season”. In the Church as well as in the world it is a season for growth.
Abstinence aids growth. Which is why we give up something Monday to Saturday during Lent, and a little extra on Wednesdays and Fridays. And give the money saved to some charity.
If one is already down to the bone, or as an extra, spend a little more time helping others.
Taking more time over prayer and Bible reading is essential. This is time gained, not spent.
And some extra devotions. Coming to a weekday Mass if you don’t already. And Stations of the Cross. We do it simply, there is no need for any background, and it is very moving. The meditations are from a different perspective each week. [9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays at St Alban’s and/or 5:00 p.m. on Fridays at All Saints.]
The Church is not a club for those who think they are holy, but a community that nurtures those who wish to be. And Lent and Holy Week is when the most loving nurturing takes place. So make full use of it and enjoy it!
It may seem boring, but who is elected to our church councils and what they do is important to you.
Even more, it is important to God. We don’t just discuss buildings and finance. These may be important, but they are of secondary importance.
More importantly these councils decide what sort of services we have, and when we have them.
Of prime importance, these councils discuss and decide on how we reach out with the love of God to our community.
So who is on these councils is too important a matter to leave up to other people. You are important. In nominating people. Perhaps agreeing to stand. (Whoever you are, you will have something important to offer.) And voting.
If you want the best decisions made for the good of your local church and community – and for the good of the whole church, you need to be part of it.
I grew up when bumper stickers were popular. One of my favourites was:
Mary and Joseph knew that they weren’t. In the normal course of things parents desire a child and decide to have one. But this Child chose his father and his mother.
From all eternity God the Father had thought of this Child. It was through and for Him that the world was created; of Him that the prophets spoke; for Him that Mary had been attracted to virginity and Joseph to chastity, and they to marriage. A great light enveloped them both, and their gratitude was boundless.
To be chosen by God to be the parents of His Son – could there be a happiness more profound? To have been chosen by their own child, is there a more amazing joy for parents? Whereas for other people the child is the one who must be grateful to his parents for the life he has received from them, Mary and Joseph gave thanks to the Child for the life they had received from Him.
This Child was entrusted to them by God. Jesus ‘needed’ from his parents the protection of his childhood and his youth, and an education that would turn him into a man of a particular time, milieu, race, and religion. God had entrusted Him to Joseph and Mary. He who created, inspired, directed, and sanctified them for that very moment and mission, delegated his paternity to them. An unbelievable privilege.
Their willingness not to be normal – and to accept the huge responsibilities and inevitable suffering to which it would lead, led to our salvation. We owe them our gratitude. And for God’s sake,
Yours in Christ, Fr John
All Saints, Godshill: Sung Eucharist 11:00 a.m. every Sunday Holy Communion 9:30 a.m. every Thursday
St Alban’s, Ventnor: Sung Eucharist 9:30 a.m. every Sunday Holy Communion 9:30 a.m. every Wednesday
St Margaret’s Hall, Ventnor: Holy Communion 11:00 a.m. 8th & 22nd December
Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths
None in December
Special Services & Events:
Christmas (pt2) Epiphany: Sunday 6th January
Candlemass: Sunday 3rd February
We can ask Mary anything
Mary is a mother. We should all start by asking ourselves about our relationship with our own mother. Was that relationship life-giving and constructive, or hurtful?
Next, we should examine our relationship with Jesus. Because Mary brings us back to her Son, every time. She doesn’t keep anything for herself, and all the graces we obtain come from Jesus.
It does not matter what we ask her. If we ask from the heart, with the faith and love we should reserve for a mother so beautiful and so perfect, then we will receive graces, even if they don’t always match our initial request.
Why ask Mary instead of Jesus? Jesus is the primary object of our prayer, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. But “the heart has its reasons, which reason does not know” (French philosopher, Pascal). Our hearts naturally turn to Christ’s Mother and ours. To pray to Mary is perhaps a way to make our prayer more concrete, closer to the realities of our daily lives. It is believing in love and thus opening our hearts wider and wider, as sons and daughters.
Finally, turning to Mary in prayer is to contemplate Jesus in a different way, as Son and Brother.