Thoughts from the Vicar
Sunday 17 March
Second Sunday of Lent
Next Sunday is Celebration Sunday and a number of exciting things will happen. Firstly, we all gather to worship together from across the parish as the other morning congregations are all invited to St Peter’s. Secondly, we have a guest preacher at the 10.00am service; on a day when we celebrate so many good things in our Church life we hear about what is happening in the world Church and the challenges our Christian brothers and sisters face in their walk with Jesus. Thirdly, it is our Church APCM (annual parochial church meeting) which takes place afterwards, following coffee.
The APCM is our opportunity to say thank you to individuals, to the whole community and to God. We celebrate how we are doing, how we are fulfilling our mission statement goal:
seeking to live out the love of God in all we do by
making Jesus known,
building Jesus’ kingdom,
bringing hope to a broken world.
We remind ourselves that the balance sheet of Church life is not about money; finances are just one of the resources needed to successfully fulfil what God calls us to do.
To enable parents to participate in the APCM there are activities for the children. There is a bring and share lunch ‐ not just to enable the peckish to participate and to save folks from running off to prepare Sunday lunch but because sharing food together was an important part of Jesus’ ministry and we follow his example.
There are legal things we have to do: elect PCC members; receive the annual report and accounts; receive the electoral roll. There are opportunities to ask questions about anything and share ideas. There are new things we will hear about.
You may wonder whether it is always the same people who do everything? No—every year a third of the PCC retire and Church Wardens serve for four years. Deanery Synod reps also have fixed terms so there is always an opportunity to get involved.
If you want to know more about any of the above talk to me or the lay chair of the PCC, Robert Boyd, or one of the Church Wardens (Sheila, Steve, Joyce or Ruth). We would all be delighted to tell you more.
I look forward to seeing everyone next week.
Sunday 10 March
First Sunday of Lent
A Lenten overview
Lent has started, the red wine locked away and the chocolates supplies run down. It was wonderful to see so many at the Ash Wednesday services and it is encouraging how these have grown compared with a decade ago. Ash Wednesday is just one of a series of special services and activities in Lent:
The Lenten course Everybody Welcome starts on Tuesday at 7.30pm. If you are planning to attend, and everyone is welcome, please fill in one of the sign‐up sheets so we can order enough members’ manuals and prepare the participant packs.
Bible Study has moved because of Ash Wednesday and will be at 7 Northmead this Wednesday at 8pm.
Lenten Lunches run on Wednesdays 12– 2pm in St Peters rooms throughout Lent.
The Church APCM is on 24 March. There is a special guest preacher at the 10am Holy Communion and the APCM is followed by a bring and share lunch.
We are trying to keep our regular worship pattern at 10am through Lent of 3 Holy Communion services and one Family Service each month with the service on the second Sunday being the Family Service. This impacts Palm Sunday and Mothering Sunday.
Mothering Sunday will be a Holy Communion service, there will still be distribution of flowers and familiar Mothering Sunday hymns and readings and Young Church will be in operation.
Palm Sunday falls on the second Sunday of the month. This year we will do something slightly different. We will still gather at the school at 10am where we will start the worship and there will still be a donkey, but instead of trying to sing as we walk we will re‐enact Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with an opportunity for all the children (and adults if they wish) to dress up as the biblical characters. The service will focus on the triumphal entry into Jerusalem rather than focussing on the Passion Narrative. At 6pm there will be Holy Communion drawing on the Anglican Liturgy for Palm Sunday; for those who love to see and hear the robed choir there will be introit, anthem and a motet to enjoy.
The Maundy Thursday service at 7.30pm when we give thanks for the Institution of Holy Communion will be at the Church of the Resurrection. If you need help with transport let me, Anne Stirling or the office know. As we journey liturgically back to that first century upper room, we hope that the intimate worship space at Core will be the perfect setting for this special service.
On Good Friday the services at St Peter’s are All Age Worship at 10am and Meditation on the Cross at noon.
Then we pause and wait ..... Have a Holy Lent
Sunday 24 February
The days are starting to grow longer and the nights shorter, the churchyard is carpeted with spring flowers and it won’t be long before the trees bud and blossom. Now is the time to prepare for a productive year in the new garden and plant some seeds to produce a harvest.
Seeds, plants and weeds, growing and harvest are a constant theme within Jesus’ teaching ‐ he often bases his parables and teaching around the everyday world of the first century farmer. He called fishermen and tax collectors to follow him and, in his childhood, would have seen Joseph working as a carpenter. A carpenter in those days would not have been handcrafting Chippendale furniture but undertaking a wide range of activities that involved working with wood. Jesus as the oldest may well have travelled around the local villages with Joseph helping to build houses, or sheep folds, as well as making farming tools and household items. Despite this, very few of Jesus’ parables are about building: he does not draw on the Prophet Amos with his famous plumb line and his most familiar story about the wise and foolish builders looks more like a disguised political comment on the failures of King Herod and his dynasty than a parable drawn out of his carpentry experience.
Perhaps Jesus chose his parables not because they resonated with his life and his experiences, but with the world of his listeners. Jesus’ incarnation ‐ Jesus coming into our world ‐ is not just a theological idea but is evidenced in everything Jesus said and did including his teaching.
If we were telling parables today about God’s plans and purposes, what might they be based around? Parables about aspiring performers, football teams, global warming, political splits ‐ all potential settings for fun and engaging stories with spiritual meaning that are more entertaining than stories about seeds and sheep. Entertainment is not the purpose of such storytelling the purpose would be to enable our hearers to understand and connect with the message of God’s saving love, the nature of God’s Kingdom and the transforming power of the Spirit.
This is what the Christian Church has sought to do over the last fifty years through scripture, with liturgy, with music, with styles of service‐ all recognising the need to change what we do to communicate the faith to a changed culture. Being incarnational involves going further, taking our faith beyond the doors of Church and proclaiming it in word, deed and narratives that a world can understand. That is our challenge if we want to produce a harvest.