Church News February 2014
Despite needing to write this fairly soon after Christmas in order to meet with editorial deadlines, the mild autumn and early winter weather mean that there are already signs of spring to be seen. In the last few weeks we have passed the shortest day and begun to see the tips of snowdrops and daffodils popping up out of the ground. We also noticed a surprisingly early hedge full of catkins on Boxing Day whilst there are a few aconites out in a sheltered corner of the garden. There may be a good bit more of winter to come but there are also some very welcome signs that spring is on its way.
Easter is late this year – Sunday 20 April. This means that Lent does not begin until 5th March, Ash Wednesday, by which time there should be even more evidence that spring is on its way. The interval between the Christmas/New Year celebrations and spring/Easter can seem a very long drawn out one with its cold, wet and windy weather, but it can be a valuable time too depending on our attitude towards it.
The tale of two shoe salesman despatched to a distant country where no one wore shoes sums up how we can approach the next few months. One salesman stuck it for a few miserable months before contacting the company to tell them that no one wore shoes and he should be permitted to return home. His replacement arrived eventually and within days had contacted the company with the message “no-one has shoes here, please send more, soonest”.
Winter can be seen as a time to hibernate or it can be seen as an opportunity to press on with many things we never seem to get around to in the summer months. For me reading is one of those tasks that I seldom ever indulge in other than what is required for preparing sermons! At least some of the Gospel readings for February are from the early part of Matthew’s Gospel (Chapters 5 and 6) that focusses on the Sermon on the Mount. They cover some very practical issues from how to be “salt and light” (make a difference as Christians in our communities) to how we can avoid needless worry – something most of us spend too much time doing with no good results!
You may like to try a bit of extra reading over the next few months of dark evenings. You might also like to try joining one of our house groups where the readings can be discussed along with a host of other matters too in a fairly informal and relaxed way (Cath, Ali or John would be happy to tell you about a group near you).
Whatever you decide to do over the coming weeks please try and remain positive and remember that spring, new life and Easter are not that far away. Those little spikes appearing down the garden and in the hedgerows are a reminder of that!