Church News February 2015
Writing in January after a very cold spell and with strong winds, rain and snow forecast, it still seems very much like the “bleak mid-winter”, but we are now past the shortest day and the hours of daylight are steadily lengthening even if it is not yet very obvious. A good deal of mild weather has brought out the bulbs and the very earliest signs of spring are there to be seen if we look carefully. Primroses, snowdrops and hellebores are already starting to flower in sheltered corners.
The new spring growth supported by longer days and gradually warmer weather is always a great encouragement to all of us accompanied as it invariably is by increased bird activity in our gardens and in the hedgerows and fields. We are about to enter what often seems to be one of the most encouraging seasons of the year when the death and darkness of winter eventually gives way to the new life and increasing daylight of spring.
The Church’s calendar reflects similar patterns and February sees the start of Lent with Ash Wednesday falling on 18th February this year. We will mark the day with a special service of Holy Communion and ‘ashing’ at 7.30 pm in Halford Church to which everyone is most welcome.
Once Lent followed straight on from Epiphany but today it is associated more with Easter which is “the principal occasion for baptism and for the reconciliation of those who have been excluded from the Church’s fellowship for apostasy or serious faults”. It has historically been a time set aside for “self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study and preparation for Easter”[i]. It was also seen as a time for alms-giving. Ashes have traditionally been a sign of penitence and since the middle ages it has been the custom to use them to mark the sign of the cross on people on Ash Wednesday.
In this Benefice, Wednesdays in Lent have also been an opportunity to support Christian Aid and their important work overseas through our annual ‘Lent Lunches’ held in the different parishes on all five Wednesdays of Lent – it is also a very good opportunity to sample an excellent array of home-made soups! Details of the February and March Lent Lunches are:
25th Feb – The Pillertons (Village Hall)
4th March - Halford (Village Hall)
11th March - Newbold (Village Hall)
18th March - Alderminster (Village Hall)
25th March - Ettington (Church)
As we all long for the arrival of spring so we can also anticipate the festivities of Easter, early this year, on Sunday 5th April. As in the natural world there is darkness and death, so too spiritually we go through a period of penitence and self-examination reflecting on our own lives and those of Christ who died on the cross before breaking into the light and great joy of Easter and the resurrection. Please don’t look on Lent negatively! It is a time to be positive and embrace all that God has for us, a time for renewal as we approach Easter.
[i] Common Worship, Times and Seasons, Church House Publishing.