Once again I would like to begin my letter by expressing my sincere thanks for the many cards, visits, phone calls and prayers I have received during this second stage of my treatment. Words cannot say just how much I have felt your love and support at this time…so thank you. I am pleased to say that despite a couple of frustrating set-backs, I am making steady progress following surgery, and I hope it won’t be too long before I am back amongst you. In the meantime I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken on extra tasks to ensure that the work of the fellowship continues.
This month we enter into the season of Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday, 5th March. Rather like Advent, Lent is a time of preparation, as we focus upon the time our Lord spent in the wilderness, and the events of Holy Week leading up to his death and resurrection. The time Jesus spent in the wilderness was a learning curve in which he experienced the closeness of God. He was put to the test as the Tempter tried to encourage Jesus to take the easy option. And as we know, throughout his testing time, Jesus remained firm and resolute throughout. It is a story of goodness overcoming evil, and shows that in our ‘wilderness experiences’ God is with us. God is still in control.
The term ‘wilderness experience’ is often applied to those occasions when we are faced with a seemingly insurmountable situation. Something which can make us feel inadequate, vulnerable or lost. As I was gathering my thoughts I couldn’t help but think of those people in the South who have been affected by the recent severe flooding. Witnessing the devastating power and effects of the waters, described as being of ‘Biblical proportions’ is absolutely terrifying, and no doubt feels like being in the wilderness.
Personally, it brings things closer to home because as most of you know, I grew up in Staines and several friends and family members are currently being affected by the flooding. Seeing the familiar scenes of the area in which I grew up covered by several feet of water is rather surreal.
Right now, people are despairing and cannot see what the future might hold. Sadly, there are always those who prey upon the vulnerable. There are stories of houses that have been vacated being targeted by looters. Equally though, it has been heart-warming to hear of the numbers of people from all over the Country who have willingly travelled to help bring relief to those affected. This is a modern day story of goodness overcoming evil. I am sure all our prayers are with those affected, that they might draw hope and encouragement. The lesson for us is that despite the chaos and turmoil that ensues, God is there with the people. And so often out of the struggle good can come, although at the time it can be hard to recognise
Returning to the Lenten theme, when we consider the sheer awfulness of the events leading up to Easter we cannot help but ask ‘how can anything good come out of this?’ And yet it is through that pain and struggle that Christian hope breaks through. Jesus’ self-giving opened up the way for us – what we call salvation. It is the immensity of the event that compels us to set time aside as we journey through Lent. Jesus was the exemplar of giving of himself for others. The significance of Lent is for us all to ponder his sacrifice; his willingness to see it through for our sakes. As someone once said, Lent is not so much about giving things up but rather taking things on. Not a negative but a positive.
Lent is the time of newness of life and learning to walk in the presence of our eternal God. Lent is a time for change: a change of direction, a change of awareness, a change of attitude and a change of heart. A positive change of heart.
Your friend and Minister,
|DATES FOR YOUR DIARY|
|1st March||8.30am||Elders Training||Charlestown|
|1st March||7.30pm||Cabaret Evening||Charlestown|
|5th March||7.30pm||Hurst Nook Fellowship||Hurst Nook|
|5th March||11.30am||Lent Lunch||Charlestown|
|11th March||7.30pm||HN Committee Meeting||Hurst Nook|
|11th March||7.45pm||Lent Bible Study||Charlestown|
|12th March||11am||Midweek Communion Service||Albion|
|16th March||After Worship||Charlestown AGM||Charlestown|
|22nd March||10am -4pm||Quiet Day||Loyola Hall|
|23rd March||After Worship||Albion AGM||Albion|
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MIDWEEK SERVICE AT ALBION
The next mid-week Communion Service is on Wednesday 12th March at 11am in the Choir Vestry.
BIBLE STUDY GROUP
The Lent study group will meet at 7.45pm at Charlestown on 11th March for 5 weekly sessions, using the Churches Together resource ‘Parables and Possessions.’ All are welcome to come and join the group as part of our Lenten preparations.
Saturday 1st March 8.30am – 12 Noon
LENT QUIET DAY
The Lent Quiet Day will be held at Loyola Hall on Saturday 22nd March at Loyola Hall from10am till 4pm. This will be the last time at Loyola Hall as they are closing at Easter. I am sure for those who have attended in the past it will remain a ‘special place.’ Why not come along and share some time together in a day of peace and quiet reflection? The cost is £21 which includes a substantial lunch. Please let Alan or Barbara know if you wish to attend. Transport will be provided.
Once again we will be serving soup lunches at Charlestown during lent every Wednesday from 5th March for 5 weeks 11am – 1pm. All proceeds to Christian Aid.
Conducted by the Revd. Anthea Wickens
8th Feb Reece Anthony SCUDDER and
Conducted by the Revd. Barbara Plenderleith
3rd February at Charlestown and Dukinfield Cemetery
William (Bill) Henry JEWITT (88 years)
COMMITMENT FOR LIFE PRAYER PARTNERS
We pray for:
- Campaigners around the world as they continue the fight against injustice in economic systems that keeps money hidden – and so keeps people in poverty by denying developing countries the revenue they need to invest in essential services like schools and hospitals; pray for the people of Guatemala, that has one of the worst tax systems in the world where some families have just 2.5pence a day to spend on food.
- Wisdom for governments and those in authority who promise to tackle tax dodging; pray that developing countries will be included in these high-level conversations and that their words are turned into action.
- A change in attitude within accountancy firms and multi-national corporations who promote and practice tax dodging in developing countries; pray that paying taxes would be seen as a positive act that transforms societies and helps governments become more transparent.
Addresses: Albion URC, Stamford Street East, Ashton-under-Lyne Tel. 0161-343 7054
Charlestown URC, Alexandra Rd., Ashton-under-Lyne
Hurst Nook URC, Nook Lane, Ashton-under-Lyne
Albion Website: www.albionurc.org.uk