From the Rector

Dear friends,

The seasons of the year, and the Church calendar within that, provide a great way to anchor our lives. 

We are now in Lent – a season of reflection and penitence.  For me, Lent this year will involve refocussing on the core of a priest’s work – worship (personal and public) and pastoral.  There is important business to do too, but, for this season at least, it is secondary.  I aim, too, to work on our parish calendar for the future so that we steer business meetings away from this short season.  It is so easily lost in the busyness of the rest of our lives and church should not add to that!

Lent is fundamentally about habits and discipline so that we might live better and prepare well for Easter.  This is the real reason for the tradition of giving something up.  The other side of the coin is to deliberately take something up.  This could be anything that is life affirming, but most particularly it will be prayer and spiritual reading.  We’re making a number of suggestions that you might like to try.  There is the Church of England’s ‘Live Lent’ initiative which you will find here this requires access to the internet.  There is a great collection of poems with commentary by Mark Oakley, Canon of St Paul’s, called ‘The Splash of Words’.  There is also an excellent book by Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields called “How Then Shall We Live?’ which looks at current issues from a Christian perspective.  Both of these are available from usual booksellers.  Finally, do sample our Lent course, ‘Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope’ which runs on Wednesdays until Holy Week both in the mornings and in the evenings. 

It’s always important to know that you can take time off from your spiritual discipline!  Sundays, for example, are traditionally feast days and we may make a break there if we wish; and, in particular Mothering Sunday, which this year is 11 March and which we mark as always with special services that include the distribution of flowers.

And so to Holy Week and Easter.  Can I encourage you to observe this as fully as possible too?  For quite a number, it coincides of course with holiday time, but you will find plenty going on wherever you are holidaying and, if you are lucky enough to be travelling out of the country, observances in other cultures are always enriching even if we don’t understand the words!  Here in Acton, we start Palm Sunday – 25th March – with our now customary procession from All Saints to St Mary’s where we assemble on The Mount for the Liturgy of the Palms.  It’s a fine service that begins with celebration and takes us into the growing darkness of Holy Week.  We should not be afraid of the dark.  Holy Week reminds us that this is not only part of human experience, but is very often where we find God.  We’ve a week full of services.  Drop into what you can; or experience the whole thing.

On 29th March, we begin the ‘Great Triduum’, the most holy and solemn three days of the Church’s year taking us through from Maundy Thursday’s moving celebration of the Eucharist with the washing of feet and stripping of the altars to Easter Sunday’s celebration of the Resurrection, via Good Friday with its focus on the Cross with the Procession of Witness and Outdoor Service on The Mount with the other Christians of Acton and our own Vigil in the afternoon.  This is what we are preparing for in the days ahead.

I wish you all, therefore, a happy and holy Lent.



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