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The man setting his face towards Jerusalem and the cross

Dear Friends

I hope you had a good Christmas and New Year, it seems a while ago now. Certainly, we had some good acts of worship, so many thanks to all those who were involved all the effort was well worth it.

Our focus now moves from the babe in the manger to the man setting his face towards Jerusalem and the cross. Lent begins in the second week of February and we shall share with our circuit an Ash Wednesday service in the evening at Pickering On Saturday 17th February we have a circuit “Day of Turning to God”, with hourly readings and reflections. We are travelling around the circuit:

9.00 -Noon at Helmsley

Noon-3.00 at Kirbymoorside

3.00-6.00 pm at Pickering

6.00-9.00 pm at Trinity, Norton

We shall worship with St Michael’s on Palm Sunday and we will have shared services in Holy Week, then our Churches Together in Southern Ryedale Good Friday Gathering in the market place. These Church events remind us of our commitment to others outside of our own Church and Circuit, but who are all part of the wider Body of Christ.

In the early church Lent was a time for preparation for baptism on Easter Sunday.  Later this time of preparation became a time of penitence for all Christians. Self-denial is a feature of this penitence and renewed commitment. Perhaps this year you may like to commit yourself to regular prayer or Bible study, either in a group or alone; or attend a Christian event that might make you uncomfortable, not your style or tradition; or simply seek to raise your awareness of God’s presence in your life and in the world. Fasting is a way of becoming aware God’s presence. The nagging demands of fasting are used to draw the mind back to God. Instead of thinking of the body’s demands these are used to remind the person fasting of the presence of God.

During Lent Sunday’s are feast days. There has always been a balance between fast and feast in Christian tradition. The discipline of fasting echoes the discipline of living open honest Christian lives in a world with so many pressures and temptations to compromise or renounce our commitment to God for comfort or gain. These pressures to compromise are found in Jesus’s temptations in the wilderness, he walks beside us and knows our frailty. Our weakness is not the end of the Christian story, after the suffering of the cross God raises Jesus and so a celebration is in order. The foretaste of this is found in the Last Supper, in which we participate at Holy Communion. This is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, the heavenly feast, for all people. So though we fast, we know there is a feast to come; though we suffer and die we know that resurrection is to come. This is the message of Easter, may Lent prepare us for it.

Every blessing,