Things have moved on since the last entry here spoke about ‘autumn’.
We didn’t even put up anything on this page about what we were doing at Christmas (sorry!) but we did share a final Christmas thought at our service at the end of January to mark the baby Jesus being brought to the Jerusalem Temple forty days after his birth. The thought comes from John Bell of the Iona Community.
Very little of this is actually about small children, he says. From the beginning of the story (when Elizabeth is told she will be the mother of John the Baptist despite the fact that she is beyond child-bearing age) to Jesus being brought to the Temple (when Anna, who we are told is in her eighties, praises God and speaks about Jesus) it is most usually older people who are given new hope.
So John Bell says that he is never happy when a congregation tells him that they do not see much future as it now consists mainly of elderly people. Jesus coming among us with new possibilities we don’t expect has always been the message – particularly where there are faithful older people praying.
So, we look forward into Lent. The feast of Jesus’ ‘Presentation in the Temple’ is sometimes characterised as the moment we turn from facing the crib to facing the cross – Simeon, the other prophet in the Temple, took the child in his arms but also spoke of the pain which Mary would have to endure in the future.
Most members of our congregations will want to take one or more very specific steps during Lent to come closer to being the people God wants us to be. We expect a large congregation at St James for the Ash Wednesday Reflection and Communion at 9.30 a.m. on 14th February.
Every Wednesday beginning that day (14th February) there will be a series of Lent gatherings to ask as churches exploring mission ‘What does God ask of us?’ (10.15 am to 11.30 am at St James, Cross Roads, repeated 7.30 p.m. to 8.45 pm at St Michael’s, Haworth or perhaps another venue near there); this repeats the style of study group which met for six weeks in October and November.
Each Sunday beginning 18th February at 6.00 pm at West Lane Baptist Church there will be a series of episodes of Broken (last year’s TV series about a Catholic priest in a northern town) and a discussion to which all are invited as well.
And, among many possible practical lifestyle steps, watch out for ways to highlight Fair Trade Fortnight Monday 26th February – Sunday 11th March especially at St James’, Cross Roads (a registered ‘Fair Trade Church’) and in Haworth (the world’s first registered ‘Fair Trade Village’).