We will be recording our Candlelight Carols service at Abbey URC and broadcasting it over our church website at 6.30pm on Sunday, 20 December. If you are unable to access it over the internet, we hope to be able to produce CDs or DVDs of this service. If you would…
Weekly social time on Wednesdays via Zoom (click Kettle On to join, or meeting ID: 970 815 266, passcode: 079294)
You can read this month's magazine by clicking on Magazine
This week's news sheet is available by clicking on News
You may find this list of opportunities to access services/Christian content on radio/TV and on-line helpful: the Daily Service at 9.45 on Radio 4 long-wave The Sunday Service on Radio 4 at 8.10am Songs of Praise Sunday 1.15pm ish on BBC1 Choral Evensong Sunday Radio 3 at 3pm and repeated on Wednesday Radio 3 at 3.30pm Tim Daykin Radio Solent Sunday 6-9am for worship songs, interesting information and a feeling of connectedness
This evening (17 February) we mark the beginning of Lent with our Zoom Ash Wednesday service (usual Sunday morning service log-in). Here we will have the opportunity, either physically or in our imagination, to place an ash cross on our forehead or palms of our hands. Where will you get your ash from if you choose to take part in this way? Traditionally churches use the charred remains of palm crosses from the Palm Sunday service of the year before, but any ash will do – please take care with whatever you burn!
On Ash Wednesday, Christians of many traditions begin our journeying through Lent, a time of repentance in preparation for our celebration of new life at Easter. Making the mark of ash reminds us that the first human being was created by God from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), so we owe God a debt of gratitude for our life and all the blessings we receive from God throughout our lives.
In this spirit of gratitude to God, Lent gives all Christians the chance to examine their lives and to ‘turn back to God’ (repent) and to God’s ways. In some Christian traditions Lenten repentance also includes fasting, ‘giving up’ luxury foods and drink.
I always remember an episode of one of my favourite TV sit-coms, The Vicar of Dibley, where we find Revd Geraldine in a real tizzy! Lent is beginning and she has cupboards full of her favourite chocolate bars – how will she eat them all before she gives up chocolate for Lent! Well, I seem to remember that she gives it a good go, but I’m not sure if she succeeds or not!
But Lent is not so much about giving things up that we return to again, once Lent is over. It is about self-examination as I say, and about ‘giving up’ those things that get in the way of our relationship with God, and in the way of our relationship with our fellow human beings - and it is about giving up those things for good! Ultimately it is about restoring our relationship of Christian love and compassion, having given our lives a good and thorough ‘spring clean’!
Instead of giving things up, many people start something new over Lent – something positive and which benefits their Christian life spiritually, or benefits other people in need.
To benefit our spiritual lives over Lent we can share in our Lent Course, beginning on 28 February on Zoom, Sunday evenings 6.30 to 7.30. If you would like to take part, either on Zoom or in your own time at home if you don’t have access to the internet, please let Revd Mike know and he will send you a course booklet (further details in the March magazine).
Thinking about being of practical service to other people, we may like to give to a charity to support those in need. One example is ‘Amber’, which Lead Chaplain Nicky Porter spoke about at our Sunday service last week, and their work with vulnerable and exploited women of Southampton. As requested, she sent me an email (see overleaf), with details of how you can make direct transfer of donations. You can also donate through our Abbey URC account, using the reference ‘Amber’ or by cash through the usual letterboxes!
One thing we can all do over Lent is to pray – for ourselves, our loved-ones, our local communities, especially as we look forward to the new life that the Risen Jesus brings!
Also, let Mike know if you have particular prayer requests (for yourself or others) in these challenging and uncertain times and If you would like to contribute a prayer, poem or reflection for the weekly Sunday service outline.