Are you good at making decisions? Depending on what the decision is, it might take next to no time to decide, or it might take a bit longer, and require a bit more thought. Perhaps one decision that you’ve been considering recently is “what am I going to do for Lent?”

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (6th March), starting six weeks of anticipation and preparation for Easter. Sometimes people choose to give something up for Lent – chocolate, tea or coffee, alcohol, or whatever it might be. Others choose to take something up – reducing consumption of plastic or volunteering somewhere new, making an extra effort to pray or read the Bible. Once again, so many options. Why have people marked Lent in this way for so many generations?

It’s not about making ourselves feel miserable or trying to do Lent “better” than anyone else, but perhaps it’s more about stepping out of normal life for a little while. By giving up something that is part of our everyday or taking up something that might stretch us out of our comfort zone a bit, life is lived differently and we might start to learn more about what our priorities are or what they should be. Perhaps we will have space to consider the difference between what we want and what we need. Maybe it will be something completely different and we will be totally surprised at the journey of Lent this year.

No matter what we decide about how we’re going to mark Lent or where the journey takes us this year, perhaps we could ask God to help us make space for what he has for us this Lent, both as a whole community and as individuals?

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At the beginning of February, I will take down the last of the Christmas decorations. It’s not because I’m forgetful, but I do use them to remind myself that the celebration of Christmas lasts for 40 days, even if the chocolates don’t. Lent and Easter aren’t too far away, but before we get there, the next few weeks bring us to something the Church calls ‘Ordinary Time’. ‘Ordinary’ is a bit of an unpopular word – sometimes ordinary things are thought to be plain or unexciting. We often want things to be extraordinary or special instead, but we need the ordinary as well.
Ordinary time is ordered or measured time. It is time to live in the present moment, time that is counted and marked not to wish it away or count it down but to savour and enjoy it. Ordinary time celebrates that God is involved in the everyday as well as the extraordinary. Ordinary time makes special times like Christmas or Easter more special. Living for God week-by-week on ordinary days like Monday to Saturday mean that we will approach Sundays differently when we gather together.

Green Stole
The colour of Ordinary Time is green – the colour of growth. Living for God in the everyday helps us to become measured people - people who celebrate the good, grieve the bad, and notice where God is to be found in the ordinary.

Rev. Charles Higgins

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Do you like mysteries? Famous detectives unravelling a complicated plot, a group of police tracking down a villain at all costs. Or perhaps you like grappling with a difficult riddle or working to complete a puzzle? Mysteries, real or imagined enthral and intrigue so many. What is a mystery? Some of these things suggest it’s a complicated truth that’s to be grappled with and enjoyed. It’s something with depth that captures us. Maybe we think of mysteries as too complicated to bother with. The Bible uses the word mystery to mean ‘a truth that can only be revealed by God’.

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During January the Church celebrates the feast and season of Epiphany. Epiphany means “appearance”. We celebrate Jesus appearing on Earth and that in him God reveals a mystery – he shows us who he is in Jesus. In mystery stories, the central character often has an epiphany as well – a sudden idea that turns the whole case around. We might call it a “light bulb moment”. I wonder if any lightbulb moments stand out in your memory? Over the weeks of Epiphany, we’ll explore some moments where Jesus helped people to realise more of who God is – at his baptism, when he turned water into wine and when he began his ministry.lightbulb moment

This year I have been grateful for a lightbulb moment about those wise men that came to visit the infant Jesus and bring him gifts. I had imagined that meeting Jesus brought a great journey of many miles to an end. In one way it did, but really it was the beginning of something that would change the rest of their lives and beyond. When we meet Jesus, when we have those lightbulb moments and realise more about him, that is just the start of a life-changing journey. A very happy new year to you all - let’s look forward to sharing the journey together!

Rev. Charles Higgins

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The wonder of Christmas has always been there,

Childhood memories, still fresh in my mind.

Church bells rang out through the cold frosty air,

Smoke from chimneys, spiralled, aligned.

 

I see dad in the kitchen, our breakfast to cook,

Mum’s there too, Festive food to prepare.

Baubles on the tree, hang hook by hook,

Presents so tempting, with wrapping to tear.

 

At home, my family, the warmth and the love,

Still fills my heart with such thankfulness

Mum and dad, still close, but now above,

I like to think they are proud of my success.

 

But those memories of many a Christmas past,

Will forever be with me, as many a day I recall,

Family tales from  mum and gran, life wasn’t fast,

Time was slow, but how I loved them telling all.

 

Grandad and uncle, surplices and robes freshly pressed

 To sing in the choir, Bass and Tenor, so gran relates,

Christmas joy it was for them, their voices truly blessed.

I wonder if they  know,  I followed through their gates.

 

The miracle that is Christmas, will always be there,

The Babe, to bring light and love to our world,

With thanks to all those that have gone before

I cherish those memories my family unfurled.

 

Now I have been blessed with grandsons, all three.

Excitement and wonder, for them carries on,

Amidst the bustle, silently, a prayer from me,

To give thanks for one, my miracle, for all to see.

 

Ginny

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I am privileged to join you as your new vicar and extremely thankful for the warm welcome that Emma and I have received since we moved to Bulkington. I’m excited for all that lies ahead for the communities of Bulkington and Burton Hastings and in my first week and a bit, I’ve had the opportunity to do lots of different things and meet lots of people. Please come and say hello!

There is a sense of anticipation building for our Christmas celebrations. We’ve already begun to welcome people for carol services and advent celebrations and we can look forward to lots more festivities. Launching into all the activities of Christmas certainly keeps a new vicar out of mischief!

Amidst the preparations for Christmas, as part of our preparation, we are invited to share in the wonderful season of Advent - four weeks that begin a new Church year. It’s in these days that God calls us to wait.

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‘That’s ages away!” I wonder if you’ve ever heard those words from a young person you know when told they have to wait for something? Perhaps you have said or thought it recently! Often we’re not very good at waiting for things, and most of the time we don’t have to. So many things can come to us almost instantly.

But waiting is so important. It helps us to be more fully in the present moment, appreciating all that is good, and supporting one another when times are tough. God asks us to wait because he is more interested in the person we are gradually becoming, than what we are doing. Amongst the busyness of December, could you find a moment or two to be still, to be thankful? It will make such a difference as we look forward to celebrating that Jesus came to be with us at Christmas and has been with us ever since! Happy Advent to you all!

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 This Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent is known as ‘stir up Sunday’ taken from the words at the beginning of the collect for the day found in the Book of Common Prayer. 

‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people’
According to tradition Victorian families would gather on this Sunday to make and stir up their Christmas puddings, which as all good cooks know should be made in advance of the big day and then heated up for several hours on Christmas Morning ready to be served after the main course having had brandy poured over it and set fire to.
Silver six pences were put into the puddings to bring good luck and each member of the family stirred it whilst making a wish for the coming year.
I’ve been known to make a pudding and a Christmas Cake but it’s a very rare occasion now.
The Victorians had a point get the preparations underway early to gain more time later on

stirup
This Sunday is also celebrated as Christ the King.
Instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925
He said it was to remind catholic people of their allegiance to Christ, coming just after the end of the 1st world war, it was to demonstrate that true lasting peace can only be found in Christ Jesus, the prince of peace who sits at the right hand of God, king of kings, lord of lords.
Most Anglican communities also celebrate this feast day on the last Sunday before Advent.

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Perhaps we should take time this weekend to reflect as we stir up our Christmas puddings and make a wish for lasting world peace as we too remember the end of the 1st world war a hundred years ago.
Perhaps we should pray that our wills be stirred up enough to make a difference in our world as we look forward to our coming journey through Advent.

Sue Turner

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