The 40 days of Lent correspond with Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. Where Jesus, God in human form, is tested. Why? Perhaps so he can look at each one of us who struggles with sin, addiction, overwork, the inability to say ‘no’, and say ‘yeah it’s tough’!
Throughout Jesus’ life he met intimately with those who were struggling and publicly identifies with them saying ‘whatever you do for the one who struggles, you do it for me’. There is no judgement, no commendation but rather a touching, intimate connection one on one, and in so doing, Jesus reveals their infinite dignity, before the face of God.
Can you imagine, that even when you don’t feel able, worthy enough to look up at God, God is already sitting with you.
As we reflect this Lent on what it is in our lives we might need to amend, get help or support, know that we don’t do it alone. We have the very one who created us rooting for us and thankfully they have a whole army of angels behind them!
In these 40 days, may you find stillness, may you find healing, may you find God.
Explore God in Lent
We will be running a Lent Course starting Sunday 22 March at 7pm in The Rectory and Monday 23 March at 10am at Clare Farm in Dullingham. All welcome.
Considering Baptism or Confirmation?
Baptism: Open to all, any age, no entry requirements
Confirmation: Open to those (aged 11–111) interested in exploring God and faith
To discuss either of the above do contact me, I would be delighted to hear from you. Revd Nikki firstname.lastname@example.org text 07738 266057
I don’t know if anyone else feels special significance in beginning a new decade? Maybe because I am a zero baby and counting the years in tens is easy, or turning 50 next week has made be rather contemplative! I spoke this week of the Magi journeying to the now child Jesus. They set off not quite knowing where the star would guide them, but acutely aware this star was life changing and held such special significance and probability of revelation that it was worth utterly uprooting themselves for. So convinced in it, they take the costly, kingly and prophetic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to lay at the feet of the one they are guided to.
They had a misdirection, stopping first at King Herod’s palace close to Bethlehem, understood they sought something more, and five miles on, beneath the star, they find the Christ child and kneel in awe and wonder.
I imagine their bursting smiles of joy on their journey back in experiencing this special one and being part of such a moment in history. Giving up their familiar, taking the long, dangerous journey had been worthwhile. The revelation had come to them and they had to follow it!
I wonder what discomfort I am ready to face this decade in deeper search of God’s signs and revelations, in choosing to make a difference to climate change, in better self-care of mental, physical and spiritual health.
May God bless your decades footsteps with good health and revelation of God’s wonder x
The old year is worn and tired.
Time now to kiss it goodbye.
Take with you its wisdom –
the authority and power of all that you have learned.
Remember the past year with love,
but let go of its despair.
Live the year that lies ahead
with fresh energy and hope.
Be strong, have courage.
It is time now for something new.
This month we commemorate once again the sacrifice made by an unimaginably vast number of people who served, supported and died during the wars. You could not have lived through the WWII and been unaffected, it was a local, national and global catastrophe. But as the number of people who lived through the horror is fading, are the lessons learned in blood fading from memory as well? As we see a rise in the far right and extremism, an increased acceptability of divisive language and the rejection and dehumanisation of those considered ‘other’ or ‘lesser’ to ourselves.
In praying for peace, in committing ourselves to peace, we’re committing to reject hatred, intolerance, violence and war. We commit to live out a better future.
Remembrance is a time to honour those who made and continue to make great sacrifices in war but also to pray and commit to the costliness of peace.
And remember if it all feels too cyclical and too much God says:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Gospel of John 16:33
Peace be with you,
We are currently having a beautiful and vibrant late summer celebrating harvest, but I can’t quite let go of the ‘Beast from the East’ winter weather warnings. So our chimney has been swept, eco coal and oil ordered I just need to root out my cosy PJ’s and hot water bottle! When you have the means to keep warm, cuddling up on a cold winters day can be restoring, it is as if mother nature gives us permission to slow down and do the human form of hibernating!
Mother nature also sets us a good example in autumn, throwing down its leaves, it’s summer baggage, ready to take the time to rest, and nurture from within until spring. For those who find darker days energy and mood zapping, full hibernation I imagine sounds positively inviting.
I give thanks for our changing seasons where hopefully we all have months which better feed our spirit and energy. God has given us beauty, diversity and subtleness, to enjoy, to consider, to point to the presence of the One who loves us unchangingly through-out the ages and through all seasons.
May you feel the warmth of God’s love envelope you no matter what season of life you are experiencing,
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Over the summer I had the experience of being late and the noisy one in Church, well Merlin (our dog) and RJ (our grandson) made the noise! And the welcome and the kindness of the congregation to us all as I moved from the front to the back of the church again was wonderful. But I felt disruptive and vulnerable even in ‘my’ own church.
Looking at my eldest feeding his new son next to my youngest my heart swelled, but I was also reminded of taking him as a toddler to a local Baptist Church. I had returned to Church after a number of years so he could be brought up in a church. During the service my son a gorgeous boisterous toddler was ‘Shushed’ and asked to sit down by the woman next to me. I sat out the service not listening to a word, saying in my head ‘We’re not coming back again’. Once the service was over I rushed to the exit where the minister put out his hand and said how lovely it was to see us and especially to have a toddler there. I tearfully told him what had happened, he gently moved us to the side and said how sorry he was and that wasn’t the welcome of his church, encouraging us to come again. Tentatively we entered the following week and two people rushed up immediately saying ‘Oh do sit with us’. They were the kindest people smiling and interacting with my son and we stayed for many years.
So now twenty years later here I was being reminded of that time, thinking how others probably still feel coming into church even if we say (and truly mean) how welcome they and their children are. And it feels really important to say
Noisy, late you are always welcome!
P.S. Pet Service Sunday 13 October 10.30am Dullingham ~ Noisy animals welcome!
Late summer approaches, and with it the hope (for me at least!) that summer will stretch deep into Autumn. August I often feel has a different rhythm, bringing with it a change of pace for many. With holidays home or away, looking out on or pottering in the garden and time spent pondering the forthcoming change of season. I thought a poem might reflect this mood and came across this beautiful one by Revd Tom Troeger which emphasises the welcome of Christ, and I hope of our churches too, to everyone.
Do come and join us soon:
Look who gathers at Christ’s table! See the stories that they bring.
Some are weeping, some are laughing, some have songs they want to sing.
Others ask why they’re invited, burdened by the wrongs they’ve done.
Christ insists that all are welcome. There is room for everyone.
Bring your joy and bring your sadness, and prepare to be surprised
by the host whose hands are wounded, who will open up your eyes
when he blesses bread and breaks it — truth and manna from above!
and then passes wine that wakens in your heart the very taste of love.
Late Summer Blessings,
We have a standing joke (I think!) about who is the favourite child in our family. I remember one mothers response to this was that her favourite was the one who had the greatest need of her at that time. It got me thinking about how we might perceive our prayers to be valued by God. Do we think the prayers of a Priest or a Bishop or an Archbishop or Pope might be more valuable to God than our own?
And if this was the case does it mean that God has favourites and might then not be following the recommended parental advice?! Or rather might God answer just as that mother did ‘it is the ones who currently need me most that have my special attention’? Ministers do have a special calling to pray for others* and the world, but as children of God, which we all are, God I am sure lovingly and equally welcomes each and every one of our prayers and chats.
My three top tips on prayer:
1. Make them heartfelt: ‘Why? Noo! Sorry. Please. Thank-you. Groan. Silence.’ Are all fine.
2. Be expectant of seeing God answer in unexpected ways: In the clouds, through another, a bible passage, a message, an angel…
3. Be prepared to be the answer to what you ask for: If you pray for peace, be peaceful in your relationships. If you pray for people to be kinder to you, be kinder to others. If you pray for a loved one, tend and love them.
There is a great line from Morgan Freeman in Evan Almighty where a wife prays for patience. Morgan Freeman as God answers ‘Do you think when you ask God for patience he makes you more patient or rather gives you opportunities to practice being more patient’!
May God bless the prayers of your heart,
*If you would like to chat or ask for prayer in confidence, please do contact me
Come and Sing!! Sunday 4 August 10.30am Burrough Green Church
Favourite hymn? Let Anthea Kenna know, with a little note as to why
Confession time … I am a better steward of our churches than I am of the environment. I am much less ‘Green’ than I like to think I am. My heart is there but my energy and actions haven’t yet caught up! Who can fail to be impressed with 93 year old David Attenborough or the passion of Greta Thunberg and like minded young people, willing to make a stand; to change their practices, to safeguard our planet?
Revd Jim Bear Jacobs’ speaking from an Indigenous perspective corrected this already convincing statement ‘The earth is our greatest natural resource and it is incumbent upon us to protect it’ to the even more powerful ‘The earth is our most sacred relative and it is incumbent upon us to protect her.’
Thinking of mother earth as a living, sacred being, speaks more directly to me than pollution or over consumption. I want to ‘nurture’ her…. and my new grandson (Oh did I mention I am now a Nanna?!!).
Just before Jesus ascended he said ‘A new commandment I give to you, to love one another, as I have loved you.’
The Christian life is a simple one, to love God and to love one another, just as we are fully loved by God. And now I need also to extend that love to the earth; the diverse, beautiful, existence we share life with.
(She puts back the plastic tub of coleslaw and picks up a cabbage!!)
Blessings to you ,
Forty days after Jesus’ ascension, fifty days after Easter, the Holy Spirit comes on the disciples with a ‘whoosh’ and with fire and transforms lives. Fire, is particularly poignant as I write.
Yesterday evening Notre Dame’s 12th century cathedral, was torn apart by fire. Thousands stood in the streets and stared, unable to tear their eyes away. As flames rose, some began singing hymns as they watched in pain and sorrow. Some stood as witnesses, painful as it was, to respond with those around them.
During Holy Week Christians watched and waited, to let events of that week and then the coming of the Holy Spirit shape our whole being (as God sends us even more of God’s own self). And through singing our hearts out or standing speechless, we open ourselves, expectant, ready, for God’s spirit to transform us, and through us, the world.
Notre Dame will be resurrected. So can our lives. After the fire, through the ashes, new life will come. Altered and transformed, bringing beauty from brokenness…
Healing Blessings to you ,
Over 2000 years ago, the shock discovery of an empty tomb by Jesus’ close female companions caused pain and confusion. Instead of a sealed and guarded tomb containing his body, they found it open and empty, save the cloth used to wrap him in death. It was bad enough that Jesus, their teacher and Lord was dead. Now it seemed, someone had taken the body.
Why that tomb was empty is of utmost importance. If it was empty because someone had indeed stolen Jesus’ body – if a criminal’s death and an ordinary burial was all that took place over those three days then hope died with him on the cross. Trust in all he had said was destroyed – His promises nothing more than a devasting and life-shattering let-down.
Individuals and communities across the world will greet Easter day with shouts of ‘Alleluia! He is Risen!’. Many of us, Christian or not, will give Easter Eggs, the hollow egg is traditionally a symbol of that empty tomb.
We shout ‘He is risen!’ because beyond all expectation, hope did not stay dead. The impossible happened on that first Easter day. It blows our rational minds to even think it – despite some very compelling (and rational) evidence that supports it! The first disciples took some convincing too - Jesus appeared to them several times, but had to let them touch him and eat with them to bring the divine reality home.
He is alive! – His words were true! He was indeed part of God’s own self who came to us in love, to give us hope and reassurance for the future, for each day.
And for that we celebrate! Do join us!
Easter Day Family Services ~ 10am Dullingham Church with choir, bells and egg hunt!! ~ 10.30am Burrough Green Church with egg hunt!!
Revd Nikki Mann
Nikki is the Priest in Charge of the Raddesley Benefice (which consists of 6 churches) in Cambridgeshire