The Parish Office received an email encouraging us to make sure that the letter below got into ‘the February magazine…’ Sadly, we are still struggling to find individuals with the time and talent to take on the key role of editor and compiler for the Parish News and once again the call goes out for anyone who thinks they may have something to offer to approach the Churchwardens or Rector…. they’d love to hear from you!
So, in the absence of a magazine we’re putting the letter in this week’s Newsletter – not quite a ‘Parish News’ but still full of information – and encouragement – for us to share fully in the life of the church which, as the great Bishop Temple said ‘is the only club that exists for non-members!’.
Bishop Richard’s letter reminds us that Lent will soon be upon us and that this being the Diocesan ‘Year of the Bible’ will give our parish churches the opportunity, through all the activities held in Lent, to have an unashamed focus of on God’s Living Word and how we are more alive to that Word. After all, if there’s one ‘publication’ we should consider front and centre in parish life it is The Bible!
Contemporary culture is shy of words like discipline. It smacks of judgmentalism, and who are we to sit in judgement on anyone? However, discipline and self-denial have always been part of Christian discipleship. The need for personal change is rooted in our understanding that who we are is not entirely God’s creative work. We are gloriously made in the image of God, but we also recognise that the image is marred by sin. This is a reality for all of us, not just President Assad and ISIS terrorists.
Perhaps it would be better to replace the word discipline with training. We understand how athletes need to train in order to perform at their best, and we too, if Christ’s likeness is to be formed in us, need to train spiritually. For an Olympic athlete the prize makes the sacrifice worthwhile. For Christians the prize is becoming more like Jesus and therefore being better able to represent him to a broken and hurting world.
Lent has traditionally been a time when we deny ourselves things we enjoy in order to walk with Christ in his sufferings, albeit not to the same intensity! More recently, we have been encouraged to take up something new in our spiritual journey. In this Diocesan Year of The Bible Lent would be a great time to turn off the telly or Facebook, get up a bit earlier and use the recovered time to start reading the Bible more systematically.
Athletes have to change their diet if they are to be equipped for the task. The Bible is the Christian’s spiritual diet. How much better to have our minds formed by that than the depressing (and sometimes even corrupting) fare regularly served by contemporary media.
Rt. Rev. Richard Jackson
Bishop of Lewes
Additional Collect for Third Sunday of Epiphany
God of all mercy your Son proclaimed good news to the poor, release to the captives, and freedom to the oppressed: anoint us with your Holy Spirit and set all your people free to praise you in Christ our Lord. Amen
At the main service at Birdham (9.30am) the theme for Alistair Ghinn’s sermon will be “PRAYER = Positive Reassuring Action Yielding Eternal Results”. At West Wittering (9.30) the theme for George Talbot’s sermon will be “We are never too old or young” and at 11.00 Alistair Ghinn’s theme will be “ASAP ASAP = Always say a prayer as soon as possible”. At Itchenor (11.00) the theme for Jim Mould’s sermon will be “Team Leaders and Team Players”
There will be 8.00 BCP Holy Communion at West Wittering and Birdham.
There will be Evensong at West Wittering at 6.00 and Annette Stickley’s theme will be Music as Worship
We continue to pray for:
Maurice Stokes and Carl Schweiso
And those who have recently died and their loved ones:
Pamela Street, Peter Johnston, Sally Lansdale, Doreen Darley, Myfanwy Reid, Fred Lilly, Pam Keatinge and Sidney Hook.
The Ministry Team are only too happy to talk through aspects of their Sermon. If you know of anyone who needs our prayers or would appreciate a visit, please let the Rector or the Parish Administrator know.
Readings for 22nd January
Third Sunday of Epiphany
Isaiah 9. 1-4; 1 Corinthians 1. 10-18; Matthew 4. 12-23
Romans 12. 16b-end; Matthew 8. 1-13
Ecclesiastes 3. 1-11; 1 Peter 1. 3-12
Readings for 29th January
Malachi 3. 1-5; Hebrews 2. 14-end; Luke 2. 22-40
Purification of the BVM
Galatians 3. 1-7; Luke 2. 22-40
Haggai 2. 1-9; John 2. 18-22