So far Ash Wednesday has been a good, thoughtful start to Lent. Despite my struggle to get up this morning...yawn... the Morning Service went very well, as a group of Mission Community members from various different villages shared bread and wine, a time to reflect and pray, a litany of penitence and all had a smudgy ash cross inscribed upon our foreheads.
I then went off to Yarcombe, where a 'frugal Lunch' marked the beginning of Lent - bread and soup, but very nice bread and soup it was. Lunch ended with a presentation by the Street Pastors from Taunton, a very good presentation, which talked of the practical ways in which this group, started in London in 2003, is now active in towns and cities all over the UK and seeks to reach out with care and love to those in our cities and towns late at night, particularly those slightly worse for wear after a night in the pubs and clubs. No preaching, just pastoring. Web site worth a visit here!
I have spent a lot of time over the last few days trying to sort out Baptisms - they all seem to come at the same time and I have four families all wanting Baptism services for their offspring over the coming weeks in the same village. We, following the guidance of our Bishops, only offer baptism as part of a main Sunday service, so it gets quite difficult to juggle the usual service pattern in such a way that one of the Clergy can be available at the same time as that Church is due a service in which it is appropriate to have a baptism and which is suitable for the families involved.
So the rest of today sees some sorting out of the piles of paper that cover my desk, some more phone calls, another Ash Wednesday service at 7pm and a funeral visit at 9pm, after which I can write the funeral address for tomorrow and then go to bed knowing that our funeral tomorrow is all in place and sorted.
And whilst here, another though for the week, this one was my 150 word response to the tragic events in Haiti and was published a few weeks back...
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake many are asking “Why did God allow this?” and in this short thought I am not going to try to resolve the struggle that many have when confronted with such tragedy. I do know, though, that that God of the Bible doesn’t “willingly afflict or grieve anyone” (Lamentations 3.33) but is alongside the suffering and gives strength to those dealing with these events and those seeking to help the victims of that earthquake. In the suffering of Jesus Christ on the Cross we see a God who isn’t divorced from the pain of this world, but who suffers alongside us and knows what agony and even death are like. In the midst of devastation we pray for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have died and for those seeking to aid the needy, may they know God with them.