Vicar's Letter

Dear Friends

I expect by now Christmas may seem a very dim and distant memory.  I can hardly believe it was only a month ago. Yet in church, our Christmas celebrations don’t finish until the 1st weekend of February when we will be celebrating the Feast of the Presentation of Christ at the Temple – Candlemas. This marks the end of Christmas. So, if you haven’t put all your Christmas decorations away yet – that’s fine. Keep them up until Candlemas!

It will be Stewardship Sunday on the last Sunday of January. Stewardship is first and foremost about how, as Christians, and as a church, we respond to God’s love and all that God has given us, and done for us, in Jesus.  So, the starting point should be to ‘give thanks with a grateful heart’ as the hymn reminds us. Are we living thankful lives?

Stewardship is a natural part of living life as a Christian. It’s not an add-on – simply because the church needs money, or because we’re short of people on the chair rota! The question we are asked to think about is our response to God’s generosity and love. How can we use our time, our talents (and believe it or not we each have talents!) and our money to serve God, and how can we do that, in and through the church? 

The first weekend of February will be Pantomime Weekend! Yes, the waiting is finally over. This year, it is ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Do come to one of the three performances to support CHOGS members taking part (Oh yes we are!), as well as helping to raise much needed funds for our Community Centre. Buy your tickets from the Centre Office as soon as you can to avoid disappointment.

Lent will soon be upon us. Candlemas marks one of those significant turning-points in the Church year, where we change our focus.  We turn away from the Christmas crib, and prepare ourselves to walk with Jesus the way of the cross through the weeks of Lent to Holy Week and Easter.

Do join us for our evening Communion Service (with imposition of ashes, for those who wish) on Ash Wednesday, 26th February at 8pm.

For several years now at the Good Shepherd, we have encouraged church members to use Lent to support our mission partners, Mark and Rosalie Balfour, and their work for CMS in Guatemala. If this is something you would like to do, please take one of the CMS collection boxes to use at home during Lent.This too can be an exercise in gratitude. You may choose to put a donation in at meal times, remembering those who are hungry or who struggle to provide food for their families; or after a bath or shower, in thankfulness for the gift of running water we enjoy; or each night, in thankfulness for a warm bed. In my student days I did a sponsored ‘sleep-out‘ one bitterly cold February night. I was counting the hours until morning! I have never taken a warm, comfortable bed for granted since!

Details of all the services and activities on offer during Lent, including our Lent course, will be finalised shortly.

Wishing you all a holy and blessed Lent.

With love,