In this newsletter:

Journeying in Lent

Lent will soon be upon us, starting with Ash Wednesday on 1st March. For those of us who wish it, we can gather that day in the morning at St John’s, or the evening at St Peter’s (see pew sheets for times) to receive on our foreheads, in ash, the sign of the cross. We follow our Lord into the place of desert, fasting and testing, where we are asked to look at ourselves afresh, to deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Christ. The ash on our foreheads reminds of us the need to be honest and bare with ourselves before God – so our churches are traditionally not adorned with flowers or other decoration.

As we follow our Lord through these days of testing, we are reminded of the familiar theme of Lent being a journey – a physical one as our bodies might feel tested and cleansed; a mental one as we grapple with issues pressing on us and we possibly make new decisions about the direction our life takes; and a spiritual one as God finds new ways to speak to us and through us.

I wonder if you might use this Lent to open yourselves to God, and new spiritual growth? The churches in Caversham are putting on a number of study or discussion groups across the churches. They will focus on different subjects, and use different means to allow us to meet God – some will be discussion groups only, one will use the medium of film to inspire thought an discussion, another will allow a good deal of silence to enable God to be at work. Why don’t you give one of the groups a try.

So I hope you might find the chance, perhaps each day this Lent, to spend a little time thinking about where your life has got to, what is going well and what is not? What do you hope for, and what do you need to lay aside in order for new growth? I wonder if you can spend some of that time, free from the shackles of all our busy lives, looking through the eyes of faith for God at work in our world. Where are you noticing him at work in you, and in the world? Can you be encouraged by a glimpse of God – where goodness is overcoming evil; where love is overcoming fear or hatred; where generosity is overcoming disinterest or selfishness? How about coming to church and telling others of us about what you have noticed. As communities of faith we ought to be places where glimpses of God are named and celebrated.

This Holy Week our journey of faith in Lent will be brought home with opportunities for physical journeys. St John’s will host a labyrinth during the week as an aid to prayer. Penny explains later in this edition of CTM News how this will work. On Good Friday we are all invited to join with Christians from other churches in Caversham for the annual walk of witness, starting at the Baptist church and ending in Caversham Court Gardens. This is an opportunity to publicly show our faith in this local community, as we pray, sing hymns and walk with our Lord the path to the cross. Do come and join us.


Annual Church Meeting

Once again our Annual Parochial Church Meeting will soon be upon us on 2 April – please make sure that date is in your diary as we gather at St John’s for our now familiar pattern of a meeting within an act of worship. As we gather as three churches together, we are invited to thank God for all that he is doing in this parish, and to commend to God our hopes, aspirations and those elected for the year ahead.

For the last three years I have encouraged you to ensure you have read the annual report and accounts in advance of the meeting, as we will not be reading them out at the meeting. The report and accounts will be available on the parish website shortly, or you can request a paper copy from Caroline Smith.

Of particular interest this year will be the election of five representatives to the Deanery Synod. Often in the Church of England, these positions fall at the bottom of the list of priorities for church people, as the Deanery is deemed to be a place of little importance to the average church. Many in Reading Deanery tell me how bright and enthusiastic our deanery synod meetings are these days. Over the last 2 years we have grappled with designing a long term mission plan, where the deanery can bring its human and financial resources to compliment and support parish mission plans. As finances in the deanery remain tight, it is vital that our parish voice is heard as the deanery parish share formula is reviewed.

Please can I urge you to consider therefore whether you would be willing to stand for election to this important body in the life of the Church in Reading.


Holy Week & Easter services

In addition to our familiar pattern of services for Holy Week and Easter (as listed on the Forthcoming Events page – website editor), St John’s will also be offering a new opportunity for prayer. Penny writes:

The Labyrinth is coming to St John’s. Ever thought of going on a pilgrimage? A labyrinth provides an opportunity to go on a spiritual journey, seeking God, without having to leave the church building! You follow a single, marked path which winds its way to ‘Jerusalem’, a place where you can just ‘be’ in God’s presence. You follow the same path back out into the world, bringing with you whatever you have received from God. There will be several opportunities to walk the labyrinth during Holy Week. Keep an eye out for details in the news sheets.

During Holy Week, Marion will also be available in St Peter’s church on Wednesday 12th April from 10.30-4pm. She suggests:

Come and talk to me about anything that’s bothering you- maybe recent or old memories which are still keeping you awake at night! Talking about your faith! Or maybe as it is Holy Week you would like to make your confession (maybe for the first time ever). Nearer the time I will put a chart at the back of the church marked in 1/2 hour slots. Just tick a time slot- not your name! Everything will be totally confidential! Be brave!

Dates for your diary

Events are also listed on the Forthcoming Events page and the Parish Calendarwebsite editor.

1 March10amAsh Wednesday, St Johns
1 March7.30pmAsh Wednesday, St Peters
5 March12.30pmSt Margarets Church Forum
8 March7.30pmSt Johns CLT
12 March4pmSunday@4 – Community Prayer Meeting, St Johns
12 March6.30pmJourney through Lent with St Matthew, St Peters
15 March7.30pmPCC
18 March2.30pmParish spring social at St Johns
22 March7.30pmSt Peters CLT
26 MarchMothering Sunday in all churches
26 March4pmSunday@4 – Community Prayer Meeting, St Johns
2 April9.30amParish-wide service and APCM, St Johns

Other newsletters are in the newsletter archive