rector's march pew letter
Lent is just around the corner with Ash Wednesday this coming week. I love the liturgy we will using at the 11am Lent Communion services (with the purple covers). This part of the Communion prayer I love especially:
For in these forty days you lead us
into the desert of repentance
that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline
we may grow in grace
and learn to be your people once again.
Through fasting, prayer and acts of service
you bring us back to your generous heart.
Through study of your holy word
you open our eyes to your presence in the world
and free our hands to welcome others
into the radiant splendour of your love.
I don’t know whether you plan to lay something down or take something up for Lent but this prayer really says it all. Repentance, prayer, fasting, acts of grace and studying God’s word. Ask God what He would have you do.
I wear an Apple watch that counts my steps, tracks my heart-rate and knows how far I’ve cycled or walked. I recently received my annual “year in review” which I confess wasn’t entirely good news (I need to work harder at my fitness!).
The report made me wonder… what if there was a spiritual ‘Apple Watch Monitor’? I sometimes wish one existed. Something that would remind me how many minutes I’ve prayed, how many “steps” I took in faith, how well my giving matched my income, the number of times I shared my faith, when I showed grace and when I exercised mercy.
We shouldn’t reduce spirituality to such things but tracking them would at least hold us accountable to some bare minimums. Imagine a “Workweek Challenge” for how many times we served the poor or stood against injustice. A “spiritual” Apple Watch Monitor could feed into legalism and cater to a ‘justification by works’ mentality, but I still feel that James, the brother of Jesus, might like it as an encourager. After all, he did write: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14)
Maybe we could spend this Lent imagining we’ve that spiritual monitor attached to us and then reflect on how well we’re doing – or not...
The Annual Church Meeting. The APCM is on Sunday 28th April. We are having a single service on that day (time TBC) which will incorporate the Meeting and finish with a shared lunch. Could be chaos but we thought we’d give it a try. Do please put it in your diaries now.
The Church Electoral Roll will be completely renewed this year in readiness for the APCM when the existing list will become void. If you consider yourself a member of BPC it is important that you add your name to the Roll by completing an application form (available at the back of Church or downloadable at www.bpchurch.uk/voting) and returning it to the Church Office, no later than Sunday 7th April. Full information is at www.bpchurch.uk/voting
Parish Weekend Away. We are absolutely thrilled that Revd Paul and Christine Perkin will be our leaders for the w/e away on 27-29 September at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, Hertfordshire.. Do please sign-up on the forms in church.
Bibles. I know that many of us use smartphones and iPads but it is great to have an actual bible in one’s hand. I hope that:
· the welcomers/sidespeople give them out,
· the readers announce the page numbers,
· the preachers refer to the text in ways which members of the congregation can follow in their Bibles.
Chairs. We’ve potentially found a home for the existing chairs (in churches in Southall and Milton Keynes) and are now awaiting approval from the Diocese before proceeding. We hope to have the new chairs in situ by mid-May.
Focus Church Holiday. Creating community is a vital part of our vision and one of the ways we do this is to take a group to the ‘Focus’ church holiday (25-30th July). Most people camp (those that don’t stay off-site and come in daily) and we have a community pitch where our marquee lives and is where we eat and hang-out. The kids/young people’s activities are awesome. We’d love to keep growing the group so if you’re interested in coming see me and visit bpchurch.uk/focus. Bursaries are available.
Connect Groups. We have some 18 connect groups and I’d really encourage you to join one (or form one) as they really are such a crucial part of our discipleship and pastoral care. Revd Michael Greig is the person to speak to.
New to BPC? If you are new and haven’t yet completed a ‘Welcome’ card then please pick one up from the back of church, complete it and post it into the red letterbox. If you don’t, we’ll be unable to keep you updated on forthcoming events and you’ll miss out on dinner at The Rectory. If you’d like more information on us just visit www.bpchurch.uk or ask to meet one of the team after a service.
Easter isn’t far off. Do think about inviting friends along.
· There will be no Seder Meal on Maundy Thursday but instead the usual Stripping the Altar service with Holy Communion and a vigil.
· There will be a Good Friday service in BPC at 10.15 followed at 10.45 by a procession with the cross to the Old Gaol. Hot Cross buns will be served at The Centre after the short service.
· On Easter Day we’ll have the usual 8am service followed by the 9.30 Family Service that will be action-packed, the 11am will again be very traditional with Communion up at the High Altar and at the 6pm we will be having a massive celebration with amazing music and teaching plus a meal after the service.
Do get inviting!
Dates for your Diary:
6th March Ash Wednesday services at 10am and 7.30pm
9th March Men’s Breakfast 8.30am
16th March Women’s Cake Decorating 7.30pm
21st March Men’s Outreach Pizza Evening, The Centre, Verney Close 7.30pm
24th March Benefice Lunch BPC
And finally - Prayer & Praise. We meet as usual for an hour of ‘Prayer & Praise’ on Monday 4th 8-9pm. It is vital that as a church we pray fervently for God’s direction and blessing on our ministries and people.