Giving something up for Lent
There comes a time in every child’s life when – out of themselves – they want to give something back to their parents, whose love and care are the foundation of their existence. One such moment in my life came when I felt moved to make my mother a cup of tea, when she was having a long conversation on the telephone. This was in the days when the telephone was tethered to the coldest spot in the house, by the front door. Although it was probably the worst cup of tea my mother ever drank – I did not know the rules about warming the pot and how much tea to put in – I can imagine that it was also the best cup of tea she ever tasted, because her child wanted to do something for her.
What is it that makes the gift given in thanks so special? It seems that the original gift is only half the story; the gift returned in gratitude completes the circle, for what is offered is never the same as what was given: it has been transformed and given value through the gesture of gratitude.
We are about to enter the first part of Lent, the period from Ash Wednesday to Passiontide. While the colours of the altar and the seasonal prayers remain the same as last week, the year has taken a turn: we are setting out with Christ on the journey that will lead to his self-offering in the death on the cross. The reading for the first of the seven Sundays of this journey is the invitation to a young man of high birth to give away all his riches. The Gospel tells us that he was sad when he heard Jesus’ instruction. Perhaps we can imagine this sadness not on the trivial level of regret at his loss, but on a deeper level: when we sense that something new is being asked of us, our natural buoyancy is diminished; sadness stills the soul and prepares it to be receptive for our new direction in life.
In the Act of Consecration of Man we are invited to offer up the powers of our soul: our will, our feeling and our thinking. How would it feel if, at least for a moment, we felt that we had given everything away, so that we had nothing left? Could we imagine that our very own treasures, the forces of our soul, were being consumed in the fire of love that burns at the end of the Offering? Perhaps then we would feel the same openness for the new that the young man felt. To practise this, to deepen it week by week, could make our experience of Lent and Passiontide existential. And there might grow in us a faint notion that what we have given up for Lent can become part of what in the Bible is called a ‘pleasing fragrance for the Lord’. Our offering of thanks completes the circle: the gift has been passed on, and the spiritual world receives it with joy.
It was a joy to welcome back the Kidbrooke Park Singers and Friends for their concert on Sunday. Our thanks go to Diane Howard and all who made this such a resounding success. Nearly £200 was raised for church funds. We are hoping to host another concert in the summer.
The coffee rota still has places to be filled.
We are looking forward to welcoming Ilse Wellershof-Schuur for the weekend on the Holy Land, from 1st-3rd March. As a basis for the bring and share lunch on Saturday, 2nd, we are looking for volunteers to make a soup.
There will be House and Garden Morning on Saturday, 10th February, 10am-noon.
Our storage space for second-hand books is at its limit. Please don’t leave any books for the book-table at the moment.
Tom will be in Ilkeston 16-17 February.
Tom Ravetz, Nataliia Shatna
We would like to remind you that the Forward Education initiative are hiring the community room, children’s room and foyer on Mondays, 8am-4pm. This means that they have exclusive use of those spaces and we would ask you please to respect that.
We are delighted to be welcoming Revd Ilse Wellershof-Schuur to Forest Row. Alongside her duties as a priest in The Christian Community, Ilse has been working with Arab and Jewish partners from Galilee to create a meeting place for all of the cultures in the region for the last twenty-five years. Over the years, a place of living and learning for volunteers and seminarians, a forest theatre stage, a garden, and an inter-religious place of worship have grown in the forest, on the edge of the anthroposophical village community of Harduf. The 25th anniversary celebration, held in Oldenburg, Germany, on October 13, was particularly meaningful in the shadow of violence and war.
Programme of the weekend:
Friday, 1st March at 7pm
The Cross of the Earth – The Holy Land in Geography, History, Cultures and Religions
Opening lecture by Ilse Wellershoff-Schuur
Saturday, 2nd March
10.30am The ‘Promised Land’ and its Religious and Cultural Significance
Contribution and conversation
1pm Bring & Share Lunch
2.30 – 4pm Rulers, Destinies and Narratives
Presentation with slides
Sunday, 3rd March
11.30am Presentation and Conversation on
‘Whose is the Land?’ – The Squaring of the Circle
Including a report on our work in Sha’ar laAdam – Bab l’il Insan, the intercultural center in Galilee
We hope that our weekend will be a source of insight and inspiration for many people – please let anyone know, who you think might be interested.
There will be a celebration of die Menschenweihehandlung, the Act of Consecration of Man in German, on Saturday, 2nd March at 9am.
We have set a date for the Annual Congregational Meeting, where there will be an update about the finances and a chance for discussion about the life of the congregation. This will be held on Sunday, 10th March from 11.30am-12.45pm.
Please note that the diary is updated until the end of the current programme period (17th March).
New events will be added when the new programme comes out.
Support The Christian Community
To make a one off donation or to set up a monthly standing order, please use the account details below
Account Name: The Christian Community in Forest Row
Sort Code 30-92-92
Account Number: 00012363
Lloyds TSB, 1/3 London Road, East Grinstead
West Sussex RH19 1AH
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