During our lifetime we all make promises, and with the best intentions. The chances are, however, that for one reason or another we break our promise, all part of being human. That is why the promises made by God are so sure and strong and we can rely on them.
My favourite assurance of God’s faithfulness is in the Gospel of St John, Chapter 14, verse 27 which says:
“ Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you. A peace the world cannot give. This is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
We can rest on that promise and, particularly in these days, that is a great strength.
The Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has said that poetry is ‘by definition consoling’ because ‘it often asks us just to focus and think and be contemplative.
The Miserere by Gregorio Allegri has taken on the status of a musical legend, with stories of how it was kept only for the Vatican, by the Vatican until transcribed from memory by Mozart. See the whole story here in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miserere_(Allegri).
Just to hear the whole piece for 12 minutes, while reading the words from Psalm 51 is a perfect Lenten reflection. Some of it was played during our Ash Wednesday zoom service.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
It is fairly certain to say that Delia Smith is so well known that it is not necessary to say who she is.
‘A Feast for Lent’ is one of four religious works that Delia Smith has published. (There is also a Feast for Advent). In it she shares her thoughts, prayers and reflections on biblical passages associated with Lent.
The honest simplicity of the book never lets you down. You can rely on it to encourage and speak to you personally every time you read it.
It can become like a friend for life if you let it – and can be recommended to anyone looking for help in their journey towards Easter during their everyday life.
If you are interested in joining a Lent group to listen or watch or read something to spark thought and discussion, please email me for more details and to express your interest.
Please don’t forget to buy your Smartie tube to fill with cash for Lent. It would be great to see lots of filled tubes coming back after Easter.
Save the date – another fund raising Quiz Night in aid of St. Matthew’s will be held on Friday 26th February – 7p.m. for a 7.30p.m. start. Please let all your friends and family know about this event and encourage them to join in. Please let us know, either by ‘phone or email us at: , if you are joining us for the evening so that we can send you the Zoom details nearer the time.
Last year was tough on the finances, this year may well be no better. Please support us in whatever way you can. Thank you.
As we move into Lent, please take a look at the Benefice services page for service details for the coming week.
Bob Hurd’s setting of Psalm 42 is rightly popular. As with many psalms, the writer is struggling with a sense of the absence of God in time of great need, which is then resolved ultimately in the relief of knowing that God is always present, it is only we ourselves that prevent us be aware of him. Here are some verses from the NRSV translation:
Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
This year throughout Lent we are introducing a series of daily reflections that we hope will provide you with something to reflect on for that day.
We intend to have a number of contributors from the benefice, each sharing something of significance to them – a passage of prose, a poem, a picture, or a piece of music that holds a special meaning. It may be topical, or it may be something they have carried with them over the years. Their reflection may lead us on to prayer or to a greater appreciation of something previously unconsidered.
Everyone will have their own ideas on the spirituality, but Lent can provide an opportunity for us all to enrich our inner life, the life of the spirit within us. We hope these reflections will help.