All Stations to Calvary
When I was a youthful train spotter, one of my “partners in crime” moved away from our home in Dorset to Dover. On several occasions I visited him, naturally by train, which involved using Waterloo East station in London, an experience that opened up a whole network of place-names of which I’d never heard, an excellent introduction to the dense suburban electric railway of the south-east. Waiting for my train I remember being struck by the station announcer continually referring to trains heading for wherever, calling at all stations except St John’s (which is near Lewisham). I used to think, “Whatever is wrong with St John’s? Does no one want to go there?” Later I realised that St John’s is only a minor station, even in London terms, and doesn’t merit much of a frequency even on such a busy route!
If one likens the Church’s Year to a train journey, I guess we’re about to leave Epiphany, and the next station stop will be Lent! For some, Lent can feel a bit austere, especially after the glories of Christmas. Maybe there is a little corner in all of us that wishes that the train would miss out that stop altogether and run fast to Easter instead! That would be a pity as we need to engage with the sufferings of Christ before we can truly appreciate the joy of Easter Day. It is possible to overdo the self-denial thing; it’s not a punishment or a rejection of any kind of enjoyment as inherently bad. What it does do is to remind us that we rely on God for our wellbeing rather than on that luxury thing that all too easily becomes routine.
I am pleased that, this year, we can add to our Lent offering at St Andrew’s, a new service after a gap of some years. We have been given, anonymously, funding for a new set of Stations of the Cross in memory of a departed relative of the donor.
For those unfamiliar with the devotion, Stations of the Cross are a series of pictures or carvings depicting incidents from Jesus’ last journey from his judgement by Pontius Pilate to his crucifixion on Calvary. They are usually set around the walls of a church and a journey is made by individuals or groups, stopping at each for prayer and reflection. It reflects an early custom of pilgrims tracing the Via Dolorosa (or Way of Sorrows) in Jerusalem, but obviously designed for those who cannot get there in person. Not all the stations are linked to the biblical Passion of Christ. Some arise from tradition and some are surmised. All help us to reflect on the self-sacrificing love of God in Jesus Christ for the salvation of the whole world. The service is not designed to make us feel sorry for Jesus and how he was treated, nor, as such, to make us feel guilty for our sins, but more to reflect on what our response might be to being loved so much.
You may already be familiar with the tapestry stations on the wall of the south aisle in church. These were lovingly made by our former Banner Group. However, fine as they are, due no doubt to their size, the number of stations was smaller compared with the traditional fourteen. Although many meditations have been written to read and pray with alongside the traditional stations, they do not work with ours as the story of the Passion is conflated and some traditional scenes omitted altogether. We have a very good set of meditations, written by Katharine Smith, a Reader formally on the staff here, but obviously that restricts how we can use the pictures. Many other meditations have been written (I have quite a collection) and it will be good to be able to use them as part of our Lenten journey.
It is therefore a real joy to receive a traditional set that we can use to restart this form of devotion on a weekly basis during Lent. At the time of writing I am still consulting on exactly when these services, which last for about 45 minutes, will be held as I want to choose a time that will benefit as many people as possible. Watch this space!
Feast of Presentation
Candlemas, 2 February, or the last day of Christmas! Apart from our usual morning worship, including at the Parish Eucharist the ceremonial removal of the figures from the Crib, there will be Choral Evensong, led by our Choir, at 6.00pm.
Table Top Sale
Saturday 22 February from 10.00am to 12 Noon in the Hall. If you have items to sell you can book a table for a modest fee, and then retain your sales income. Contact Ali Perry or the Parish Office for more information and to book.
This year Lent begins on 26 February. As usual there will be a Said Eucharist at 10.00am and a Sung Eucharist at 7.30pm, both offering the Imposition of Ashes.
We were sad to mark the passing of two long-standing and much loved members of the congregation in recent weeks. They were Barbara Campbell, who died on Christmas Eve, aged 100, and whose funeral we held on 15 January. Also Gilbert Fairs, aged 92, who died on 13 January and whose funeral was held at the Crematorium in Taunton on 29 January. Gilbert was a past member of both our church choir and Taunton Deane Male Voice Choir, who performed as part of the funeral. We give thanks for both Barbara and Gilbert and pray that they may rest in peace and rise in glory.
New St Andrews
We’re delighted to say that the Buy & Build scheme is very successful – it has raised over £6,000 already, and it’s not too late to join in! Our architect, Jo Hibbert, was so pleased with our multi-coloured chart that she instantly photographed it as an inspiration for others.