I hope everyone is keeping well and safe.
As we enter this season of Lent we begin with some good news, masks are no longer required in church (but of course, if you feel more comfortable you are welcome to continue wearing one) and in many of our churches we are returning to the Altar rail to receive communion. At present we will continue to give communion in 1 kind, the bread, but the latest advice from the Church in Wales is that if things continue in a positive way then we shall be looking to re-introduce the shared chalice from Easter Day.
Like many of you I have been both shocked and saddened by events in Ukraine and I encourage you all during Lent to pray for those affected by the conflict there as well as continuing to pray for Palestine, Afghanistan and some many other places in the world where war is a daily reality.
On Wednesday past it was very moving to be able to gather with some of you both for the quiet day in Llangynhafal and the Eucharist and Ashing in St Peter’s Ruthin as we crossed the threshold into the solemn season of Lent. The receiving of Ashes and the instruction of ‘Remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return, repent of your sins and return to God” strikes at the very heart of our faith as we are called through this season to strive to be more prayerful, to fast and to give more generously.
As we are called to pray, one idea you might like to take up is to think of 5 people who do not yet know the joy of God in their lives, and pray for them daily. As you pray for them daily look for opportunities to invite them to some of the special Lent services or the great liturgies of Holy Week and Easter Day.
As we are called to Fast often the first thing to do is to try and think of dieting, giving up chocolate or alcohol for the health benefits. Worthy as this may seem the Lenten practice of fasting is not about the health benefits to ourselves. The spiritual practice of fasting is meant to help us draw closer to God and to benefit others. One idea for a fast for Lent is to do a Carbon Fast. This means looking at your lifestyle and thinking of ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It can lead you spiritually to live more in tune with God’s creation and benefits some of the poorest communities in the world as the evidence shows that they are the most effected by climate change.
And as we are called to give generously and joyfully, Lent can be a good time to review your charitable giving. Our giving can be a difficult subject, at the moment there is a cost of living crises with energy and fuel especially increasing so drastically and many of us I’m sure are feeling the pinch which means that we feel like we have less that we can give. But these same pressures of increased costs effect all charities, including our churches. Church in Wales official teaching has always been to strive to give 5% of your income to the Church & 5% to other churches which is in keeping with the Biblical teaching of a 10% tithe. It is something I try to do myself but it is not always easy to do with so many competing pressures on our finances. In the next week or so I’m going to be setting aside some time to write a piece for you all about how we use your generous giving to the church, not only to keep our churches open but to fund the mission and ministry which is so active in our communities across Dyffryn Clwyd.
As we move forward into Lent there are a number of things coming up –
An early reprieve from our Lenten fasting as we celebrate with Rev’d Stuart his 65 years! Do come and enjoy some music and raise a glass to Stuart at his Birthday Bash Fundraiser at 7.30pm next Friday in St Peter’s Ruthin. You can get tickets through our website https://dyffrynclwyd.co.uk/eventbrite-event/birthday-bash
Also that Friday Teen Screen returns at 7pm in No.10 Mwrog Street. For young people in secondary school it’s a chance to come and relax, chill out and put your feet up with a good film.
Looking further ahead we have our next Travelling Evensong on Sunday the 13th, this time Llanbedr Church will be hosting.
And on Saturday 26th of March there will be an opportunity to come and pray the Stations of the Cross as seen through the eyes of the Beatitudes accompanied by the Voci Choir at 5pm in Llanynys Church.
This coming Monday we will be starting our Lent Course from Leading your Church into Growth (LyCiG), if you haven’t signed up for this yet then please do let me know as soon as possible so I can get the work book and zoom link to you.
As always there is so much coming up and going on that I’ve probably forgotten half a dozen things at least!
Wishing you all a spirit filled and prayerful journey through Lent that will lead you to those places of encounter with our God.
Mission Area Leader of Dyffryn Clwyd www.DyffrynClwyd.Co.Uk