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View from the Manse


Dear Friends,

Perhaps the most famous date in February is February the 14th – Valentine’s Day. Famous for celebrating love and romance or the sending of unsigned cards and of course the importance of that red rose – one or a dozen I can never remember!

It is fitting in a way, that this year Lent, begins on this day. The traditional services of marking people on the forehead with the sign of the cross made from the ashes of last years palm crosses, may not be something we do that often today. But never the less, it is a service that reminds us of the journey of Lent and the gift of God’s love for us in Jesus and all that he was about to bear for us.

God’s love is at the very heart of the Good News we have for all the world, so to begin the Lenten journey this year on such a day seems oddly right. What would you prefer, a romantic meal out or a service using the words, ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.’? Being faithful to Christ is for me, what is at the very heart of Lent. For Lent is a time when we intentionally spend time reading and studying the Bible and drawing closer to God in prayer, learning of the extent of his love for us and for all people. The desire to be faithful to Christ in the Ash Wednesday service is to return again to the Covenant we make and renew each year in January.

Sometimes being faithful to God means that we carry on as normal. There are some things which will not change, and yet there are others that will, or perhaps our attitude towards them may change. For Tabitha and me, we realise that our faithfulness to God will lead us in the summer to move from Abingdon to Chepstow for a new period of ministry, and here you will be welcoming Rev Georgina (all of course, subject to Conference!). Faithfulness to God can and does at times involve challenge and change, but God is also steadfastly faithful to us. His love for us does not lessen whatever we may do. Gently, calmly, God invites us to come close and live as part of his family.

For this reason, we live as a confident people because our confidence is in God, not just in what we can or cannot do. Lent becomes less a period of self-sacrifice of things we might try to give up, but a time of enrichment, encouragement and joy as we seek to pay attention to the gifts and graces that God has given us. Gifts and graces to use as freely as they were given to us.

So let us join in with those other famous words from Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” as we come closer to the God who loves us beyond anything we can measure.

Every blessing


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All Saints Methodist Church
Appleford Drive
OX14 2AQ

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