Resolutions for Lent
Faithfully and sincerely living the Christian life means a
continual effort to live up to the ideals Christ has set us.
Because we so regularly fall short we are constantly picking
ourselves up and making a new effort, a new beginning.
Lent is a terrific opportunity to make such a fresh start.
This in effect means making resolutions. They should be few,
practical and reasonable. A little self-knowledge should be
brought to bear. It is quite pointless making great promises
if you know yourself well enough to know that you will not
keep them up.
Stations of the Cross -
Fridays in Lent
As in previous years, we will be joining with our Christian
brothers and sisters from St Gregory’s Roman Catholic Church
for these devotions on the fourteen 'Stations of the Cross’.
They are ‘snapshots’ taken during the final hours of
Christ’s earthly life, and an invaluable of keeping the
Lenten season and deepening our understanding of what God in
Christ has done for love of us. Stations take place on
Friday evenings at 7.30pm, as follows:
The Stations of the Cross are an invaluable enrichment to
our spiritual observance of Lent, as well as a wonderful
teaching resource which exposes us to the central beliefs of
Download the poster here as a handy reminder of the
dates and please do come if you possibly can.
The Things He Carried: A Journey
to the Cross
The narrative of Holy Week is powerful and painful but,
because we know how the story ends, it’s easy to gloss over
the difficult details and stay in the comfort zone of our
understanding. This course, written by Stephen Cottrell, the
Bishop of Chelmsford, brings home vividly and poignantly the
physical reality of the Passion story. It seeks to stimulate
thought, provoke discussion and create space for
‘In order to understand the cross you need to stand under it
… with the imagination as well as the mind …This course aims
to help in that process. However you use it, I hope you will
receive some small appreciation of just how much the cross
weighs, and maybe even pick it up yourself.’ From the
The weekly sessions are as follows:
Wednesday 13 March
Wednesday 20 March
crown of thorns
Wednesday 27 March
Thursday 4 April
The sins of the world
Wednesday 10 April
Download the Lent Course poster here as a handy reminder
of the dates and please do come if you possibly can.
Mothering Sunday - 31
Mothering Sunday is the Fourth or ‘Mid’ Sunday of Lent.
Sometimes it is known also as Refreshment Sunday where the
rigours of Lent, in particular fasting, are relaxed. At the
10.15am All Age Mass we give thanks to God for the vocation
of motherhood – Mary the mother of Jesus, mother Church, and
our own mothers. The celebration will be sensitive to those
for whom motherhood has also brought sadness, and
acknowledge that, for a variety of reasons, not all women
A little background: As the Roman Empire and Europe
converted to Christianity, the pagan celebration of the
mother goddess Cybele became part of the liturgical calendar
for the fourth Sunday of Lent to honour the Virgin Mary and
the mother Church. This was based on the Epistle for the
fourth Sunday in Lent, as later set out in the Book of
Common Prayer, which gives a special place to the theme of
maternal love: ‘Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our
mother’ (Galatians 4:26).
During the sixteenth century, people returned to their
mother church – either a large local church or, more often,
the nearest cathedral – for a service to offer thanks for
the 'mother Church' and to give honour to the Virgin Mary.
This emphasis seems to have died out in modern times.
In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic
servants were given a day off to visit their mother church,
usually with their own mothers and other family members. It
was often the only time that whole families could gather
together, as it might be the only day in the year that they
were allowed off. The children would pick wild flowers along
the way to place them in the church or to give them to their
mothers as gifts.
Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the
Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to
mothers. For non-churchgoers, Mother’s Day has completely
eclipsed this religious significance. Most denominations
hold a special service on this Sunday to give thanks for all
three aspects of motherhood: mother Church, the Virgin Mary
and our own mothers. It has become traditional for the
church to provide and bless small gifts, usually flowers,
for children at the service to give to their mothers.
Mothering Sunday is also known as Refreshment Sunday, from
the appointed Gospel reading of the feeding of the 5000.
Few Christian festivals can have undergone as many changes
in recent years as Mothering Sunday. Its original emphasis
on motherhood and 'mother church' eventually broadened into
a celebration of Christian families, but family life today
is quite different even from fifty years ago. Working
mothers, single parents and restructured families are almost
becoming the norm, while traditional patterns of family life
have largely disintegrated under the weight of information
technology, media influence and ease of travel. The Church
has always championed the family as part of God's created
order, but many people experience family life as anything
but positive or joyful. Inevitably they feel uncomfortable
or even offended if the liturgy rejoices in what they have
found to be painful, or if it seems to exclude them because
they cannot share the happy experiences of others. Any
Christian celebration of the family, whether on Mothering
Sunday or at some other time, must therefore be very
sensitive to those who have suffered through family or
marital breakdown, abusive treatment, inadequate parenting,
or bereavement – and not least those who, to their great
sadness, are unable to have children.
Download the Mothering Sunday poster here.
British Summer Time
Please note that BST begins on Sunday 31 March, at 2.00am to
be precise. Accordingly, please be sure to put FORWARD your
timepieces one hour, before retiring to bed on Saturday
30th, or risk being late for church!
No Greater Love
A video series for the week before Holy Week held at St
Gregory’s: if you cannot get to every session, come when you
can. The last session follows on after our combined Stations
of the Cross.
No Greater Love is the title of a study course
with a video filmed in Jerusalem to be shown each evening
(Monday to Friday) in the week before Holy Week at 7.30pm,
except on Friday when it will be shown after Stations of the
Filmed on location in the Holy Land, No Greater Love is a
five-part video series that reveals Christ’s amazing love
for us. Best-selling author Edward Sri guides us through the
last hours of Christ’s life in this biblical pilgrimage. It
walks step-by-step with Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane
to the Mount of Calvary.
Every step of the way, biblical experts reveal how Old
Testament prophecies, messianic expectations, biblical
symbolism, and historical context shed light on the mystery
of Christ’s suffering and death.
With these insights, we can come to a deeper understanding
and appreciation of God’s immeasurable and unconditional
love – drawing closer to Jesus than ever before.
Authored and presented by Edward Sri, the films show the
Biblical background to each scene in Christ’s passion and
what Jesus was going through at each moment. We see how the
Old Testament foretells Christ’s death, why Christ died for
us and what it accomplished. It shows what was the meaning
behind of the tearing of the temple veil, the crowning with
thorns, and other events during Christ’s Passion.
Most of all, we will encounter God’s love to the fullest.
Pope Benedict XVI invites us to think of the Passion, not
just as suffering, but also as the passion of a lover. For
in the cross, we see God fully revealed as “a lover with all
the passion of a true love".
Jesus doesn’t want our applause. He wants our hearts. This
will help us to draw closer to Jesus in his passion than
The Prayer of the Agony
Tuesday 9 April:
Are you the Christ?
Wednesday 10 April:
The Trial before Pilate
Thursday 11 April:
The Death of the Messiah
The Seven Last Words
Holy Week is the most important time of the Christian year.
The way in which we keep these days has long been a strength
within our parish. The liturgical provision expresses not
only the most fundamental Christian memories and the
climactic events of our Saviour’s passion, death and
resurrection, but also lays out the treasures and rich
insights of a catholic Anglican understanding and
expression. This is a time not to be missed when we recall
who and what we are as the baptised people of God. This is
our opportunity to do all we can to ensure that our Easter
joy is genuine. For posters showing details of all Holy Week
and Easter Services, please go to our Special Services
Coming Up page.
Palm Sunday - 14th
Palm Sunday has a double focus – the Triumphal Entry of
Christ into Jerusalem, and the celebration of his passion
and death. The Liturgy of the Palms and procession
contains the first commemorative actions of Holy Week which
remind us of the main events in the last week of Jesus’
ministry. Palm branches are carried, although they are
secondary to the procession itself. The procession is also
an act of praise to Christ the King who reigns and triumphs
on the cross, and it expresses our own readiness to take up
our cross and follow our crucified and risen Lord, as we go
with him to the place of suffering and death.
The practice of blessing and giving palm crosses is a well
established one with devotional value. However, in the
procession it is not as telling a symbol as the carrying of
branches whether of palm or of other trees, perhaps brought
by members of the congregation.
Central to the Liturgy of the Passion is the reading
of the Passion Gospel. On this day, the narrative comes from
either Matthew, Mark or Luke, and takes us into the heart of
Holy Week. Although the services of this week are shaped by
the historical commemoration of the events of the last week
in Jesus’ earthly life, taken together they form an extended
celebration of the victory he won over death.
The solemn reading of the narrative of the passion and death
of Jesus Christ is an essential part of the liturgy of Palm
Sunday. For this reason the full form of the Passion is
used. Coming after the procession, it reminds us that the
kingly power of Christ is the power of self-giving love
Please note that Mass begins in the Parish Centre at
9.30am from where we process to church around the
perimeter of the church grounds.
Pre Easter Confession
As is our custom at St Matthew’s, especially before the
major festivals, parishioners are given the opportunity to
avail themselves of the sacrament of reconciliation,
otherwise known as confession. The Church of England has in
fact long offered this particular ministry, a basis for
which may be found in the Book of Common Prayer. Essentially
it is our opportunity to address those matters which lie
between us and God, to unburden ourselves, receive God’s
liberating forgiveness, and priestly guidance. A leaflet
will be made available to all worshippers to help us grow in
our understanding, and prepare. Confession times this Holy
Week are as follows:
Monday 15 April at 6.00pm
Wednesday 17 April at 3.00pm
Confessions will be heard in the Lady Chapel, and penitents
are asked to come and go quietly via the north door facing
Collingwood Road, and sit in the body of the church well
away from the Chapel until the coast is clear.
Tenebrae - Wednesday 17
April at 7.30pm
Tenebrae, from the Latin word for ‘darkness’ or ‘shadows’,
is a form of the monastic Office of Vigils, originally
recited at night, combined with that of Lauds, originally
celebrated at dawn. Tenebrae took on a specific and dramatic
form when celebrated on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and
Holy Saturday. From the medieval period the whole service
was ‘anticipated’ or held on the evenings before the days in
question, beginning on the evening of the Wednesday of Holy
Week. It would be difficult nowadays to celebrate the whole
service on three successive nights. What follows, therefore,
is an adaptation that draws on material from the office of
Tenebrae to build a meditative service around three themes:
the Prayer and Agony of Jesus in Gethsemane, the Trial of
Jesus, and the Death of Jesus.
Tenebrae begins by candlelight and ends in darkness. It is
thus the inverse of the Easter Vigil, which begins in
darkness and blazes into light as a symbol of Christ’s
resurrection. As a service that traditionally accompanies
the last days of Holy Week, Tenebrae is a dark prelude to
the light of Easter, a celebration of Christ’s Passion in
anticipation of his rising from the dead.
The passage from light to darkness is brought about through
the gradual extinguishing of candles at regular points
throughout the service. Fourteen candles positioned along
the central axis of the church building are extinguished one
by one. At the end of the final reading, the fourteenth
candle is put out at the words, ‘And it was night’, and,
simultaneously, the congregation blow out their candles. A
solitary fifteenth candle is left burning, representing the
Light of Christ. This candle is symbolically ‘buried’ by
being hidden behind the High Altar, typifying the apparent
victory of the forces of evil.
The other dramatic feature of Tenebrae is the chanting of
passages from the Book of Lamentations, in which a letter of
the Hebrew alphabet introduces each verse. In the
development of the medieval services, these readings were
‘applied’ as a dramatic commentary on the betrayal, trial
and crucifixion of Jesus. Scripture readings and psalmody
alternate with responsories, which take and juxtapose short
texts to amplify similar themes.
At the very end, a loud noise is made, symbolizing the
earthquake at the time of the resurrection – ‘And suddenly
there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord,
descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and
sat on it’ (Matthew 28:2). The hidden candle is then
restored to its place, and by its light, all depart in
This most distinctive act of worship is a wonderful
preparation for the Easter Triduum, the Great Three Days.
Please do come.
Foot Washing - Thursday
18 April at 7.30pm
The Liturgy of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday evening is
a rollercoaster of emotions and intentions. One of the key
elements is the re-enactment of Christ’s example of humble
service, in washing his disciples’ feet. I invite you to
participate in this part of the liturgy by printing your
name on the sheet provided in the display area. You are
asked to sit on the end of a row adjacent to the centre
aisle; these are indicated by the provision of towels.
Please remember that feet must be bare, so ladies in
particular please come prepared!
All-night Watch at the
Garden of Gethsemane - 18-19 April from c9.00pm
I invite you to help us keep watch with Our Lord in his
sacramental presence on Maundy Thursday night and Good
Friday morning. The Watch takes place in the Lady Chapel and
begins directly after the evening liturgy and continues till
Morning Prayer on Good Friday. Mirroring Jesus’ example, we
ask that you keep watch for one hour by signing your name
against the time slots indicated on the corresponding sheet
in the display area. We also ask that, if possible, at least
TWO people are present at all times, especially during the
‘small’ hours. You are asked to come and go via the north
door facing Collingwood Road. (Please note that, for
security reasons, this door will be locked for some part of
the night, and you will therefore need to knock).
Good Friday – All Age
Stations of the Cross
At 10.30am on 19 April there will be Stations of the Cross
for all ages. This service is a moving and accessible
telling of the events of this most important and difficult
of days. Please do come, and encourage accompanied children
to do likewise.
On Holy Saturday (Easter Eve) we will be cleaning and
preparing our spiritual home for the coming festival.
Morning Prayer is at 9.00am in Quire (ALL are
welcome) and we begin our labours from c.9.20am until
lunchtime. Refreshments will kindly be provided by our
Monday Brownies and Guides. Many hands make light work!
The Easter Vigil and
Please note that the Easter Ceremonies begin at 8.00pm.