Like St Matthew's Church on Facebook

Lent 2019

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:
8 March St Matthew’s
15 March St Gregory’s
22 March St Matthew's
29 March St Gregory’s
5 April St Matthew’s
12 April St Gregory’s

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 our faith. Download the poster here as a handy reminder of the dates and please do come if you possibly can.

Lent Course
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 contemplation.

‘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 Introduction

The weekly sessions are as follows:
Session One Wednesday 13 March The cross Mark 15:6-15
Session Two Wednesday 20 March A crown of thorns Mark 15:16-20
Session Three Wednesday 27 March A seamless robe  John 19:23-25
Session Four Thursday 4 April The sins of the world Romans 5:1-11
Session Five Wednesday 10 April Our sorrows Romans 8:18-39

Download the Lent Course poster here as a handy reminder of the dates and please do come if you possibly can.

Mothering Sunday - 31 March

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 have shared.

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 Cross.

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 ever before.
Monday 8 April: 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
Friday 12 April: The Seven Last Words

Holy Week

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 April

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 alone.

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 times

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 silence.

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.

Church Cleaning

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 First Mass

Please note that the Easter Ceremonies begin at 8.00pm.


  Times of Services  

Find out what times our services are held.

  Worship Calendar  

Take a look at our worship calendar for the current month.


Special Services


Find out what special services are coming up by downloading our service posters.



Music Lists



Discover what music has been planned for the current month. You can also view music for previous months.



Weekday Scripture Readings



Step forward in your discipleship and join others in weekday scripture readings.



Healing Ministry


Learn about the theological background to the Ministry of Healing and Wholeness.


Walsingham Cell


Learn about the Parish Cell of the Society of the Holy House of Our Lady of Walsingham

    Walsingham Cell Gallery

View photos relating to the Walsingham Cell.

  Baptisms & Weddings  

Learn about Baptisms & Weddings at St Matthew's church and the Initial Enquiries Evenings that take place.



© Copyright 2019, St Matthew's Church, Northampton. All Rights Reserved.
Website Designed and Maintained by Visual Interactive

Sitemap | Cookies | Our Privacy Policy

Like St Matthew's Church on Facebook