It doesn't seem that long ago that we were all preparing for Christmas, but the Church year is gearing itself for moving into the season of Lent, the time of year when we reflect on our own relationships with God. Many of us choose something to give up during Lent, by denying ourselves something, we are able to remind ourselves of all the good things that we are able to enjoy. By giving things up, we are also able to remember that in life we need to focus our attention on spiritual, rather than material, things. Many of us also choose to take something up during Lent instead, such as praying the Lord's Prayer every day, reading the Bible more, or devoting a bit more time in our busy lives to God during the week. Whatever it is that we choose to do, whether we choose to give or take something up, the season of Lent is a good time for us to recharge our spiritual batteries and to reconnect ourselves with God.
In our daily lives, it can sometimes be a struggle to find and make time for God. Much of us have many things to do, whether looking after loved ones and family, or going to work, or whatever it may be. The Church has, for many centuries, encouraged those who feel called to a life of prayer and the religious life to move away from the hectic world to find time to pray and worship from the quietness of the cloister. But we are not all monks and nuns and find ourselves in the midst of busy lives! The calling to a religious life is a special calling, but we can still be inspired by those living the monastic life to devote a small part of our daily lives, however small, to God.
This year, the North Chiltern Group of Churches (of which St. Mary's Eaton Bray and All Saints' Dagnall are a part) is running a Lent Course which will be exploring the world of another kind of spiritual being devoted to the praise and worship of God: the angels.
Angels are very dear to my heart. As well as being a priest in the Church of England and an Associate Minister at St. Mary's, I also engage in academic research and the study of angels in Judaism, Christianity and Islam has been a focus of my work for a number of years.
Angels are fascinating creations of God and they appear in many guises: as beings announcing the news of the birth of a special, just as we remembered over Christmas in the appearance of Gabriel to Mary in the story of Jesus's birth; as beings with strange supernatural features worshipping God in heaven, as we can see in the prophecies of Isaiah and Ezekiel; and as beings who explain the mysteries of heaven, which we can see Gabriel doing in the visions of heaven that the prophet Daniel had. During the Lent Course we will be exploring many of these aspects of angels in the Bible, but we will also be exploring the way in which we can model our own spirituality on the life and worship of angels. I am really looking forward to being able to share some of my own insights into the depictions of angels in the Bible.
The course will be running on Tuesdays from 20th February - 19th March 2024 in Kensworth Church Hall, starting at 7.30pm and lasting around 75 minutes. We begin with tea, coffee and biscuits and end with a short period of prayer. Please do consider coming along, it would be great to see you there.
Rev'd Stephen Burge
About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.