The Lay Reader's Letter (written by Gordon Gray) extends the tradition of the Vicar's Letter which has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Lay Reader's Letter

March 2010

Have you given up anything for Lent? These days we take it for granted that there will be plenty of food for us to purchase; but this wasn't always the case. Not so many years back there would have been relatively little food to be had during the months of February, March and April - three months in which most families would have gone hungry. So, with little food available, the period of Lent, which coincides with these three months was naturally a period of fasting and abstinence.

It was right and proper that the church should encourage wealthy members of the community to undergo a similar period of fasting if only to show some sympathy with the poor of the parish.

But what is the relevance of giving up things for Lent today? Maybe it would do us no harm for a few weeks to live on a reduced diet, after all about 85% of the world's population eats less in a week than many of us do in a day and I can certainly see the logic in not eating chocolate for a few weeks, in readiness for the gluttony to come at Eastertide.

But at St Mary's we are taking a different approach to Lent this year. Instead of giving something up for Lent we are going to take a positive approach and do something, or somethings, that we might not otherwise do. Our world can be a diffi cult and fearful place. It's all too easy to feel we are powerless to make a difference. But the truth is, with God's help, we can change the world for good a little bit every day. Each of us can be the source of the change we want to see in the world.

How? By the little choices we make, such as: being kind to others, making time for quiet and fun, sharing what we have. "Those who are rich in the things of this life are to do good, be rich in good works, be generous and be ready to share." (1 Timothy 6.18.)

So here are a selection of the little things we are going to try to do this Lent; none of them are too demanding. Why not join in and help do your part to transform your world this Lent.

  • Think of 3 different blessings every day and be thankful
  • Say something kind about someone behind their back
  • Give up your place in a queue to someone else
  • Skip a meal and give the money you have saved to a charity
  • Make a list of the things you want to say sorry to God for - then destroy it
  • Leave a pound coin in a shopping trolley or somewhere else so it may be found
  • Do a chore or errand for a member of your household
  • Buy a coffee and give it to someone else
  • Have a TV free evening and do something with your household instead
  • Use a 'buy one get one free' and give one away
  • Half the world lives on less than £1.40 a day. Can you?
  • Have coffee or lunch with someone you don't know very well
  • Buy something from a charity shop and reverse haggle
  • Contact a family member or friend you haven't seen for a while
  • Pick up some litter
  • Polish someone's shoes for them

And when Lent is over:

  • Let's celebrate Easter together - Alleluia.

-- Gordon Gray, Reader, St Mary's Eaton Bray

After the rigours of Lent we look forward to Easter Day. Resurrection Day. Death is dead. We need never die if we are "in Christ", as St.Paul puts it. Of course, one day, we will stop breathing. Yet, for the Christian, it need only be a sleep from which we can wake up.

Early followers of Jesus didn't speak of death. He refers to it as "sleep" or "rest" (Luke 8:52). Yet, Jesus died: Yes, but God raised Him from the dead. All who trust in, and are loyal to Him can live with Him for ever.

Easter Day means that dying, death, with all its terrifying accompaniments are a drop-out from a pagan dictionary. For, eternal death has no meaning for the Christian. Unthinkable when we keep faith with Jesus Christ though our baptism, prayers, worship; in receiving the Christ-fi lled sacrament of Holy Communion, and in our service to all His children.

Warning: We should not be misled by faithless fears of this generation. Massive monuments and expensive inscriptions are mere make-up for the face of our dear departed. An excessive attachment to the place of burial is an attempt (although an understandable one ) to keep the person's infl uence and memory alive on this earth. I think that it was George Fox who declared a churchyard to be one of the emptiest places on God's earth.

When we minister to the needs of others; obey the command to receive the Sacrament of our Lord's Body and Blood we are nearer to our departed loved ones than we could ever have been in this life. Here, the fi nality of death is drop out from Satan's last gasp.

Easter Day announces to us that to keep faith with the living Christ is to have defeated death in our own life. "Death where is your victory?"

May this Easter be a blessing to us all.

-- John Heffer

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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 area for these.