The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Joy Cousans, Vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since June 2017
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Vicar's Letter

March 2023

Reverend Joy Cousans, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about Sally Wainwright's brilliant police drama 'Happy Valley'. Starring Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood, a no nonsense police officer, the series is set in Hebden Bridge and the surrounding area of West Yorkshire. I enjoyed it not just because of the absorbing story lines, but also because the area is familiar; my previous parish was in West Yorkshire. Part of the debate about 'Happy Valley' concerned the BBC's decision not to release the programmes on i-Player until after their screening on TV. Western society encourages instant gratification and part of that trend is binge watching programmes. Some people were infuriated by the need to wait a whole week until the next episode! But this policy engendered debate and anticipation- in fact it was just like the old days, having to wait to find out what happens next. Called deferred gratification by sociologists, this is 'an ideological principle which encourages individuals and groups to postpone immediate consumption or pleasure in order to work, train, invest, or gain in some other way an enhanced return at a future date.' (from A Dictionary of Sociology)

The notion of deferred gratification is central to most world religions. The reward of the afterlife for a life spent well on earth is one example. Christianity also emphasises character development over a lifetime, growing more Christ like, embracing the values of the kingdom of God. At particular times in the Christian calendar, people are encouraged to take time to reflect on their growth in faith and holiness. Lent, the 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter (excluding Sundays) is one such time. 40 is a significant number in the Bible. The 40 days of Lent reflect the 40 days which Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness at the start of his ministry. This was an important time for him when he was tested and tempted but the Gospel writers tell us he was 'without sin'. The church encourages Christians to mark Lent by making a 'line in the sand'. Isabelle Hamley writes: 'The fact that we do this together, rather than on our own, reminds us that it isn't just our personal lives that need transforming, but that of our communities, countries and entire world. On Ash Wednesday, and in Lent, we lament the brokenness of the whole world, its sin, its inequality and injustice, and we long for God's intervention to come and teach us what justice, peace and freedom truly look like,' (From 'Live Lent Embracing Justice')

You would be most welcome to join us at St Mary's, Eaton Bray for any of our services on Ash Wednesday, and during Holy Week. Our Easter Day Communion will be a celebration service and everyone is invited to come along. There will be an Easter egg hunt for children in the churchyard after the service.

  • Ash Wednesday 22 February 10am Holy Communion with ashing.
  • Palm Sunday 2 April 8am Holy Communion; 10am Blessing of palms, Procession & Eucharist (assemble by the Village Hall behind the church)
  • Wednesday 5 April 10am Holy Communion; 8pm Tenebrae Service
  • Maundy Thursday 6 April 8pm Eucharist followed by Prayer Vigil
  • Good Friday 7 April 11am - 1pm Messy Church in Eaton Bray Village Hall; 2pm 'An hour at the Cross' (Devotional Service)
  • Easter Day 9 April 10am Sung Eucharist with Easter Egg Hunt

All Saints', Dagnall

  • Good Friday 7 April 3pm 'The Way of the Cross' (service of reflection)
  • Easter Day 9 April 10.30am Family Communion Service

With all good wishes for a holy Lent and a happy Easter,

Rev'd Joy Cousans, Vicar of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough

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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.