It seems we have only just started to recover from all the hectic busyness of Advent and Christmas. We're in the season of Epiphany, and here I am talking about Lent. But Lent leading to Easter is the most important season of all in the Liturgical year. We are looking forward to the resurrection of Christ, as he overcomes Satan and all his evil works. Traditionally we use the six weeks before Easter to prepare; a time of reflection and repentance. We focus upon the forthcoming crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah and, as we prepare for this, we attempt to walk alongside him in the weeks beforehand.
Lent begins immediately after Shrove Tuesday for most of us. Shrove Tuesday is derived from the word shrive which means absolve. Shrove Tuesday, was we all know, is the last Tuesday before Lent and traditionally was a day when Christians engaged in self-examination, reflecting on past sins requiring repentance and what changes they would make to their life and spiritual growth during Lent. In preparing for lent Shrove Tuesday was a day to purify and remove the foodstuffs that would not be eaten on the Lenten period. By tradition this included eggs, meat, fish, milk and sugar. It was the final beanfeast before fasting began with lent and led to the traditional pancake that we all enjoy on Shrove Tuesday!
Lent is observed around the world in many ways by Christians. Some observe a strict fast; orthodox denominations will begin by wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday and abstain from eating meat, fish and eggs until Easter Sunday. During Lent many Christians view the Sunday each week as a symbolic celebration of Christ's resurrection and instead of fasting will hold a feast. The fourth Sunday of Lent, in England, is Mothering Sunday, whilst the sixth is Palm Sunday.
Christians in other denominations will give up just one item. It may be a luxury, something that is especially liked perhaps by the believer,. Chocolate is the most popular item chosen to be given up during Lent, but meat and alcohol are also quite common choices. In order to refocus their faith, some people will give up TV, the gym or social media allowing themselves more time in which to pray and spend time reflecting on the crucifixion, on their past lives and perhaps deciding on changes they want to make in the future.
It is common throughout many of the churches to use this time to run a Lent course, where Christians will meet together to follow a common course of readings and reflections during the six weeks of Lent. Simple daily reflections and acts of generosity, putting others first are a response to the challenge that Christ offers as as we prepare for the Easter celebration.
Jesus – Lent course 2020
Wednesday 26th February sees Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time of prayer and reflection as we prepare ourselves to remember the events of Holy Week and Easter and as we think about our own Christian journey.
This year we will be running a Lent course at St John’s entitled ‘Talking Jesus’. It has been used around the circuit and provides inspiring examples of how we can share our faith. If you would like to be part of the course it will run on Wednesdays starting on 26th February from 11.30am-12.30pm and will be followed by an optional soup lunch.
Have you ever wondered how decisions about what happens in the church are made? Would you be interested in being part of the decision making process? The church is run by a group of church members, some of whom take specific roles such as treasurer or steward, but some of whom simply represent the wider congregation. We meet twice a year in addition to the Annual Church Meeting (which all members may attend) and we currently have vacancies for new members. If you would be interested in serving the church in this way, please speak to Revd Ruth or one of the stewards to find out more.
The Joy of Salvation
This ls the theme of the Morning Service at St. John's on 9th
February 2020. We shall feature the hymns of Ira D. Sankey
(1840-1906). Sankey gathered together 1200 items in ‘Sacred
Songs & Solos! He teamed up with Dwight Moody in a mission
on both sides of the Atlantic. This took place with the dark
background of slavery and civil war in the United States, and
much poverty in Victorian Britain. But Moody and Sankey
brought the ‘sunshine’ of the love of God, seen in the life of
Jesus of Nazareth, in words such as ‘When Jesus shows his
smiling face, there is sunshine in my soul’ and ‘Sowing in the
morning, sowing seeds of kindness. . waiting for the harvest. .
bringing in the sheaves.’ Sankey's work combined inspiring
messages, a call to care for others, and jaunty tunes, several of
which we shall sing on 9th February. So come, as choir and
congregation, to raise your voice — and your spirit!
Occasional help with stewarding
Would you be prepared to help the Stewards on an occasional basis on Sunday Mornings?
As the Stewards are often fulfilling more than one role – choir member, organist, Worship Leader, computer operator etc, it is becoming more difficult to find the two Stewards we need to cover Morning Worship. We are looking for people to become an assistant on an occasional, scheduled basis to help with the housekeeping side of preparation for worship.
It would entail being on the rota so that we know we are covered, and being early enough to help with putting lights on, hymn numbers, water, and helping to close down at the end. It would not involve the Welcome or other ‘Front of House’ duties. A few people for a Sunday every now and then, on a date agreed in advance would be such a help. Please speak to a Steward.
We had our busiest Christmas season so far – as I’m sure many of you did. We were blown away by the generosity of our community who donated over 9,000 items to us in Dec. We are so blessed by all who support our work both with food items but also with financial donations.
January & February are tough months for us all financially as the festive bills arrive along with the decision of putting the heating on or buying food. So please keep us in mind and donate what you can.
Just a new year re-fresher – donations can be dropped off directly to the Vineyard Centre every Mon 3pm-5pm or Fri 11am-1pm, otherwise please use our public donation points. If you want to know what items we are particularly short of or any updated news please follow us on Facebook.
Huge thanks, Storehouse
Leap Day Afternoon Tea
Last year we missed out on a church Christmas dinner or tea. Come and enjoy an afternoon tea at 3.00 pm on Saturday 29th February with sandwiches, scones jam and cream, cakes and savoury options. No charge for an afternoon of fellowship – just donations.
PS if anyone can lend us for the day tiered cake trays, please let Julie or Gill know
FINANCIAL MATTERS AND CONCERNS
At our Church Council meeting held last November, I presented to Council the independently agreed accounts of St Johns finances. These are not exclusive to Council members and are freely on display in The Link for your perusal.
Against a background of an ageing congregation (and I include myself in that) and declining membership and attendees, our income has declined over the years at the same time as our costs have risen. Consequently we are not paying our way as we should be.
In the year to 31st August 2019 we incurred a shortfall against income of over £8000. Our costs for the year amounted to £66993 – this equates to £1288 per week.
You have been very generous in your giving by way of the Autumn Fair, the Cycle Ride, the Garden Party and the Soup Lunches but in particular Gift Day and the Gift Aided offerings where the Tax Refunds amounted to almost £8000.
What has affected our income the most is the drop of almost 20% in the Offerings received.
One way to reverse this trend is by joining the Envelope Scheme whereby you have your own offertory envelope, one for each Sunday in which you place your gift to the church thus ensuring that you are giving on a regular basis. If you are a taxpayer you can Gift Aid the sums and the church can claim back the tax you have paid; this amounts to 25% of your total giving. You don’t have to be a member to join this scheme.
If you would wish to join please speak with Paul Martland who is the Church Treasurer and he will be more than happy to give you further details.
In the current financial year I am forecasting a further shortfall of £10600.
Our costs are under control apart from the Assessment (67.5% of total costs) – this is what we have to pay to the Bury St Edmunds Circuit for the provision of our minister and other costs that are levied on us. This amounts to £46000 in the current year.
We do have reserves but they will not last forever. If revenues continue to fall we will find it a struggle.
In spite of all that I have said I am grateful to you all for your generous giving in the past. If after prayerful thought you can see your way to increasing your giving in the future this would ensure that His presence here in Sudbury can be sustained.
Finally a note for your diaries – Gift Day this year will be on Saturday March 28th.
Zimbabwe Victims' Support Fund
Paul & Jane Martland have been avid supporters of ZVSF since the time they spent in Africa. Please read and digest the following prayer letter with accompanying article. A special appeal for funds to alleviate the suffering of Zimbabweans will take place on Sunday 2nd and 9th of February. Please give generously if you can.
Prayer Letter from Zimbabwe January 2020
Sounding the alarm The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) is sounding the alarm about the growing food crisis in Zimbabwe. An estimated 60 per cent of the population is now without adequate food. A severe drought is biting deeply but there can be no doubt that this is essentially a man-made disaster, caused by a toxic mix of corruption and incompetence.
The crisis is so severe that it impinges on every aspect of life for Zimbabweans. Reflecting on a bitter year a friend in Bulawayo writes, “2019 was a year marred by gratuitous violence, blatant corruption and gross incompetence, culminating in an impending famine. I won’t go into details,” she adds; “either you know about it or it will be incomprehensible.”
Zimbabwe is essentially a failed State, failing its citizens dismally. Apart from the spreading famine, water supplies and fuel are running out, and there are prolonged power outages. The number of Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa has increased dramatically as a dire shortage of foreign currency, run-away inflation and further business closures take their toll.
To give but one statistic, a loaf of bread now costs 20 times what it cost 6 months ago.
As the country moves into the peak lean season the WFP which is the lead agency is doubling the targeted number of those to receive relief food from 2 to 4 million.
Against this dark background we in ZVSF are profoundly grateful for the generous and compassionate response of our supporters, which has enabled us to increase the funding of relief food distributed by Pastor Albert and his team, now providing 20 tonnes a month. A recent text from him confirms his joy and delight in taking delivery of the maize meal plus sugar beans and bars of soap. He adds “Thank you all who sacrifice for our needy families.” Following up on the series started in our last Prayer Update you can read below – “A day in the life of an internally displaced person” - or IDP in United Nations’ speak. Please share this Prayer Update with your friends and invite any who would like to receive their own copy by email to subscribe at firstname.lastname@example.org
PRAYER UPDATE Zimbabwe Victims’ Support Fund
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSON
Rebecca (aged 35)
It is dark and my body is tired but I must get the children up for school. I wake the five girls who are in the same bed as me, and then go outside to the other room and bang on the tin door to wake up the boys.
The children dress and come outside. Simon is crying; he does not want to go to school. His shoes have no heels and other children call him names. I just shout at him and tell him he’s got to go. What else can I do?
I pour water into a basin so they can wash their faces. I say, “You must look clean even if there’s no soap.” They remember the time when the teacher sent one of them home for being dirty and they scrub hard with their hands. They leave for school. I hope they get something to eat there. If the Pastor gave the school lunch money or some porridge, they should get something. Sometimes they come home at 4 o’clock and say, “We didn’t eat food.” The little ones must wait until 3 o’clock anyway when the older children finish because it is dangerous for them to come back by themselves, and it is far.
I go back inside and pick up the baby who’s crying and feed him. I still have milk. I don’t know how, living on one plate of porridge a day. My husband, Henry (aged 40), comes in from work and goes to bed. Sometimes he gets a job as a night guard at the school but the pay is little.
Now I wash the clothes. As we have no soap I wash them with water only. Later I will go and hoe fields for other people. If I work for three days I get enough to buy 10 kgs of maize meal. When I’ve finished that job I will plant some maize. The Pastor gave us some seed. I get hungry and dizzy when I try to work. I think about food all the time.
I wish we could be back in the home that I built 14 years ago, but the police came with bulldozers and knocked it down last year. They took all our things and dumped them on the side of the road where we slept for three nights before our Pastor found us a place to stay. Now we live in two rooms made of scrap iron in a cattle kraal. We stay there for free, but we have to pay for water.
The children come home. They are fighting each other. I tell them to find wood to cook supper. They don’t want to, but if they don’t there won’t be any porridge. Our Pastor who is a real man of God brings us a small bag of maize meal every month. I don’t know what we’d do without it. I wish I had some oil and vegetables for a stew.
The sun goes down and we have no candles so we go to bed. I’m so tired I fall asleep, but hours later I wake up and I’m terrified. I can’t breathe. What is going to happen to us? Things are so bad. I pray and pray but I can’t stop feeling that I’m falling down a deep, deep hole. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and I will feel tired all over again.
Zimbabwe Victims’ Support Fund
In December Tim and I visited Noah’s Ark moored at Orwell Quay, Ipswich. The Ark is a floating museum of Bible Stories and is approximately half the size of the original. Aad Peters, the creator describes it as “ an emotional and cultural experience”.
The story begins on the fourth deck with Adam and Eve and progresses through the Old Testament featuring Cain and Abel, Moses, David and Goliath and many others. Moving into the New Testament there are scenes depicting the Nativity.
There is a vast array of carved wooden figures and growing through the centre of the Ark is a 12 metre high tree of life. You have the opportunity to fell Goliath and there are also two stuffed giraffes !
The Ark will be at the quay until early to mid February and I do urge you to visit if you possibly can. It is an amazing experience .
The Happy Newspaper
How often do we complain that the newspapers only carry bad news. I was interested this Christmas to be given a copy of The Happy Newspaper.
The Happy Newspaper celebrates all that’s good in the world; a platform to share positive news and wonderful people. The first issue launched in December 2015 thanks to 73 people who pledged towards a , which ended up reaching the target of £500 in just two days. Since then, The Happy Newspaper has been released quarterly, containing happy news which has been collected over a period of three months.
The whole thing began as a very small idea in the whirlwind brain of who began to realise the effect that the news was having on her when she was going through a difficult time herself. With a little extra help from a tiny but wonderful team The Happy News became a much bigger ‘thing’. The newspaper is still being directed, designed and illustrated by Emily in the world’s tiniest office in a little village in North West England… but has now been read by over 12,000 subscribers in 33 different countries each quarter!
Every single day there are people helping others and doing incredible things in all corners of the planet and the majority of them aren't celebrated, but we think they deserve to be recognised. We aim to bring a refreshing twist on what we typically know as 'news', reporting on positive changes and truly inspiring people.
An example of a happy news item follows:
20 years ago a trash collection man, Jose Alberto Gutierrez of Bogota, Colombia, found a copy of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in with the rubbish in one of the wealthier areas of Bogota, so he decided to rescue the book from the trash.
Jose has since collected over 20,000 books that now make up his own free library in his home in the poorer area of South Bogota – which he opens to community children at weekends. Aptly named “Strength of Words” the library provides local children with a host of reading resources and Jose hopes to inspire young minds.
Lord of the day, Lord of the night
Lord of betwixt shades, I’m held in your sight.
Lord of the sea, Lord of the land
Lord of all places, l m held in your hand.
Lord of the storm, Lord of the calm
Lord of all weather, l m held in your palm.
Lord of the Joy, Lord of the pain
Lord of all feeling, with you I'll remain. Amen.
Joy Blake, North Camp Methodist Church, Farnborough
Taken from the Methodist Prayer Handbook
Volunteers to join the Coffee Rota are needed urgently. If no more volunteers are forthcoming, it may be necessary to reduce the number of Sundays when coffee is served to possibly only twice a month.
Please let John Harris have your name if you would be prepared to help from time to time.
Jan and Daphne
Salt Shaker House Group
Jan and Daphne
Paul and Jane
Salt Shaker House Group
If you are organising an event, an activity or an appeal, please let Beverly Richardson know so that it can be advertised in good time through the weekly notices. Information can be emailed to email@example.com
The deadline for the March Herald is Sunday 16th February 2020
Any articles for the Herald would be most welcome
Please email any contribution to either Tricia Campbell - firstname.lastname@example.org or Gill Phillips - gillian.phillips @gmx.co.uk - or leave it in the tray in the Link.
Minister Rev Ruth Ridge 07447091182
Senior Steward Sue Rampling 01787 377441
Lettings Secretary Andrew Clare 01787 372705
Church Office 01787 373185
Church website: www.stjohns-sudbury.co.uk
Church email address: email@example.com