Dear friends
It was lovely to see so many of you at our Ash Wednesday service in Cricket Malherbie yesterday morning, and also at the online service in the evening.  Lent is a period of spiritual discipline and self-inspection – a time of preparation for Easter.  The traditional ‘ashing’ that happens on Ash Wednesday (marking a cross from ash on ones forehead) represents that recognition that our life is in Christ – and that without Christ we are nothing.  ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return; turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ’.  Those are the words we hear as those ashes are marked on us.
When I got home at lunch time yesterday we had a short prayer time as a family and ‘ashed’ each other.  After lunch Michelle went off to Tesco with the kids to do some shopping, and Andrew suddenly realised that that meant they would be seen with their marks!  “Mummy – the people in the shop will look at you and say ‘why have you got that mark on your head?'”  To which Michelle replied, “and I will say because it is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent and the mark shows I am following Jesus”.
In the Gospel of John, when Jesus is talking to the disciples after the Last Supper, he predicts that Peter will deny knowing him.  He talks to them all about the challenges that lie ahead; persecutions, wars, hatred, pain, death; but also of the joys and love that will be experienced through perseverance in faith and love of God.  Jesus commands the disciples to love another, and in the face of hatred to remember that ‘before you were hated, they hated me first’.  Jesus is preparing the disciples not just for his own death, but theirs also.  A death to an old way of life, giving way to the birth of a new.  That really is what Lent is about.  Jesus asks Peter, but is also asking all of us; 
“Will you lay down your life for me?”
Over the coming weeks of Lent, do not be afraid to speak of your faith.  Carry it with boldness and pride.
Last night, in the online service, Rev’d Michelle read us a poem she has written this week for Ash Wednesday:
Dust is everywhere. 
Formed from waste and unwanted things, polluting land and air.
Dust does fill our skies, 
In places that are dry, where smoldering ashes rise. 
Dust found on the ground, 
Where foot prints of refugees can be found.
Dust, ashes, blood and dirt
Where wars are raging and people hurt.
Dust, covering, hiding 
Stopping us from knowing love abiding. 
Dust, which God has given breath, 
Gives us hope when war and death, 
Are raging around us, 
where there is strife, 
Our God comes down and brings us life. 
Rev’d Michelle Butcher
Our Lent course this year is called ‘Approaching the Cross’.  It is a 5 week course exploring how we embrace the Cross.  The first session is looking at the different crosses we see and what we understand from them.  At 7:30pm every Tuesday for about an hour in the church rooms at St John’s, Tatworth.  ALL welcome!
Session 1:  7:30pm Tuesday 8th March – St John’s
During Lent we will also be running TEZ again.  This is an online evening service of reflection, music and meditation.  It will echo the themes of the Lent course, but is a prayer space rather than a study session.  Starting from Thursday 10th March.
TEZ – Thursday Evenings at 7:30pm from 10th March:
Lent Lunch:
St Stephen’s, Winsham, are hosting a Lent Lunch in the Jubilee Hall in Winsham on Wednesday 9th March at 12pm.
In combination with Ash Wednesday, we took part in the Global day of prayer for those caught up in the conflict in Ukraine.  All of our churches have got prayer stations dedicated to that cause in them, and are open during the day, for you to visit and use.  Thank you to everyone for assisting in making that possible.
On Saturday from 10am there will be tea, coffee and cakes in St Mary’s, Thorncombe, with all proceeds going towards aid for those in need in Ukraine.  
Geraldine Wills played a lovely rendition of the Ukraine National Anthem at the end of Evening Prayer in Chaffcombe on Sunday – thank you.  My apologies for completely forgetting the second hymn!
Sunday 6 March
8am – Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion – Forde Abbey; Rev’d Philip
10am – Holy Communion – Winsham; Rev’d Michelle
10am – Morning Worship – Tatworth; Mary Dewar
Wednesday 9 March
11am – Holy Communion – Tatworth; Rev’d Michelle
We continue to hold the situation in Ukraine in our prayers, all those involved in that conflict, and all those living in fear.
Please hold the following people from our parishes in your prayers:
Dave and Terri Boyland; Sheila Clement; John and Wendy Cotton; Hannah Knott; Mary Marsh; Tony Taylor; Rosemary Walton; Margaret Bandy; Dorothy White
We also remember Helen Miller whose ashes were interred at St Michael’s Chaffcombe on Tuesday, and pray for her husband Stuart and all her family and friends.  
A Prayer in Lent:
Almighty God,
you have given your only Son to be for us
both a sacrifice for sin
and also an example of godly life:
give us grace
that we may always most thankfully receive
these his inestimable gifts,
and also daily endeavour
to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Reverend Philip Butcher
Rector – Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)
The Vicarage
3 Home Farm
TA20 2SH
01460 221286
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