By Revd Vanessa Conant, Rector of St Mary’s and the Parish of Walthamstow
Tomorrow (2/3) is Ash Wednesday and St Mary’s will hold two services in the Welcome Centre: a morning Holy Communion service with the imposition of ashes at 7.30am, and an identical service later that evening at 7.30pm.
Ash Wednesday is a beautiful, solemn service where all are invited to receive a cross of ashes on their forehead accompanied by the words, ‘remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.’
It is a very visual, visceral experience where we face our own mortality and commit ourselves to walking the path of Jesus Christ, a way that leads to fulness of life.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent – 40 days that lead up to Easter and during which we are invited to mark time differently. It doesn’t mean we overwhelm ourselves with additional responsibility, but that we try, for a short period, to think about how we might deepen our faith and to reflect on our lives, and who we are, and how we might become more like Jesus.
You might think about how you will privately and corporately mark Lent. One way is to read a book like the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2022 (‘Embracing Justice’ by Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley).
You might also choose to commit to one or more of the following:
Gospel Pairs: Many people say they struggle to read the Bible, either to find time or to know how to do it. Gospel pairs is a great, relaxed way to study a book of the Bible with one other person. Over six sessions, pairs read Luke’s Gospel, meeting at a convenient time to discuss what they are learning. There’s no commitment beyond the six sessions, but some groups enjoyed it so much last year that they have continued to meet. This is also a great way to meet others and have a deeper sense of belonging to St Mary’s. You can asked to be paired with a specific person if preferable. Register here.
Lent Pilgrimages: Join us through Lent as we explore the Parish of Walthamstow through the lens of prayer and scripture. Our Walthamstow Lent Pilgrimage provides six walks that encourage you to take time out from the busyness of life, to pause and reflect, and to spend time listening. Everything you need is in the booklet, which is linked below (you can also pick up a printed copy of this booklet at the Welcome Centre during Lent). Walthamstow Pilgrimage Booklet
‘Lent at Home’: We’ve updated our ‘Lent at Home’ resources this year; they include a video reflection, a prayer and a simple activity that will help you navigate the Lenten season either as an individual or as a family. Sign up here to receive the ‘Lent at Home’ resources.