Weekly Newsletter, 15 February 2024

Dear St Mary’s, 

It was lovely to gather together last Sunday as Revd Tim Scott invited us to create ‘a castle of stillness’, and it was a gift to mark Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent yesterday with beautiful reflections from Rebecca Branch. 

Join us on 18 February for the First Sunday in Lent as Revd Alan Moss leads and presides, and Rob Duddridge, our licensed lay minister, preaches. We’ll share Holy Communion at both the 9am and 10.30am services. There will also be supervised groups for children aged 2-11 at the 10.30am service.

There is evening prayer at 6pm in the church with time for Bible study and reflection. 

Join us this Sunday (18/2) for the ‘No Faith In Fossil Fuels’ Vigil in Westminster, 1-3pm 

Yesterday, the ‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’ pray vigil began. People from charities, churches and campaigning groups have all committed to keep a constant presence of prayer outside Parliament for 10 consecutive days, seeking to raise awareness of the damage and injustice caused by climate change and to call for change. We have booked two slots on Sunday 18 February: 1pm-2pm and 2pm-3pm. A group will be going straight from church for the 1pm slot and others will follow. This is a great way to meet others in the church and to take prayerful action on things we care about. Sign up here.

Church Lunch: Sunday 3 March

One of the great joys of being in the renewed St Mary’s has been the opportunity to gather after a service and eat together. On Sunday 3 March, you’re invited to lunch after our 10.30am service. We’re keeping it simple in Lent and suggesting that we share some bread and soup. If you are able to bring soup to share, or are happy to bring bread, please sign up here.

Join our extended worship team: workshop and rehearsal dates

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to play worship music or lead singing in church, good news! We’re gearing up for the first extended worship opportunity of 2024, and as always, Jonnie Barrow will be hosting a workshop and a rehearsal prior to the next extended worship session.

This is for new and returning musicians alike to come along and make music that glorifies God in a relaxed, collaborative setting. The workshop will take place on the evening of 20 February and the rehearsal on the evening of 26 February; both sessions will take place at 7:30pm in St Mary’s. Please email Jonnie at  if you would like to participate or even if you’d like to be involved at some point but not necessarily this month.

Join our Good Friday choir

Did you sing in our Christmas choir? Or maybe you wanted to but didn’t get the chance? There’s another opportunity to join a wonderful community choir, this time singing ‘Seven Last Words from the Cross’, composed by our very own Jonathan Rathbone. We’ll sing this piece on Good Friday at 7.30pm in St Mary’s, with rehearsals on the three Fridays beforehand. Sign up here.

Looking to serve in St Mary’s? 

Serving on a team is a great way to connect with others in church and build a sense of belonging. We are looking for people to join: 

• Children’s ministry and youth work teams 

• Coffee and welcome team

• Prayer and intercessions team 

If you think you would like to be part of one of these teams, please email any member of the clergy (Vanessa, Alan, Tim or Jacintha) and we would love to talk to you about how you can be involved. 

EcoTip of the Week 

Did you know that alongside our churchyards, we also have a community garden in the Welcome Centre? A group of lovely people gardens there each week, using sustainable, permaculture methods, growing food for the Food Cycle meal which takes place every Thursday in the Welcome Centre, and encouraging others to learn about gardening, biodiversity and food growing. You are always welcome to join on Sunday afternoons from 1-4pm in the Welcome Garden behind the Welcome Centre. 

Please pray 

  • Please pray for the people of Gaza, especially those being evacuated from Rafah and those without homes and shelter 
  • Please pray for Israel/Palestine, for a just and peaceful end to conflict 
  • Please pray for Ukraine, for protection from further violence and an end to war
  • Please pray for Sudan and all those suffering both from the horror of conflict and from famine
  • Please pray for the Jewish community in Britain facing rising anti-semitism, for all who are fearful – pray that they may know safety and friendship 
  • Please pray for all on half-term and all in need of rest 
  • Please pray for those in our congregation and those known to us who are unwell and those who are grieving 
  • Please remember the families of Arthur and Amelia whose funerals took place in church today 
  • Please pray for all those gathering for our Lent course, in Gospel pairs and on our Everyday Healing course in the coming weeks 


Some months ago, I learnt about a phenomenon used by both elite athletes and those recovering from injury. It’s called motor imagery and it involves the use of someone’s imagination to bring about either better sporting performance or recovery in some form. This phenomenon has been extensively researched and found to produce results. If someone thinks about a physical goal, imagines it, ponders it, visualises it, studies have found that they have been able to increase muscle strength by up to 24%. 

Interestingly, it’s not that the act of imagining is strengthening your muscle fibre but that the process of thinking about it enables us to access muscle fibre that was previously dormant and so our bodies respond and move with greater strength. 

Lent is a season in which we open ourselves up to a period of deeper reflection and study. There are many ways to approach this – from the classic renunciation of something (chocolate, coffee, social media) to the study of a particular book, the joining of a group. It may be that you want to pray differently in this season or to commit to attending more regularly. 

One of my favourite phrases to repeat at this time comes from former Archbishop Rowan Williams, who says that Lent is a season to ‘sweep and clean the rooms of our hearts in order to make room for the joy of Easter’. I love this image of making space, of stretching our capacity to encounter God and deepening our joy at the resurrection when it comes. 

In St Paul’s letter to the Romans, he writes: ‘Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. ‘ And I wonder how the lessons from motor imagery might speak to our spiritual lives. How might our times of prayer and meditation, our imagination for who we are as people, our hopes to change or grow, our desire to love and serve – how might that be something which actually has the capacity to change us. 

Perhaps, this Lent, the quiet five minutes you steal in a morning, the moment at the bus stop when you don’t reach automatically for a phone, the stillness at communion or the time you spend in prayer – might be the time where you are accessing more muscle fibre to strengthen you in faith, to make more room for God. 

I pray you will have a blessed Lent, however you mark it. I pray we will each be able to sweep and clean the rooms of our hearts in ways which can prepare us, guide us and encourage us and bless the world around us. May we, as the words of Ash Wednesday exhort us, turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ. 

With love, 


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