My dear friends,
Well, I’m now here as the new chaplain,
Bishop Robert has given me his license and Archdeacon Paul has with gentle encouragement put me into my ‘stall’. The interregnum is over and my locum tenancy is finished. My first chaplain’s letter comes as the Christmas season ends, we look forward to Lent, Holy Week and Easter, and Ash Wednesday is upon us. A new chapter in the Church’s year and a new epoch for the Anglican Church in Twente, which we eagerly embrace together in faith, hope and love, in gratitude to those who have gone before us!
We are first and foremost a worshipping community, praising God whom we know primarily in his self-revelation in Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit. From this grow all our other duties; never a chore, always a joy. Here we might reflect a little on how we live out our faith. Christmas is the easier part, with all its lyrical carols and songs, the bells, the lights and the feasting, even mistletoe and wine. Now the harder bit; the sombre mood change, where Holy Mother Church takes off her resplendent crown to replace it with sackcloth and ashes, calling us to penance and recognition of the necessity of Christ’s blood, given for our redemption and salvation.
Now we are forced to ask ourselves how committed we are. Ash Wednesday is the Church’s solemn call to keep the season of Lent. Dear friends, with each other’s support and in the love of Our Lord, we accept this call, with those preparing for baptism or confirmation at Easter, recalling our own baptism as we enter this special time of prayer and deep personal reflection. Lent is not simply a time of personal devotion and renewal, but a time of community renewal as we determine to renew hearts and souls together. Ashes will be blessed and put on our foreheads, opening this season of our sorrow, but also a season of the infinite and compassionate mercy of God. Already, we know that these symbolic ashes of anguish will be washed away in the new waters of the Easter liturgy.
I look forward to sharing the weekly Eucharist with you all, committed to be with the family of St Mary’s Weldam whenever we can; appreciating and absorbing together the poetic language of the liturgy. The language of liturgy, like the language of faith can be so much more than the language of overly defined words and theological arguments of division and partisan dogmatism. We all know how much easier it is to accommodate our own foibles; less so those of others. Let us rejoice in the matters of faith we share, and be gentle with those of our neighbours in Christ. Let us each take pleasure in the worship of our God made known in our hearts and intellect, our emotions, reason and our souls.
God bless you all.
Love, Fr. B.