Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: February Magazine.
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Christian faith is a faith of fresh starts and they are plastered all over the Bible from beginning to end. Think of Noah and Abraham as a fresh start for humanity; the Exodus from Egypt as a fresh start in the Promised Land; Nehemiah as a fresh start after the Exile. Having just finished Advent, we’ll be aware of the text from Isaiah which, pointing to Jesus, says: ‘A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him’. God’s people are described as a tree who, as a result of their failures to listen to God, have been chopped down. However, that is not the end of the story, for Isaiah sees a time when from the tree stump which is left, a branch will grow. A fresh start which materialises at the first Christmas with the birth of the Child, the flourishing of a new branch, Who will bear much fruit. What follows at the end of the Gospels, of course, is the fresh start to trump all fresh starts, as Jesus walks out of the tomb: Resurrection! Even that, however, is not the end of fresh starts in the Scriptures as at the end, after a whole number of individual fresh starts for all who follow Jesus, the world is given a final fresh start in the new heaven and new earth described in the Book of Revelation. Fresh starts indeed from beginning to end.
Over the past few years, St George’s has experienced its’ own set of fresh starts. The pandemic stopped us in our tracks and much like the felling of a tree all our activities ceased. However, out of that dark time a branch grew, a fresh start was offered. Some things, like our 8am service, did not return, however, much restarted and indeed new things have grown. Our new Vigil service for teens and young families (Saturdays at 6pm in the Church Hall), and for All Saints’ their recently launched Closer service (Sundays at 4pm), are examples of resurrection, of fresh starts, taking place in our parish. God has not given up on humanity, He has not given up on Chorley, He has not given up on St George’s… from the ashes new shoots have risen. Such fresh shoots give us much to be thankful for, much to pray for, and much to put our time and money into. Please do spread the word about these new services and pray that God uses them to bring people to faith in Him.
February, this year, sees the beginning of Lent and our pilgrimage to Easter; a yearly opportunity for a fresh start. The Church encourages us to set aside all which is broken within ourselves, all which holds us back from life in all its fullness, and to bring those things to the Lord for forgiveness and to receive a fresh start. I hope you have time to reflect on what you might give up and what you might take up for Lent so that you come out forty days later into Holy Week a person who is closer to God, and more aware of His presence with you. Then, entering the darkness of Jesus’ final days, you will be better placed to fully celebrate of Jesus’ glorious resurrection: the fresh start which enables all others.