Lent has begun, and we are on our journey towards Holy week and Easter. I have begun my
usual practice of giving up a few things - mainly chocolate and alcohol. As usual I have also
taken on a few things - some extra reading on prayer and reading through Mark’s Gospel
with everyone else at St Mary’s (if you haven’t got your copy of “Lent with Mark” pick one
up from Church).

But what is the point of it all? What is Lent all about? It is simply a religiously sanctioned
diet to burn off the extra Christmas calories, or is something else?

For me Lent is about re-setting my focus on what really matters. As we go through life with
all of is busyness and complexities it is so easy to forget what is most important. Lent is about
finding space and time to remind ourselves of that.

As I read the Bible, particularly the Gospels, what I find there is that what matters most,
what is most important in life is love. Jesus tells us to love God, to love one another, to love
our neighbours and to love our enemies. In that list is there anyone at all who is left out,
anyone that we are not called to love?

In Lent I remind myself of my primary calling in Christ - to love. I ask where I fail in this
calling, as I always do. I ask how I can be more faithful to Jesus, specifically how in practical
terms can I love God and neighbour, my brothers and sisters and even my enemies? As
always asking Christ this question comes with a warning - if we ask then Jesus will show us,
and then we have to do something about it!

So, my focus on prayer in Lent is about worship - loving God; my re-reading of the Gospel
reminds me of the extent of Jesus love and of the call to follow Him - to love as Jesus loves.

In many ways the giving up of a few luxuries is the least important part of Lent - except that
the money saved can be used to show practical love to another person or group. It can be
given to a charity or spent on items for a food bank. It could be used to give a treat to
someone.

Also, the discipline of self-denial, of saying ‘No’ to ourselves is not a bad idea. It is something
that increasingly goes against the grain of our society which more and more encourages us
to put ourselves and our desires first. Saying ‘No’ to self might be a significant step in saying
‘Yes’ to God.

Whatever you do God bless you this Lent,
Tim
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Following Jesus; Celebrating Life; Welcoming All
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Prayer for the month
Thought for the month
Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words...,  A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

According to Mark this cry was Jesus last prayer, gasped out in agony from the cross (Mark
15:34). As Jesus’ prayer from Calvary it is important, so important that Mark records the
words in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and the disciples.

It isn’t the final prayer that we expect from Jesus. It isn’t filled with confidence and hope.
Jesus’ words are from the beginning of Psalm 22, the prayer of an innocent sufferer.
Commentators sometimes point out that this Psalm begins in despair but ends in hope.
When He speaks those words is Jesus perhaps referencing the whole of the Psalm?

I don’t think so. I believe that Jesus was in such agony and desolation at this point that He
simply spoke from the heart to the Father, even though He believed that He had been
abandoned by the same Father. The words of the psalms came to Him because He was so
familiar with them; the psalms were Jesus prayer book.

The words seem to be a cry of defeat and despair. But they take us to the heart of the Cross
and its meaning for us. What we must not lose sight of as we read Jesus’ prayer is who it is
who prays these words. It is Jesus, the Beloved Son of the Father; the one who is God with us
and God for us.

In this prayer we see what it means to be ‘God with us;’ we see that Jesus is God with us in
the depths of pain and despair. We see that in those moments of life when we feel abandoned
even by God, that God in Jesus is with us. Jesus is the crucified God; the God who knows
from the inside what it is to feel abandoned and deserted by the Father. In Jesus God
becomes abandoned and forsaken to reach the abandoned and forsaken

Jesus’ prayer shows us the cost of His love for us. It also encourages us to know that there is
nothing at all that can ever separate us from the love of God. In Jesus God suffered death and
hell and loss and abandonment for us. This is how much we are loved by God. This is the
meaning of Good Friday and Easter Day. A love that is with us in the depths; a love that is
stronger than death itself. This is the Father’s love for us seen in Jesus.
Amen.
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First Words
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  • First Words, Prayer for the Month and Thought for the Month have been
    updated for March 2018- see below
  • We have added a New Burial Records Page  covering over 6000 individuals
    interred in the St Mary's Section of Ecclesfield Cemetery from 1875 onwards
  • Parish Magazine the March 2018 issue is now available On-Line see:
  • Forthcoming Events Page updated with new events...
  • Bishop's Letter - A brief biography to date of Pete Wilcox the new Bishop of
    Sheffield
  • Listen again to recently recorded Sunday Sermons -  Listen Again
  • Have a look at some interesting and thought provoking videos - Viral Videos
  • The  Diary and Rotas  page now has on-line features and will always be 'up-to-date'
  • Don't forget to check the Weekly Notices page for service times and the latest
    news.
  • Free Wi-Fi available in church for those who need to be 'connected'
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There are two things which are the main focus of events in Church for March.

Firstly, the work on the roof will begin on the
28th of February and will continue for at least
twenty weeks. There will be disruption and we will be asking for help in tidying up before
the weddings, funerals and Sunday services which will be continuing during the period of
the works.

We have planned a celebration service on
Sunday 23rd September at 6.30pm to give
thanks for the work on the roof and the grants that have made it possible. The service will be
led by our new Diocesan Bishop Pete Wilcox and we will be inviting the architect,
representatives of Heritage Lottery and the contractors who worked on our roof. Put the date
in your diary!

The other significant event in March is of course Lent and Holy Week.
I am encouraging everyone at St Mary’s to read through Mark’s Gospel. There is a Lent
course every
Wednesday evening at 7.30pm in Church looking at themes in Mark’s
Gospel:

21st Feb, Introducing Mark and his Gospel.        
28th Feb, Following Jesus: Peter and the Disciples in Mark.        
7th March, “Who then is this?” Jesus’ miracles in Mark.                
14th March, Parables of Kingdom and conflict.
21st March, “Who do you say that I am?”
28th March, The Cross and Passion of the Son of God.

If you can’t make every session don’t worry - just come along to the ones that you can make.

Holy Week begins with
Palm Sunday (25th March). In the evening there is a special choir
event featuring great hymns by Watts, Wesley, Moody and Sankey. Look out for more
information.

On
Maundy Thursday (29th March) there will be a Eucharist at 7pm to mark Jesus last
supper, followed by a prayer vigil. On
Good Friday (30th March) we will keep Three
Hours at the Cross from 12 noon to 3pm. Our Easter Day celebration is on
Sunday 1st
April.

One other event to highlight in March is that on
Saturday 17th March there is a Prayer
Ministry training day’ 9.30am-4pm at Wadsley Parish Church, led by John and Anne Coles
of New Wine. It is highly recommended. If you would like to go, please contact Wadsley
Church.

God bless, Tim
Twitter - keep in touch with Tim Gill @RevTimGill
MAJOR HISTORICAL
SHEFFIELD CHURCH
AWARDED NATIONAL
LOTTERY SUPPORT
St. Mary’s Church, Ecclesfield, a Grade 1 listed building, has received confirmation
of a grant of £220,000 for major repairs to the church roof and the installation
of a state of the art security system.
Click here to read the full Press Release
Facebook - keep in touch with Tim Gill