Monthly Archives: February 2023

Lent 1 – Faithfulness – February 26th 2023

Lent 1 – Faithfulness

Romans 5:12-19 and Matthew 4:1-11

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, grow in us the fruit of your spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Amen

Today in our considering of the fruit of the Spirit, St Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians, we are thinking about the fruit of faithfulness. Faithfulness means lasting loyalty and trustworthiness in relationships, the fact or quality of being true to our word or commitments. It is being dedicated and steadfast in performing our duty, working for a cause, and sticking to a fact or belief in the face of challenge.

Faithfulness is a quality we best recognise in God’s love for us. The hymn writer we probably best associate with this word is Thomas Obadiah Chisholm – who wrote the hymn – Great is thy faithfulness (this is number 186 in our hymn books and you might like to turn to look at the words now). Pause. Much of this hymn is an expression of God’s faithfulness throughout his life. Thomas wrote it though his life had many difficulties and disappointments, and he had long term poor health, as well as all the ordinary ups and downs of life that we all face.

This hymn is based on well known Bible verses, we find in the Old Testament book of Lamentations and are often said at the start of funerals – The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness (3:22-23).

The hymn begins: Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. – This reminds us of God’s reliability and his unchanging nature – God who keeps his promise of unwavering love and mercy, whatever our circumstances.

The verse continues: Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. This shows us how the natural world around us witnesses to God’s creative and ever present love for us.

The final verse says: Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Of this verse Mel Eyeons said – it reflects on how God has come to us and remains with us through all the joys and sorrows of our lives, however big or small they might be, giving us hope, joy and strength. We can be comforted and encouraged by knowing that our sins are forgiven, that we are loved and understood, that God is with us in our struggles and understands what human life is like. And each day we’re supported, helped and blessed by our steadfast God.

Our faith is based on this dependable relationship – we learn to be confident in the presence of  God – who does not change or go away. We realize that when other signposts and landmarks have been taken away and the going gets tough, there is a presence that does not let us go. This presence is God in the person of the Holy Spirit. This as an expression of faithulness is how Archbishop Rowan Williams understands it.

It involves not relying on our own resources or our own capacity to master all knowledge about God, but that we can be mastered by God’s truth in our life (and that sense of God). We can be held even when we don’t feel we have anything to hold on too.

The faith we proclaim as Christians needs to be not just a clever system of beliefs. Creedal statements can be helpful to remind us of the width, breadth and depth of God’s love for us – but that is not all there is. This possibility of a deeply dependable relationship quite beyond ourselves and our experience of human relationships is key to faith and faithfulness.

To live our faithfulness in our day to day lives, we need to point quite simply to the God who does not let go, the Christ who does not run away and the presence of the Holy Spirit with us in every step. In our exercise of faithfulness, we need to be dependable people ourselves in response to our dependence on God. People who are in a dependable relationship with God, are there for others in a unique way and in turn this enables us to reveal what it is to have faith in the one who doesn’t let go.

Faith and faithfulness are possible based on our unique dependable relationships with God.  We are drawn into it by God, and we are summoned to embody it and offer it out as Jesus followers, and encouraged by the Holy Spirit working in us to be dependable in our relationships too.

In our familiar gospel reading today, Jesus in the wilderness stuck to his principles – walked the walk of faith in God, and embodied and offered faithful responses. In the face of the offers from the tempter based on relieving his great hunger, abusing his power and being worshipped, he kept to his walk of faith – his dependence on God first.

God through the power of the Spirit can work on the fruit of faithfulness in us naturally as we live acknowledging God’s faithful and everlasting love for us. I want to conclude these thoughts with an answer to a question given by Archbishop Rowan Williams in St Paul’s Cathedral at a talk he gave. Spend a moment thinking what our answer to that question would be, and I will end with reading us Rowan’s answer.  The question was – Who is Jesus for you?


John 21:25 But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen


Answer from St Paul’s Cathedral by Rowan Williams.

Fruit of the Spirit – Mel Eyeons – Reflections on growing in Christ 2019 Eltisley Books.

Rowan Williams being disciples – essentials of the Christian life. 2016 SPCK and at talk given at St Paul’s Cathedral

The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible © (1989/1995) – Song reproduced under 217043 for St Peter and St Paul’s Church Wincanton

Ash Wednesday – Self Control – Rev Alison Way – 22nd February 2023

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, John 8:1-11

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit Amen

Our marking of Ash Wednesday has very distinct characteristics and allows us a longer time clearing the decks and scrutinizing our lives in the sight of God. Owning our sins, confessing them and then allowing the forgiveness of God to fortify us for the journey of preparation to Easter a healthy Lent requires. The ash crosses depict how seriously we are taking this and our reliance on God’s forgiveness and love for us, and a determination to walk on from this day with hope in our hearts. Based on the love won for us on the cross and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, and change us from the inside out!

It is this aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work changing us from that inside out that brings about spiritual fruit in us. This lent we are going to particularly major upon this. Looking at how the Spirit can and does work in us to bring change about in us. The fruit are first described in St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. They are initially described as a holy counterbalance to a list of vices described as works of the flesh. These works of the flesh are the kind of thing that can overtake us when we let other things get the better of us (those devices and desires of our own hearts as the prayer book had it!). They are things like hatred, strife, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy (and then a handful related to sexual morality and drunkenness). In a way this is like the list of things we shall shortly be repenting of in this service.

St Paul then goes on to describe the contrast of these, the way the Spirit works in us and through us as the fruit of the Spirit. One of my commentaries said of this phrase. These are the spontaneous qualities of a life directed by the Spirit as opposed to human efforts to live according to the directives of the law or the flesh. Another way of understanding this as the peaceful growth in a person directed by the Holy Spirit. Rather than our outbursts of undisciplined passion! The virtues and characteristics then described are a gift by God through the Spirit working in us and the way God can help us to live a more holy and Godly focussed life. I don’t think this is just a passive thing but us co-operating with God to let the Spirit work in us and through us.

And ways that people will see the power of God in the quality of our lives and lifestyles. Just after the fruit are described St Paul says. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. So the fruit are Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As the Sundays and celebrations of this year’s Lent and Holy Week unfold, we will look at each one in turn. Before we look at today’s fruit, I just want us to contemplate why sometimes at baptisms, I teach the friends and families gathered what these fruit are and why they are important for the baby or child being baptised. It is the influence of God in the newly baptised child that matters and how the Holy Spirit will work in them from that day forward.

For today’s marking of Ash Wednesday – I picked the fruit self-control…. Jesus challenged those gathered at the temple when the woman had been brought in in our Gospel reading today. He said to them – let anyone among you who is without sin throw a stone at her. This is a really counter cultural answer to a trick question! Everyone recognised they had fallen short and walked away. We recognise the quality of Jesus self control here – and one of the best things we can do is attempt to be more like him in the face of hostility and difficult questions.

Self control is a word with a long history amongst the Greek classical writers. It was introduced by Socrates and Plato used it in relation to overindulgence in food or sex. Aristotle understood the difference between the person who had powerful passions but keeps them under control. As opposed to the person who does not deliberately choose wrong but has no power to resist temptation.

What is self control? Self-control at its simplest is exercising control over your feelings or actions or restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires. In more spiritual language – We probably most think of it as the active effort we put forth to resisting temptations that are not God’s way for us. A more positive take – Behaviour honouring of our love for God and God’s control on our lives. A simpler way to put this is to move away from the two year old temper tantrums if we don’t get our own way! We have all developed from that approach to life.

I think it’s inclusion in Paul’s spiritual fruit for us is that the Holy Spirit can help us with the things we struggle to control in ourselves. Praying for this Spiritual fruit will help us in areas we find difficult. Help us to live in more loving and beneficial ways for others. In my Spiritual fruit story book, the fruit used for self control is a lime. A little can go a long way in our uses of limes. It says – the fruit of self control helps me to be strong and to get along. Strong in what sense?

  • Strong against things that tempt us that aren’t good for us.
  • Strong in seeking what God says is best for us.
  • Strength to get along – by thinking of others before ourselves.
  • Strength in seeking God’s will and in kindness in how we treat others.

This is not to say this is remotely easy or particularly straightforward, but is a sign of the Spirit living in us and moulding us the way we want to be. Elsewhere in Paul’s writings he recognises this is far from easy. In Romans 7 Paul describes how he longs to do the right thing but ends up doing completely the other – the wrong thing. It’s not a one off, he does this over and over again. He is still vulnerable to temptation, just as we are. Weakness and wrong doing where we should have greater self control. Where Paul struggles  just as much as we do… 

Paul’s answer to his and our dilemma is Jesus saving love for us on the cross. God’s mercy and forgiveness and our deliverance and our need for thankfulness are Paul’s answer and to live lives in response to that is Paul’s answer. Here is a deep truth we celebrate as Christians that if we acknowledge our weaknesses and mistakes, and are sorry, we can put them behind us as God forgives us and we can start again. For in God’s eyes that is already done and done in and through Jesus Christ.

Working on self control is not the path to punishing times of hard labour to make up for the past mistakes or present weaknesses, or agonising over our faults, living with grippling guilt, and struggles trying to do enough to earn a pardon. What needs doing is done already in Jesus. Through prayer, and guidance, there is the spiritual work that  can be done even on our worst weaknesses. The places where we find self control is really hard. This is spiritual work in our inner being – the spiritual fruit of self control.

Whatever your self control weakness area is our behaviour is our responsibility, but the Holy Spirit is the power that can help us change and our behaviour should include asking forgiveness of God. Giving thanks to God when we have better self control. Where forgiveness from God is of course God’s responsibility. Let’s let God be God to us and forgive us. Amen

References: Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians – Richard N Longnecker, the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible © 1989, 1995, The Fruit of the Spirit for little ones, Mandy Fender.

Sunday before Lent – 19th February 2023 – Penny Ashton

Sunday next before Lent – 19th February 2023

I am struck by reading through our two readings for today, of the need to be patient.  Often we read in our Bibles of things that happened – or didn’t happen because the time was or was not right.  We are these days an impatient generation, and I am not sure that it makes us better people.  I am sure I am not the only person who remembers shopping by mail order, by posting a form to the company we wanted to order from, and then waiting, remembering that the form always told us to allow up to 28 days for delivery.  In these days of fast fashion, people would be very unhappy to receive a garment just as it was about to become last month’s trend!  We have got used to having things at the moment that we want them, and I am not sure that it is always good for us.

I had not noticed before this week that Moses was on the mountain for six days before God called to him to come into the cloud, and in total he was on the mountain with God for forty days and nights.  And this is where the need for patience comes in again since although the people of Israel could see that the cloud which God had covered the mountain with was still there, and they had seen Moses and Joshua go into the cloud, and although the presence of God on the mountain gave the whole thing the appearance of an erupting volcano, still they thought that God and Moses had deserted them, and we read later on of how they persuaded Aaron to make the golden calf for them to worship as they had in Egypt.  Seven weeks is a long time to wait – as we learn every year in Lent if we have decided to give something up, particularly if it is something that we really enjoy.  It must have seemed very long indeed to a nation who were stuck in the desert, and whose leader had disappeared into the cloud at the mountain top.

The other detail from our reading of this story today that I had missed in the past, is that the tablets of stone that Moses was given on this occasion had been written on by God – not by any human.  As you will also know, Moses was so angered by the people seeking another god while he was on the mountain that he smashed those tablets, and in a later chapter of Exodus we read of how he goes back up the mountain to receive the commandments again, but this time he has to prepare the stone tablets, and carve the words into the stone himself.  The impatience of the people had brought punishment on themselves, and caused work for their leader!

I wonder how we would react if those original stones – engraved by the hand of God still existed – if we could see them for ourselves.  I can’t help feeling that we have read these stories so many times that we have lost the awe and wonder that they convey.  What did that mountain look like for those forty days?  What did Moses really see?  Coming to our gospel reading, what did the disciples really see when Jesus face was changed to shine like the sun, and his clothing became dazzling white?  What did they see in the cloud that obscured everything, and yet made them fall face down in worship?  Once again, we come up against the problem of impatience, and our very human desire of wanting to keep things.  Peter’s suggestion of building shelters is a way of trying to capture the moment, to keep it forever.  Had cameras been invented then, he would almost certainly have wanted to take a picture.

We have reached a point in our bible readings and in our church’s year when we finally turn away from one season to prepare for the next.  We began to make this turn at Candlemas, but it is a wrench to turn away from Christmas and towards Lent.  We have perhaps made the Christmas story rather more pretty and comfortable than it actually was, and we enjoy the fairy lights, stars and angels that we use to decorate our homes, and the images of new babies, warm stables, cosy sheep and gentle candlelight.  At the transfiguration, Jesus turns his face away from his ministry in Galilee where he has a large following and towards Jerusalem, knowing what his fate there would be.  It is worth remembering that he had not long before heard of the death of John the Baptist, and on hearing this news had tried to get away for some solitude with his Father, but the crowds followed him.  Perhaps, in the same way that his ministry received divine approval at the time when he went to John for baptism at its beginning, so this experience, for him affirmed his decision to head for Jerusalem and his fate at the hands of the world’s authorities – this could be the beginning of the end.

We too are moving out of the dark days of winter, and each day that passes at this time of year has a few minutes more daylight than the one before.  But before we can come to the great celebration of Easter, we have the season of Lent before us. Once again, we need to be patient, even though the hot cross buns are already in the shops.  I have to confess that I am glad that the rules regarding fasting in the protestant churches are nothing like as strict as they are in some parts of the Orthodox churches, when on a fast day, almost no food apart from vegetables was allowed.  I have no desire to become vegan!  We are however taught that this is a time to seek out the presence of God, in prayer, meditation and bible study, and if we accompany this with giving up something that gives us pleasure, it all begins to sound rather dour – a bit like February weather. 

But the passages that we have just read tell us of the wonder and glory of coming into God’s presence.  We know that later in the Exodus story the people have to ask Moses to wear a veil to cover his face after he has been in God’s presence as he is shining too brightly for them to be able to look at him.  In the same way, at the transfiguration, Jesus shines as brightly as the sun – and we have all been warned lots of times of the danger of looking directly into the brightness of the sun.  We no longer decorate our churches as we did before the reformation, and the bright pictures that were once on the walls, and the colours of the clothing of statues are all long gone.  Did we lose with them the sense of awe and wonder that we should surely feel when we consider the glory of God?  Do our church buildings speak now of a God who lives within grey stone walls, rather than one who makes our faces shine so brightly that people are afraid to look at them? Shall we make it our task this lent to find the wonder and the glory again?  Shall we turn our faces towards God, and spend time in his loving presence, in the hope that when we go out amongst our friends and neighbours, we too will shine with the glory of his love?  We are often afraid to speak of our faith with people who do not share it.  And yet, if we carried with us some of the glory of God, there would be no need to speak as it would be shining out of us. Could we make this Lent into forty days and nights of shining with the glory of God?  Could we?  Do we dare?

2nd Sunday before Lent – February 12th 2022

2nd Sunday before Lent – February 12th 2023

Genesis 1.1-2.3, Matthew 6 25-34

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Apart from our homes themselves, I want us to contemplate for a moment – What is the thing we have that is worth the most in terms of monetary value? It may be some beautiful work of art, or piece of jewellery or perhaps something more practical like our car or computer. I don’t have many really valuable things myself in terms of monetary value, but I do have some things which have great sentimental value.

When I was about 9 – our house was burgled when I was at school and a number of things were taken. I remember being most upset when we realised that my transistor radio (that dates it a bit!) had been taken. (I had only had it few weeks and it was a birthday present for my ninth birthday). It was not very valuable, and I soon had another one, but it was not the same. Even at the tender age of 9, I also remember not liking that someone had been in our house and been through our things. Not that we had much to take.

Some of the things we would most miss if we lost them or they were stolen, in reality, are those things that it would be impossible to replace. Like photos of special occasions or photos of friends/family who are no longer with us. Perhaps things, ornaments and mementos that remind us of significant events in our life. These things are generally not of value to anyone else – and their value certainly isn’t in their monetary worth, but in the events and people they help us remember.

These days we generally have a lot of possessions. I do worry about my capacity to expand what I have. The last time I moved 3 years ago – I remember being very conscious of this and I really do need to get it better under control. We also have a lot more possessions than any generation that proceeds us in this country. Lots of gadgets and technology in virtually every room (not just a battery powered transistor radio of my childhood in 1970!). We have things from a younger age and seem to want things younger and younger too!

All in all, I think we have got a bit out of kilter in society as a whole over the role of possessions and what it is that we have as we have so much. The comparison with others in other parts of the world is tricky to live with. We live in the 20% of the world, that consumes 80% of the world’s resources. In the cold light of day many of us have more than we need (and certainly most of the time) more than enough.

It is easy to then loose sight somewhat of the difference between want and need. We have easy access to lots and lots of different stuff. But – This is not true everywhere in our world. My heart this week has been breaking over the scenes from the earthquake in Syria and Turkey. For some at the moment in this country things are a real struggle with the cost of living. It is difficult right now! It is hard to know that in Wincanton and Pen Selwood – there will be people choosing between heating and eating! The number of people in fuel poverty is thought to have increased by at least 50% since April 2022. We are advanced and civilised in so many ways but then we are NOT advanced and civilised in others!

In our gospel Jesus is challenging his listeners as he preaches to his followers on the mountain about their approach to things – in this case the things they need for day to day life. He is asking his listeners, us and those who listen 2000 years ago to live more simply and centred on him. He is saying no matter what the thing is – clothing, food etc let alone all the things we have – we should follow God first. He is starting from what we actually need rather than from our 21st century western understanding of what we want. What we need is to have enough to survive day by day and to concentrate on that. Though we might rarely be at this level – it does put a different perspective on things and even then when we might be struggling Jesus puts as the priority – Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Being loving, generous and kind in all our dealings!

Even when we are struggling (and I am sorry if we are). There is much to hope of and experience in our love of God and God’s overwhelming love for us. In a way this reading challenges us and it helps if we take a step back and understand this from time to time. To get our perspective right about what we have and the power it can work over us if we are not careful. We own our possessions they don’t own us or drive us. I find it helps me to think I am a steward of what God has given me on our good earth – and that we should always be moving towards God’s love for us and caring for the good earth he made for us

In a way we have come across this thought at a good time in the church year as  we move onwards towards Lent. The annual opportunity it presents to dig deeper and get closer to God and our reliance on God. To re-order our priorities and spend more time on our relationship with God. Understanding our reliance, and dependence. His overwhelming care for us and God’s amazing plan for us.

I urge you to take a full part in our Lent activities, if you can. Get hold of the book we are going to study together and read along with us. Or connect to the app, or daily emails, or daily hope line or get your smart speaker to do the necessary. This Lent we are particularly focussing on understanding how God’s spirit works fruit in us on Sundays and how to walk with God in our failures and stuff ups in our week day material – Dust and Glory. This will help keep us in perspective with our feet on the ground and keeps us understanding where God is at work in our lives.

Making sure we are thankful is another practical thing we can do to keep grounded. To reach the end of the day and reflect on something to be thankful for and repeat this exercise at the end of each  week and each month. I was reminded of a thankfulness jar activity in a conversation recently. As an aide memoire write down the things we are thankful for at the end of each day. Put them in the jar as a visible reminder. Review them from time to time to bring home this message of thankfulness. This could be a good Lenten activity in the weeks ahead if it appeals to you and will help bring a little balance to our proceedings.

I am going to end by reading part of our Matthew passage again (if you are reading this online – then follow the link and read verses 30-34 from the Message – An American paraphrase of the bible. To help us dwell on these words.



Fuel poverty stuff from

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson –

New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized edition) copyright 1989, 1995

3rd Sunday before Lent – 5th February – Rev Alison Way

3rd Sunday before Lent – 5th February 2023 – Rev Alison Way

Isaiah 58:1-9a, Matthew 5:13-20

I need to confess that I do find the long dark months of winter a bit of a struggle. To be honest at times it feels like I would be best at hibernating (though this is clearly not an option). The anticipation and hope built into Advent and then Christmas carry us through the early days of the winter season, and we do during this time turn the corner on the hours of natural daylight just before Christmas, when we pass the winter solstice. There is something about cold and gray days which can characterise January and February, where it can be hard to get going and get on with the activities of the day. Even if it is cold, on a sunny bright day the world feels a better place. As the days lengthen and time moves on we begin to see hints of spring in snowdrops or the other spring bulbs beginning to show signs of new life. Just near me where I live in Wincanton is a road that is awash with daffodils around the turn of the new year (the first year I saw this I was amazed! But it is definitely an annual event), There are signs in Pen Selwood churchyard of the coming of the dazzling daffodil display popping up through the ground (though not the flowers just yet).

As Penny was talking about last week, light is a precious commodity, and can bring us so much joy and wonder as we look around us bathed in sunlight. We are more conscious of this when we are scrabbling around without enough light (like when we did evensong without all the lights working a few months ago) or are thrown unexpectedly into a power cut in the evening hours. We can have too little light, we can also have too much – the burning power of the sun (now we have thinned the ozone layer a little) on our skins or having too much ‘blue’ light from our devices, televisions, phones and tablets.

Jesus lived in simpler times than we do and he asked his followers like us to be like him as the light of the world. Light is part of the world outside of us, and this is asking us to live lives making our Christian discipleship obvious and part of what people really see. The passage from Isaiah today draws into what this looks like when it has gone a bit wrong. The people’s perception of their relationship with God was based on all the wrong things. They were keen on drawing near to God, but framed this in terms of their religious practices, such as fasting and praying.

The prophet pointed out that their day-to-day behaviour was a big lie in relation to their faith – they wanted ‘righteous judgements’ from God but were unwilling to act righteously or lovingly themselves. They oppressed their workers and ignored the poor and the hungry. They pointed the finger and spoke evil of others. Their extravagant, outward, one-off gestures did nothing to repair the injustice of their everyday lives. Towards the end it says The light that shall break forth like the dawn would only arise when they got rid of their acts of oppression and fed the hungry.

Jesus is addressing this same point towards the end of our gospel this morning. The Scribes and Pharisees were the ones that were supposed to be the most religious, holy and righteous in his day. But they were high on piety and religious behaviours but low on compassion, kindness to others and love. He urges his followers then and us to let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

So that is Jesus addressing our outer world – what people see in how we live.

Let’s now turn our thoughts to the first analogy Jesus used about us being the salt of the earth. This has a much greater focus on our inner world. Salt describes something that happens internally or within a certain substance – it is immediately identifiable by taste. Light is something that happens externally – outside in the landscape or filling a space.

Perhaps Jesus chose these metaphors to make sure that both the inside and outside of life – our interior world of thought, our exterior world of objects and actions – are both covered in our understanding of discipleship. That discipleship is a whole life thing. Not just about what we do or what we think, but both what we think and what we do! We do need to be careful too about what we think, as this can so govern our behaviours. Spending time with God each day in reading the Bible and praying, can really help us reflect on what is on our minds. My experience of this is it is frequent that my morning Bible study is often very pertinent to what is happening that day, and gives  me food for thought that will help me  be more like Jesus, and less driven by my own devices and desires.

Obviously whole life discipleship (thinking and acting) makes it all the more challenging. Perhaps we have a chance with the weeks of Lent to work on one or other of these things. Perhaps, if we are strong on action and activity, we should try to spend more time in quiet contemplation, bible study and prayer. Perhaps, if we are strong in our prayer lives, we should try to do something more upfront and activity based to help us grow. Whatever we decide about this Lent, I urge you to make sure it is something that brings you closer to God.

In our preaching/teaching and learning opportunities over Lent we are going to be thinking about 2 different strands of Christian Discipleship. In Church we will be thinking about the fruit of the spirit, how God can and does work in us and develop fruit in us. St Paul says in the letter to the Galatians this –  By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We will be thinking about what these things are and how we can grow in all these different things over the weeks of Lent and Holy Week in our worship – starting with thinking about self-control on Ash Wednesday and finishing with joy on Easter Day.

With Churches Together in Wincanton we will be using this material written by Bishop Emma Ineson (Bishop to the Archbishops and soon to be Bishop of Kensington) called Dust and Glory. There are lots of ways into this online, via an app, via the daily hope line or by purchasing this booklet from Penny Ashton. It provides daily reflections for Lent on the theme of a Lent journey of faith, failure and forgiveness. It acknowledges how much of a mess we can make of our every day lives (in relation to today’s reading when we aren’t salty and don’t bring light to things). The Archbishops of Canterbury and York say about it – Dust and Glory encourages us to take a fresh look at frustrations and failings that every day brings and, rather than pretending to always avoid them, seek to learn from them and grow closer to God through them.

So much to think about today about our discipleship – I am going to end with a prayer of thanksgiving and challenge on being the light in the world, with a salty inner life!

Father God, thank you that you have prepared for us far more than we can ever hope, believe or imagine;  no eye, no ear, no heart can conceive what you have prepared for those who love you. Thank you that you restore us and transform us to become the people you have called us to be. Thank you that you are the light of the world.  Thank you that you are the salt of the earth. Thank you that in you we can be salt and light too, that we can go out and revitalise our communities, bringing hope and renewal to our families, our friends, our neighbours and our churches. Amen.

References Prayer © from – reproduced with permission, The Revised Standard Version of the Bible © 1989 (1995), Dust and Glory – A lent journey of faith, failure and forgiveness – Bishop Emma Ineson.