From our Team Rector Revd. Ren - April 2019

Team Rector’s Letter                                   April 2019


We are now well on our way through Lent, which began on Wednesday 6 March – Ash Wednesday.


Ash Wednesday is the time that traditionally people come into church and have the sign of the cross marked in ash on their foreheads. It begins a period of prayer, fasting and charitable acts, and a time when Christians reflect on their own journey of faith.


It was a great privilege for me to be involved in the ‘Ashing’ at one of the Team’s schools, Old Bexley Church of England Primary School, with the Team Vicar Reverend Clive Wood and the Team Curate, Reverend Gary Best.


We had arranged for Years 4 and 5, (so aged 8 to 9 years) to come into the school hall for the Ashing Service and the two hundred children were joined by some parents and grandparents. Reverend Gary began by checking who had enjoyed pancakes for Pancake or ‘Shrove’ Tuesday the day before, and what the favourite toppings were. Nutella seemed to be the favourite (other chocolate spreads are available!). He then went on to explain the meaning of Ash Wednesday and what would happen in the service. He emphasised that this was a time to be quiet and to think about our own behaviour and our relationship with each other and with God.


Slowly the children formed into three lines, each line queuing in front of the three clergy there, and we began to make the sign of the cross in black ash mixed with oil, using the simplified words... “Remember you are dust... trust Jesus.”

I was impressed by the way in which each child seemed to take the little ritual seriously, moved by how most, if not all of them made eye contact with me as I gently touched their forehead with the black, slightly gritty ash and said the simple words, reminding them of their mortality. I saw a sense of awe, of wonder, and perhaps a little puzzlement in their eyes, as if they knew that all this was important but couldn’t quite understand exactly why...


When I returned home, it was to the evening news full of more discussion about the stabbings of young people on the streets of British towns, young people not so very much older than the children I had met in the school.


Well, as you read this, the beginning of March will seem a long time ago, we will have moved through the season of Lent towards Easter Day, and those same school children who were ‘ashed’ will be looking forward to the school holidays and Easter eggs and (hopefully) having fun in the warm sunshine, as children should.


The Christian faith is centred on the God who brings healing and reconciliation to the broken places of the world. As our children grow – and society’s children belong to us all - may God protect each one of them from the hatred, fear and disillusionment that gives rise to the violence on our streets. May God give wisdom to those in authority as they seek solutions. And may God bring comfort to those whose children will never come home.

Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

contact me at The Vicarage, 6 Tile Kiln Lane


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