March already! The year still seems like it’s getting underway in a somewhat stilted fashion, and here it’s March and Lent! There’s a distinctly autumnal feel in the air, though I did manage a well-ventilated picnic in the Botanical Gardens last Monday!

Anxious Times We are living in anxious times as we watch on in shock and grief at Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, admire the courage of the Ukrainian people and weep with those fleeing as refugees to thankfully hospitable neighbouring nations. Let’s keep in our prayers both leaders of nations, and the ordinary civilians caught up in events beyond their control. Our God of justice and mercy has a concern for both.

Closer to home with rapidly rising Omicron case numbers, we pray for all those households affected, for our schools and universities trying to keep going, and our health services under pressure. We pray for our national leaders and us as citizens as tiredness and anxiety means short fuses and grumpiness. We pray for grace for each other.

Supporting One Another It was good to share with Archdeaconry colleagues during the week as we all grapple with lower numbers at worship and how to support people isolating at home. Thanks to those who keep in touch by dropping in a pewsheet or magazine, and taking a moment to say hi and cheer someone’s day. We’re livestreaming our 9am and 10.30am Sunday services, and there’s a fair bit of Zooming going on for Lent groups and Sunday 8pm Night Prayer, (see link here) which many find a gentle and soothing ‘nightcap’ before the new week begins.

Lent has begun Several of us gathered on Ash Wednesday evening to receive the sign of the cross in ash—symbol of our mortality, our humanity but also powerful symbol of our baptism and being claimed by Christ as his, as we walk with him the road to Jerusalem. In Lent we acknowledge with Jesus the temptations to give in to our appetites, and to our needs for acceptance and approval. But with Jesus also we hear the voice of our God say to us, You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased. As we baptise William Fowler on Sunday, may we be reminded we too are beloved children of God.

Arohanui, Rev Jenny

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