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A warm welcome from the Rector

As you read this article we are preparing to bid a fond farewell to our friend and colleague, The Revd Jim Fletcher. We hold Jim and his family very much in our prayers as they prepare to move to Gravesend, and we pray for ourselves as we enter a period of change in which we will grow together in God’s love.

In March we enjoy the excess and fun of Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) then on a more sombre and penitential note as we enter into Lent, a time of intentional focus on God which starts on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps this year you would like to join one of our Lent Groups or spend some time in the peace of Ridley church and it’s surrounding with a guided, cross shaped, labyrinth.

Then in April we focus again on our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. For some (indeed the liturgy of the church to some extent enables this) the experience of Holy Week means Church on Palm Sunday and Church on Easter Day and little more. Holy week is, however, far richer as an experience if we make a conscious journey through it. We journey with Jesus and his followers as they make their triumphal entry into Jerusalem, re-live afresh the events of the first Holy Week, culminating in the last Supper. Then on Good Friday comes the desolation and agony of the Cross. On Holy Saturday, we wait. But we wait not in desolation but rather in hope. And moving from Holy Saturday evening into Easter Sunday, we experience the transformative joy that is the resurrection of our Lord.

And as is the case every year, there’s a lot going on in The RNWK Group! As we enter Passiontide on April 7th, Longfield will hold its APCM and then all members of the Group will be invited to join in the now annual ‘RNWK Group Curry’!

During Holy Week we will join together for intimate services on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (8pm on 15th/16th/17th ) being at All Saints, Hartley, St Peter and St Paul, Ash and St Mary’s, Fawkham respectively. Then on Maundy Thursday (18th) the group meets in Longfield for what promises to be a solemn evening, a celebration of the Holy Eucharist supported by our Group Choir.

On Good Friday (19th), there will be the walks of witness (look out for a leaflet with details) and the ‘Messy Good Friday’ at the Church Centre, culminating in an act of worship at which we share with our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic tradition. St Peter’s, Ridley will hold a meditation on the Cross at 2pm.

On Holy Saturday (20th) for the second time we will enjoy the magnificent Easter Vigil, New Fire, Renewal of Baptism Vows and the first Eucharist of Easter. This will be in the beautiful surroundings of Ash Church and our preacher and president will be The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester. After the service, there will be copious festive refreshments - plenty to eat and drink as we break our Lenten fasts! Then on Easter Day worship will be held in churches across the RNWK Group as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

Easter is, of course, the Apex of the Christian year. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, coinciding as it does in the Northern Hemisphere with the outbreak of spring speaks to us of new life and hope in abundance. And of course Easter is not simply a one day festival. Just as Lent has lasted for 40 days before Easter, so the great festivities continue for 50 days until Pentecost - by which time summer will be just around the corner.

Our sincere prayer is that you will experience afresh the joy of Easter when it arrives and that it, and the onset of spring, fill you with renewed hope, vitality and the knowledge of the Love of God.

God Bless … Rev Helen.


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