Musings From The Manse
This month could be called the month of love because St Valentine’s day is celebrated halfway through on the 14th (just in case you have forgotten!) It is difficult to pin down exactly who St Valentine was – there may have been more than one – but there are two stories that I think are worth retelling here.
One is about a Roman priest who was arrested after being caught marrying Christian couples and helping other Christians who were being persecuted by the Emperor Claudius. He was executed for doing that. The other tells of Valentinus who was the bishop of Terni in central Italy. While under arrest he insisted on discussing the faith with his judge Asterius who decided to put him to the test by asking him to cure his blind adopted daughter. Valeninus laid his hands on her eyes and her sight was restored. The judge and his family became Christians and were baptised and Valentinus was released.
Unfortunately, he was later arrested again and sent to Emperor Claudius whom he tried to convert. Claudius would have nothing to do with this and had him executed outside the Flaminian Gate on 14th February 269. On the eve of his execution it is said that he wrote to the daughter of his former jailer and signed the letter “from your Valentine”. So, we can see how some of the traditions surrounding St Valentine’s day may have begun.
More importantly, this is the month when Lent begins on Ash Wednesday – 14th February. During Lent we are encouraged to think about what Jesus went through as he journeyed towards his death on the cross. In the early church it was a time when new Christians were prepared for their baptism, which traditionally took place on Easter Day. So, for them, it was a time when they learned more about what the faith really meant and how they might respond to it.
Sometimes we try and emulate Jesus – who went without food for those 40 days – by giving up something ourselves during Lent. This is meant to help us concentrate on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. That may be a commitment you are planning to make for yourself this Lent.
This year the Methodist Church is calling all churches to a day of prayer and fasting, and here in the Lancashire district the weekend of 10th-11th February has been chosen. And so, in the Preston Ribble Circuit, we are inviting everyone to commit to a time of prayer and fasting on Saturday 10th February (health permitting). Each church in the circuit has been given a time slot to host an hour of prayer and the time slot for Kingsfold is 1-2pm. Watch out in the notices for more details.
May you be blessed this Lent as we go forward in faith together.
Yours with love and prayers,
Creator God, may this Lent be a time of inner peace, joyful prayer and the casting off of burdens, so that we may then be ready to accept the gracious gifts of Passiontide and Easter. Amen.
- Hawksbury Drive
- Kingsfold, Penwortham
- PR1 9EN