We learned recently of the sad news of the death of the Rev Canon Dr Bertie Collie. Much of Bertie’s life was dedicated to the people of Maybole, as GP and priest, and since posting the news of his death on Facebook, over 100 people have commented on how he touched their lives, showing how much of himself he gave to our local community. He will be particularly remembered with affection at St Oswald’s for his pastoral care of those committed to his charge, for his prayerful leadership and for his unstinting work as a priest among us. We pray for Bertie’s family as they mourn his passing and give thanks for his ministry among us. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
On 3 February, we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, forty days after His birth and marking the end of the Church’s Nativity season.
It is also, traditionally, known as Candlemas, the service at which the candles to be used in church over the coming year are blessed. Members of the congregation are invited to bring the candles they use at home, as a focus in their prayer and meditation times, so that they too can be blessed. We are fortunate this year to be led in our celebrations by Fr Jonathan Livingstone and look forward to him being with us.
We hardly seem able to draw breath from our Christmas celebrations when suddenly Lent will be upon us. While it may seem a little way off, now is a good time to begin thinking about the form our Lenten discipline may take. The tradition of giving something up for Lent is meant to be an opportunity for discipline through sacrifice, rather than ensuring we are going to be able to look elegant in our beachwear. While thinking about what to give up perhaps it would be good to identify the charity that will benefit from the money saved as a result of the sacrifice of self denial you will be making.
For me, Lent is an opportunity to take something on that will improve my spiritual growth as the spiritual life is the bedrock of our Christian witness. Finding and timetabling time for extra prayer and meditation is central to our relationship with Christ. Time with Him alone, away from the distractions of everyday living, are the very lifeblood of our soul and so it is as important to make time for this as it is important for our bodies to make time to eat and drink.
You may be asking yourself why I am going on about Lent now as there are weeks to go.
If we are planning a holiday, we don’t leave it until a week before, we often begin the year before: surely our spiritual life, our relationship with the Risen Lord, our preparation for eternity deserves a little forward planning too.
May the flame of Christ’s love burn ever brightly in your lives.