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Focus Your Attention

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rend your hearts and not your clothing.

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.(Joel 2.12–13)


Dear All Saints and St Mary’s


This week we move fully into the season of Lent. Mirroring the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness, the church has traditionally set aside the forty days leading up to Holy Week as a time of reflection and self-discipline in preparation for Easter. There are many traditions that are associated with Lent, but they all centre on the need for repentance, a change of mind and heart that once again focuses our attention on the way of Christ.


To support us in this, in addition to our church services this Lent and Holy week, we are running a Lent Course based on a book by Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Bishop of Dover. The course has five sessions that reflect on various topics that lead us through the season of Lent towards Easter. The first session reflects on the ideas of identity and belonging and how our views of ourselves and where we fit can influence or constrain what we believe we can do. Matthew 16.13–17 helps us think about Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am”.

The song “Alexander Hamilton

then tells the story of how Hamilton did not feel constrained by his background, even though throughout the musical it is a constant theme.

Then Deuteronomy 26.1–11 leads us into the idea of a community identity.


All the session topics are as follows:



Bible passages


21st Feb

Identity and belonging

Matthew 16.13–17 Deuteronomy 26.1–11

Alexander Hamilton, My shot

28th Feb

Ambition and temptation

Mark 10.35–40 Luke 9.46–48 2 Samuel 11.1–15

My Shot, Say no to this

6th March

Forgiveness and redemption

Matthew 18.21–35 Genesis 50.15–21

BurnIt’s quiet uptown

13th March

Love and sacrifice

John 21. 15–19 1 Corinthians 13

You’ll be back, Helpless, Dear Theodosia

20th March

Hope and courage through adversity

Mark 9.14–29 Luke 23.32–43

Non-stop, Who lives, who dies, who tells your story

 There will be an afternoon session held in St Mary’s parish rooms from 1.30pm until 3.00pm and an evening session held in the All Saints link from 7.30pm until 9.00pm. If you are thinking of coming, could you please let one of the ministers know, so we have some idea of numbers.


This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent, and we have the following services:

10.00 am

St Mary’s

Holy Communion with Baptism

10.30 am

All Saints

Holy Communion

 In addition to our Lent course, we have our usual mid-week services. Next Sunday is the fourth Sunday of the month, so there will be Café Church at All Saints, where we continue our look at characters from the books of Samuel. Next Sunday we will be looking at Samuel and how God’s idea of a leader is different from ours. This gives the following services for the coming week:

Wednesday 21st

9.00 am

All Saints

Celtic morning prayer


1.30 pm

St Mary’s parish rooms

Lent course


7.30 pm

All Saints link

Lent course

Thursday 22nd

10.00 am

St Mary’s

Holy Communion

Sunday 25th

8.00 am

All Saints

Said Holy Communion


10.00 am

St Mary’s

Holy Communion


10.30 am

All Saints

Café church


As we enter Lent let us pray for God’s help in the words of this Sunday’s collect:

  Heavenly Father,

your Son battled with the powers of darkness,

and grew closer to you in the desert:

help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer

that we may witness to your saving love

in Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Yours in Christ




Mark Simms

Licensed Lay Minister

Benefice of All Saints and St Mary, Fishponds

18th February 2024 Email Notice Sheet
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18th February 2024
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