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Gifts 'for the common good' ...

By the time the next edition of this email bulletin appears in your in-box, Lent will have begun. So maybe now is the time to start thinking about what you might commit to doing this Lent that could help to make you more aware of Christ’s presence and call, and of who you are in him.

I guess that generally means either taking something on or giving something up. My own experience is that taking on a new commitment (e.g. to some kind of spiritual reading, or meditation, or sharing in a group or service) tends to be more effective and lasting in its effects. What would you say about that?

I’d really like to encourage you to sign up for our parish Lent course this year as something you might take on as a commitment. No matter what stage we are at in the Christian life, it’s a wonderful thing to share in prayer, fellowship and reflection on the Scriptures with a small group of other Christians. For some, that will be part of what you do throughout the year, but for the rest (including me!) Lent can be a great opportunity to benefit from that experience for a limited period of time.

The subtitle for the 2024 course – devised by the Revd Teena Twelves – is ‘Exploring how our God-given gifts can grow his Kingdom in Ashford Town Parish’. As we enter the second full year of our participation as a family of churches in Mission Action Planning, it feels very much like the right time to take stock of the gifts we have been given as the people of God in this place.

It’s so important that we recognise, affirm and nurture the gifts that every member of our churches has been given ‘for the common good’ (1 Corinthians 12.7). If anyone’s gifts are ignored or neglected or indeed supressed, we all suffer.

We’re not always, though, the best judges of what our true gifts are. That’s why this is such a great subject for a small-group course. How do others see us, and how can what we have been given by God help to build them up?

I hope and pray that through participation in this course across the parish, we can grow together in awareness and appreciation of God’s amazing generosity to us in the gifts we have been given, and shape our planning for mission to enable the fruitful use of them all ‘for the common good’.

The Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen

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