Lent 2020 – Set me on Fire!
Lent this year feels particularly significant in the life of our church as we growing as a community with a purpose, with a deepening sense of God given call and purpose to plant churches, make disciples and transform communities. This is a vision that is beyond us – we can’t do it alone, we need God to come and set us on fire! May this be our prayer in Lent.
Lent 2020 begins with the Ash Wednesday Service at 7 am on 26 February. Within our church family there are people for whom the observance of Lent has been a significant part of our spirituality for many years and there are others for whom this is not the case. Whatever is true for you, Lent is a gift to us of being a discrete period of time where corporately together and individually we can pray through and reflect on our call, our discipleship and our response to that.
I want to call and encourage you to engage with Lent this year. We will have a three-fold focus to Lent as we pray ‘Set me on Fire!’:
‘Watch and pray, don’t wait and see!’
When the Spirit came at Pentecost (led to the greatest missionary movement the world has ever known), tongues of fire were seen on the believers – the fire of God cleanses, impassions and empowers us for the things of God. Individually and collectively this lent we pray ‘Set me and us on Fire!’ Passionate prayer is always a feature of a significant move of God. God both stirs our prayers and acts in response to our prayers. Before Pentecost, Jesus spoke to his friends and followers about the Kingdom and said ‘…wait for the gift my father promised…the Holy Spirit.’ This waiting was an passionate waiting where they passionately prayed ‘Your Kingdom Come!’ and ‘Come Holy Spirit!’ (Acts 1:14). In Lent, we want to come before God in prayer, listening to God, seeking God, hungering for God, longing for the things of the Spirit crying out to him to release his Spirit, to make us people of the Word, asking him to move in our city to call people to him and transform society. Specifically, I encourage you to do two things:
Fully engage with our week of prayer programme. Choose to fast (refrain from food) for one full day or part of one day during Lent
Week of Prayer, Sunday 23 Feb to Sunday 1 March
24 Hours of Prayer - 23 Feb, 8 pm
Worship night - 24 Feb, 8 pm
Morning Devotion 25 Feb, 9 am
Ash Wednesday 26 Feb, 7 am
Morning Devotion - 27 Feb, 9 am
Prayer in Friday Sparks 28 Feb, 8 am
This is about our personal and collective response to the vision and call of God. As we deepen in our discipleship we seek to respond more fully to the call of God. Through Lent we will be focusing on the practices of Pray, Serve, Give and Belong. After Easter, we will focus on ‘Make Disciples’ our fifth practice.
Church is an extended family on mission where everybody is involved and everybody is supported. We need to replenish our teams across the life of the church – how are you serving? Giving of our time and gifts can sometimes be the most sacrificial response to the call of God – giving money is relatively easy but for busy people, the gift of time can be very costly. I call and invite everyone to pray about and consider where they fit within the life of the church and how they can get involved. We need people to help run our high impact children and youth ministries in particular, but also in other areas of church life. Also, we need more people to serve on PCC – would you consider that as your way of serving. Look out for more details throughout Lent.
We have an exciting vision! We have heard the call of God to plant churches, make disciples and transform communities. To grow St John’s as a ‘sending centre’ and to reach out beyond ourselves, we need the financial resources to enable this. We estimate we need £15,000 of additional income in 2020 to enable church planting, grow our sung worship and prayer and run our operations. This equates to around £20/month per regular giver. On 22 March we will hold our annual gift day. The staff team PCC are leading the way with this and already considering their personal responses to this call to give. I call all of us to prayerfully consider what we can give, specifically:
If you don’t yet give regularly, can you begin?If you do, can you increase your giving by at least £20/month?Can you give a one-off gift to the mission/ministry of St John’s?
During lent we will revise our electoral roll. We would like everyone who considers themselves a member of the St John’s Church family to be on the electoral roll, if you think there is a chance you might not be, please sign up via our website.
The passion of Jesus – in the second half of Lent we will have a series of talks in our Sunday services looking at the cross, why Jesus died and the difference that made.
Central Church, 7.45 pm Thurs 12 March – ‘Set me on Fire!’
Please note the next central church on 12 March. Theme for that night will be ‘Set me on Fire!’. That night we will be considering again our vision, the call God has given us as a church and will share news of some exciting developments. And our focus will firmly be on the fire of God – the vision God has given us is way beyond us, we can’t do it on our own, we need the fire of God to cleanse us, motivate us and empower us. This will be a night of seeking God for his fire!
So there is lots going on through out Lent, please take not of the following…
23 Week of prayer begins (details above)
25 Pancake Party, 3.30 pm
26 Ash Wednesday Service
29 Alpha Holy Spirit Away day – all welcome!
1 Sunday Focus on Prayer
8 Sunday Focus on Serve
12 Central Church – ‘Set me on Fire!’
15 All-age Service
22 Gift Day! – Sunday focus on Giving
29 Sunday Focus on The Cross 1
5 Palm Sunday – Focus on The Cross 2