Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday: where did that year go?! One of the many different opportunities the Minster affords is to host important mile stones in the lives of the people of Halifax and Calderdale. These come at the beginning of life when a child has been born, or in the middle of life when two people want to make promises to each other and to God about their future lives together, and then again at the end of life. We’ve had the privilege to host nine Funerals since Christmas, and whilst somewhat exhausting for those involved, they provide the Minster with a window to provide care and attention to the community around us. Because we are the largest Church in the locality, we tend to pick up those funerals that are perhaps unusual and often tragic. This makes the Minster an interesting place for those here in training roles and gives them valuable experience to take with them when they move on. Most funerals don’t involve the Class of 92 and the national media as we had the other day for Eric Harrison!

Last week, after Eric’s Funeral I spent the rest of the week at Selwyn College Cambridge. A lovely room and food, to allow me to slow down a bit, read, and pray. Not something that comes naturally to me, but something I’m still learning is good for me, and I suspect for the whole community while I’m away! Not surprisingly I fell asleep in the Fellows garden on Wednesday afternoon, as everything I’ve been doing since Christmas began to catch up with me. I did get to read and dip into a few books, which was restful as well as stimulating. I was able to revisit some old haunts from childhood days, with Evensong at John’s College on Wednesday, at Selwyn on Thursday, and then a Sung Eucharist on Friday for St David’s Day at Kings. Josh came to join me as Stephen Cherry the Dean gave us seats in the Fellows stalls, and the choir sang the Mass by Victoria O Quam gloriosum. With the music and the architecture, it was for me, a true glimpse of God’s glory and the thin veil between heaven and earth. Saturday I had tickets for Old Trafford as Manchester United took on Southampton!

Lent begins tomorrow, and we have an annual chance for some self-reflection and renewal. I can’t quite decide what I’m going to do this year for Lent, and time is running out! I’m thinking of taking a short walk each day, to give myself space and time, for me and for exercise! Most of the time I’m charging around chasing my tail, and it would be good to have more head space to reflect and simply be with God. The Minster shop has a few books, including the Archbishop’s Lent book for 2019, I think I will buy a copy and dip into it – last year I ended up reading it on my summer holiday! This year’s Lent Sermon Series will explore How other Faiths Pray, giving us insights to other windows onto God that might feed our own?

Friday the Minster hosts a Schools Fair Trade Conference as its Fair-Trade Fortnight, organised by Fair and Funky and Holly Lynch our MP. The Minster shop is now selling Fair Trade tea and coffee - you should try it sometime? Saturday we host The Battle of Heptonstall – another opportunity to welcome people into the Minster. We really are so lucky to have such a wonderful building that so many people want to come and enjoy!

Happy Lent!