Last weekend we celebrated Candlemas, when the whole church celebrated the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and good old Simeon and Anna recognised Jesus as being the long awaited Messiah. This Festival brought to an end the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany cycle, and as we stood at the font and blew out our candles, we turned away from Christmas towards Lent and Holy Week.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which this year falls on the 14th February (Valentine’s Day!). The Midday Service will be at 12.30 at St Mark’s Siddal, with the evening Service in the Minster at 7.30pm. Please come and begin this season together as a worshipping community. Lent is an opportunity for spiritual growth and spending time with God. You are encouraged to DO SOMETHING as part of your Lenten journey: read a book – we are recommending a Lent Book you can buy; come to Compline on a Tuesday at 8.30pm; come to one of the daily Eucharists and spend extra time being with and listening to God; make Holy Week a priority by attending the Triduum: Maundy Thursday Liturgy; Good Friday Liturgy; Easter Day. Lent should not be about giving things up – it’s about doing something extra!

This year there will be a Stewardship Campaign during Lent. This will be launched by The Archdeacon of Halifax and will enable us to reflect on the giving of our time, talents, and money, to further the work of God’s Church here in the Minster. There are a number of people who have recently joined the community and this provides an opportunity for them to sign up to Planned Giving, which means they can give their money to the church in a tax efficient way, and make a real contribution to our ministry and mission. Everyone will receive a Stewardship Pack inviting them to respond to God’s generosity in all that he has given us. Katia Shoesmith will come to end the Stewardship Campaign as our new Area Dean, giving us encouragement and hope for the future.

Last night at the Church Council meeting we received reports form the Friends of Music and the Education Department. The Friends of Music reported on the growth of the choir, and plans to travel to both Bury St Edmunds and Norwich Cathedrals in the summer. The Education Department reported on the 860 children who visited the Minster in the Autumn term alone, and the 560 children who throughout last year came to explore Christianity and Islam. The Minster takes on a marvellous atmosphere when the building is full of children experiencing both awe and wonder, and we are so very lucky to such good quality staff to enable this to happen.

The new Calendar for 2018 comes out this month, giving the whole community a thumb nail sketch of what to expect throughout the coming months. Make sure you pick one up and put dates in the diary, otherwise you might miss something!

Hilary Barber