Dear friends,

St Valentine’s Day is approaching: disappointingly, this third-century Roman saint does not appear in the modern Church calendar – 14 February is instead the Feast of St Cyril and St Methodius, equally important figures but rather less romantic.

Nonetheless, matters of the heart may be significant in our thinking this week – and in our Gospel reading this Sunday Jesus encourages us to demonstrate a wholehearted and heartfelt commitment to the Christian life. In a series of vivid illustrations of ethical behaviour, he explains why right living cannot simply involve outward conformity to the moral code, but must proceed from a heart that is right with God. For example, although the law forbids violence and murder, yet anger is equally corrosive of peace and goodness, even when not outwardly expressed. Certainly we must avoid injuring others, but we must also cultivate a generosity of heart which avoids ill-feeling in the first place. 

This Sunday is the middle Sunday in a sequence of three weekends over which we will be considering the three central pillars of Lent, the season of penitence which is fast approaching: having last week thought about what place fasting ought to have in Christian living, this week our focus will be on almsgiving – before concluding next week with the subject of prayer. 

The theme of almsgiving will also introduce a second set(!) of three Sunday sermons, as part of this year’s campaign of Christian stewardship in the parish – introducing the basic principles of Christian giving, in support of the work of the Church. There’ll be lots of information forthcoming about how best we can play our part in resourcing St Mary’s work and witness, but don’t forget that you can always make a one-off donation to the parish either online via this link, or by bank transfer to 

Account Name: St Marys PCC 

Account No. 30334960 

Sort Code 20-37-16 

Please also now start to pray our stewardship prayer – daily, if possible: 

Father almighty, giver of every good and perfect gift, 
open our hearts and our hands to reflect your generous graciousness: 
inspire us to reflect humbly and honestly upon our contribution to the mission of your Church, 
and to offer cheerful of our time, our talents and our treasure. 
By our gift to the work and witness of St Mary’s, 
draw us more deeply into the mystery of salvation, 
into the fellowship of your people 
and into the image of your Son – 
for he is Lord of all Creation, 
Jesus Christ your Son, our Saviour – 
and it is in his name we pray. Amen.

With the assurance of my prayers, and best wishes,

Fr Richard

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