St Bartholomew and All Saints


Royal Wootton Bassett



Walking in the Footsteps of Christ


Wednesday 6th March is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the season of Lent - forty days of preparation before we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.


This time is an opportunity to journey together through the gospel message, and to rediscover what the sacrifice of Christ really means in our day-to-day lives.












 We stopped and prayed at each of the stations, and remembered the terrible suffering Christ knew in his earthly life. That God would suffer these things to redeem us reveals a majestic and awesome holy fire – a divine love which consumes all it touches.

 

Later in the week we moved to the North of the country, into Galilee. Here there is new life everywhere – green and fertile vegetation, and even a prosperous wine-growing region. After the dusty urban chaos and the darkness of death at Golgotha, here we meet Jesus, cooking breakfast on a quiet beach, gathering his friends around him. Peter’s earlier denial of Christ is reversed with his three-fold declaration of love for the Messiah (Jn 21:15-19). Forgiveness, and commission to carry the message of hope into the world, are united together over a hearty meal in the glorious daylight of a new morning.


And so it is with our journey as we enter into this season of Lent. Jesus’ life was marred by mockery and suffering, temptation and frustration. It ended with a hard suffering. But that was not the end of it. On the Spring morning of the first Easter, and that of 2019, Christ our King emerges crowned with New Life, a redemption and a freedom from sin given to all who choose to receive it.


It is traditional to give something up during Lent. Try taking something up too. I like to remember the ‘Jesus Prayer’ particularly at this time, and to pray it every day, sometimes quietly in between bible readings:


‘Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.’


One of the most important aspects of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land was the journey alongside other praying Christians. We stopped often to celebrate the Eucharist or to remember others and pray and sing together. It is important to do the same as we gather as a community through Lent.


Moreover, it is not only in the middle-east where the land is Holy. Since Christ came and revealed his love for the world, it is true to say that all land is sanctified and Holy, and all people are Holy too. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, all have been sanctified through the blood of the Lamb.


Therefore we embark upon the pilgrimage of faith towards the place of death, but then on to the place of New Life. And we will go together, walking in the footsteps of Christ, on this Holy Land.


“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ ” (Ps. 122:1).





Rev’d Oliver Blease


I recently had the privilege of going on another journey – a pilgrimage through the Holy Land with Bishop Nicholas and other Curates and their families.

We began (appropriately enough) in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ. One day we walked down the Mount of Olives, through the Garden of Gethsemane, and into the Holy City of Jerusalem. In the Old City we walked the Via Dolorosa, the ‘Way of Sorrow’, traditionally the path Jesus was forced to take to his crucifixion.