Serving God, Serving our Community

Lent at St Mary’s

Why do we do special things during Lent?

In the early church Easter was the traditional time for baptism.  Adult candidates were expected to prepare themselves by receiving instruction in the Christian faith, and undergo a period of self-examination, penitence and fasting.  This took place during Lent, in time for baptism at Easter.  At some point almsgiving was added as part of Lenten discipline.

These old habits of self-denial and almsgiving, meditative reflection and study during Lent have continued.  At St. Mary’s we encourage members of our congregation to do some or all of these.

See below for details of our Lent course, Lent Book, Lent appeal, and Lent services. If you would like to download this leaflet – please click Lent at St Mary’s.

Study – Lent Course

Food, Glorious, Food:  CHOCOLAT

The popular film Chocolat might seem an unlikely theme for Lent, but it’s a big hit with people of all ages. This entertaining film, starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, was originally released in 2000 and can still be enjoyed on many levels.  We will be using this as a starting point for our Lent discussion groups.

Using a helpful guide by Hilary Brand, entitled ‘Christ and the Chocolaterie’, we will consider how Chocolat handles important themes such as change, gifts, attitudes, acceptance  and the meaning of community in a village setting.  Each session will have film clips, plus other ingredients – discussion, activities, Bible passages, refreshments, pause for thought, etc.

The evening sessions on Wednesday, (first session March 13ththen weekly until April 10th) will start at 7.30 pm and last for about 90 minutes (venue to be advised).  Please let Rev Fred Olney know if you are coming.

A day-time course, to be held at Elwell, Mill Lane (Margaret Hill’s home), will start in the week commencing Monday 11thMarch (date and time to be advised).  Please let Tony Staples know if you are coming.

We do hope you will be able to join us for some or all of our sessions.  All are welcome especially anyone who has not yet been on a study course or Home Group meeting.

Study – Lent Book

“The Art of Lent” by Sister Wendy Beckett.

Wendy Beckett was an Oxford-educated Carmelite nun, art critic and writer, who came to fame in three well-received television documentaries on art in the early 1990s.  In this book there is a picture with comment for each day from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Pictures are drawn from a wide range of styles and are grouped in six weekly themes – Silence, Contemplation, Peace, Joy, Confidence, and Love.

If you would like to follow the book please order your own copy.  The book (ISBN 9780281078554) is available for £6.90 post free from Wordery ( or various other sellers at a slightly higher cost.

After the end of Lent we hope to have a Lent “Book Club” evening to discuss the book and pictures.

Charitable giving – Lent appeal

If your self-denial in Lent involves giving up something that costs money you may like to put aside the money you save and give it to our Lent Appeal. Alternatively you may just want to make a donation.  There will be an opportunity to bring your Lent Appeal donations to church shortly after Easter.

Each Lent we support two charities operating in very different spheres, one at home and one overseas.  Each is a way of expressing Christian care and concern for others.

Homeless Care (formerly Maidstone Christian Care)

Our home charity this year will be Homeless Care, a charity which has been working in Maidstone for over 30 years to support homeless and vulnerable people.

Over the years much has changed but its focus remains on helping people going through a difficult time in their lives and does that through several projects.

Its main activity is running a comprehensive service for homeless men and women at Maidstone Day Centre in Knightrider Street.

The foodbank, Food for Thought, is now in its 13th year, and more than ever in demand, by people who would otherwise go hungry.

Goodwill House is a shared house for homeless men, gifted by a local philanthropist.

Maidstone Christian Care, the name they started with in 1986, remains their link with the local churches who have supported their work from the beginning.

Embrace the Middle East

Our overseas charity will once again be Embrace the Middle East (EME), a Christian charity operating across the divides in this troubled area, bringing the touch of practical Christian compassion to all, irrespective of race or religion.  The examples below give an idea of the range of work EME is involved with:

Caritas Jerusalem – Working throughout the West Bank and Gaza, Caritas Jerusalem offers healthcare, job creation and development, microcredit, social services, youth services, advocacy and emergency response through a comprehensive range of projects and centres.

Al-Kafaàt Foundation – Located in Beirut, Al-Kafaàt Foundation enables disabled and disadvantaged Lebanese people to contribute to society.

Bethany Girls School – Bethany Girls School provides an education to children from the West Bank, enabling Christian and Muslim children to learn together.

El Saray Church and Fairhaven School – offers the urban community of Alexandria a wide range of services, from education to shelter and healthcare.

Lent services

Reflective worship

Each Wednesday during Lent we hold S.P.A.C.E. at 9.00 am.  This service starts with a period of silent meditation, perhaps triggered by the picture and reflection on the order of service or just drawn from your own thoughts and prayers.  This is followed by some brief prayers and a simple act of Holy Communion.

This Lent we will be integrating our SPACE services with the Lent Book, using pictures and reflections taken from “The Art of Lent” by Sister Wendy Beckett (see details earlier).


Other services

All Age Worship, 9.30 am on Sunday 31stMarch, will be a special Mothering Sunday Celebration, but otherwise during Lent our normal pattern of worship continues unchanged.

Holy Week

Monday, April 15th

Tuesday April 16th

Wednesday April 17th

7.30 pm         Archbishop Justin Welby will be giving a series of three lectures in Canterbury Cathedral. Lectures last for approximately 1 hour and are followed by a short evening service.  Details of this year’s topic are not yet available.

Maundy Thursday, April 18th

7.00 pm         Simple meal in the church, followed by Holy Communion

Good Friday, April 19th

10.30 am      Service of Meditation at Trinity Church, Sissinghurst

Easter Sunday, April 21st

5.45 am         Sunrise Service, followed by breakfast in church

9.30 am         Easter Holy Communion – families welcome