Letter

Dear Friends
During Lent we reflect on the way we live our lives and the
choices we make in the light of the person of Jesus Christ. We
acknowledge on Ash Wednesday that we are dust and to dust
we shall return and accept that we need to turn from thoughts,
words and actions which are life denying and take up ways of
being that are life affirming and of God. Lent can be a time of
struggle as the Spirit encourages us to draw closer to Christ and
his ways.
The priest and poet George Herbert (1593-1633) was a man who
struggled with God’s call upon his life. Herbert was an
outstanding student of the classics at Cambridge and at 26 was
elected Public Orator of the University. He was a successful
young man with a promising and prosperous future. However,
he believed himself called to be a priest. After some struggle he
chose to say yes to God’s call on his life and became the parish
priest at a small church on the outskirts of Salisbury called
Bemerton in 1630. Herbert wasn’t a well man and shortly before
he died at the age of 39 he gave a messenger his notebook to
deliver to his friend and fellow priest Nicholas Ferrar with the
instruction: Tell him he shall find in it a picture of the many spiritual conflicts
that have passed betwixt God and my soul, before I could subject
mine to the will of Jesus my Master, in whose service I have now
found perfect freedom.’
In the notebook was a collection of 167 poems. Ferrar published
it under the title The Temple. It went through four editions in
three years and was steadily reprinted for a hundred years, and
is still in print today. Herbert’s choice to follow where God led
meant that though his ministry as a priest was only three years
long as an encourager of other followers of Jesus his ministry
continues today. Three of his poems are included in Singing the
Faith.

Collect for 27 February. Almighty God, you called your
servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honours
to be a pastor of souls and a poet: Give us grace, we pray,
joyfully to dedicate all our powers to your service; through
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Have a good Lent by entering the struggle – by allowing the Spirit
to guide us further in to the ways of Christ.
Audrey Simpson
The three hymns in StF are numbers 56; 57 and 668