Colin McCahon, ‘Teaching aids 2 (July)’, 1975. Acrylic on paper, 10 panels.

Ash Wednesday services – March 2

Services for Ash Wednesday will be held on March 2, at 8.30am and 5.30pm, in the church and via Zoom (same logins as for regular worship).

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a 40-day journey through Lent. Throughout the churches, catechumens prepare for baptism into a life of radical hospitality.

Preparation (for those joining via Zoom): If you have some ashes or charcoal at home it will be possible to impose ashes and make sign of the cross upon your own forehead or hand.


Mystery of Goodness,
by whose gaze
we are called into being
and held in life:
teach us
the secrecy of prayer
which seeks no reward;
the generosity of love
which forgets itself;
the gift of a treasure
uncountable and unconsumed;
through Sīsū Kalaisi our Saviour.

Collect by Steven Shakespeare, Prayers for an Inclusive Church.


“Do nothing to anyone that you would not want done to you … Give food to the hungry and clothes to those who need them. Whatever you have in surplus, give it to the poor – and always give gladly … Seek counsel from the sages and never reject sensible advice. Seize every opportunity you have to praise the Name of Our God” (Tobit 4:15-16, 18-19a).

“O God, create a clean heart in me, put into me a new and steadfast spirit … Be my saviour again, renew my joy, keep my spirit steady and willing … Open my lips, O God, and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:10-17).

“Don’t store up earthly treasures for yourselves, which moths and rust destroy and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal them. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be as well” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Reflection #1

We repent, perhaps, of modernising zeal. The dream of globalisation – greedy and arrogant notions of progress, free (and unfair) markets; violent notions of the avant-garde, the new frontier, the universal. 

We repent, perhaps, of defensive/paranoid localism – grasping at identity, static notions of tradition; violent notions of blood and soil, hatred toward strangers, immigrants, refugees.

We seek the Wisdom of the transfigured Christ. We seek a safe, diverse, liveable, shareable place. A regrounding. A faithful “worlding” with friends and neighbours, trees and bees. 

We pray that we do not panic. We pray that we do not lose our bearings, or our minds.

We pray for the transfiguration of “progress”. The revolution, the events we are called to confront (the acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks), situated in a recent past. The messianic promise, the Earth itself – life forms intertwining … fragile, robust.

We pray that we might not disparage others, mocking “utopian” or “nostalgic” passions. We pray for a Spirit of understanding, in the hope of forging alliances … new identities, relations … love.

Let us keep a holy Lent.

Reflection for Ash Wednesday by Andrew Collis, 2021.

Reflection #2

In the eastern churches Lent begins on Monday, March 7. Orthodox Easter is April 24 …

Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his invasion of Ukraine in part as a defense of the Moscow-oriented Orthodox church, leaders of both Ukrainian Orthodox factions are fiercely denouncing the Russian invasion, as is Ukraine’s significant Catholic minority.

“With prayer on our lips, with love for God, for Ukraine, for our neighbours, we fight against evil – and we will see victory,” vowed Metropolitan Epifany, head of the Kyiv-based Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

“Forget mutual quarrels and misunderstandings and … unite with love for God and our Motherland,” said Metropolitan Onufry, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is under the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow but has broad autonomy …

Lenten disciplines are not meant to be an indulgence in self-punishment or self-improvement. They are meant to lead us back to grace – back to one another.


We pray that we do not panic.

We pray that we do not lose our bearings.

We pray for a Spirit of understanding,
in the hope of forging alliances …
new identities, relations … love.

We pray for the people of Ukraine.

In the pain of lost lives
and shattered hope, O God,
show us your compassion.

In our anguish at the violence
that we can see in the world,
show us your compassion.

In our despair at the escalating violence
in Russia and Ukraine,
show us your compassion.

From the greed and injustice
that divides the world into rich and poor, O God,
deliver us.

From hopelessness at seeing problems
too large to know where even to start.
deliver us.

From being quick to blame
and slow to respond,
deliver us.

From the desire for revenge,
that adds to the cycle of violence,
deliver us.

For generosity to share fairly
the world’s resources, O God,
hear our prayer.

For steadfast disciples,
responding generously,
hear our prayer.

For families who have fled,
and are trying to survive with nothing,
hear our prayer.

For aid agencies and workers,
responding with practical care
in dangerous places,
hear our prayer.

For churches in Russia and Ukraine,
and throughout the world,
hear our prayer.

Prayers from Act for Peace, 2022.