Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the period that precedes Easter. Traditionally Lent is a season of fasting and spiritual preparation before Easter. Nowadays, we try not just to give something up for Lent, but also to take up some good habit as well. For Ash Wednesday we hold a simple service of Holy Communion in the evening at St Martin’s. Usually we have a dab of ash placed on our foreheads to show God that we are sorry for the wrong things we do in our lives, and to recognise our need for God’s forgiveness.
Easter is the most significant time of the year for Christians, as we recall the events of the death and resurrection of Jesus. There are special services that are held on different days in the week before Easter that commemorate the events in Jesus’ life around his crucifixion and the resurrection.
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. On this day we remember Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem riding on a donkey and the welcome that the crowds gave to him just five days before they turned and demanded his death. In our service everyone receives a cross made from a palm leaf to remember how the crowd’s welcome changed and resulted in the crucifixion.
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. On it we remember the events of the Last Supper that Jesus held with his disciples the night before he died. In the past we have held a special service of Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday, and at other times we have held a special Passover meal to recall the special meal Jesus shared with his friends on the night be was betrayed.
The word Maundy derives from the latin word mandatum or mandate, which Jesus gave to his disciples at the last supper: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
Good Friday is the day after Maundy Thursday. It is when we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. In the morning we hold either an activity day for children, or a special all age service. Then in the afternoon we have a quiet reflective service, reflecting on Christ’s death on the cross.
Easter Sunday is a great celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, an event which transformed the world.
Pentecost – Late May or early June
Pentecost, also known as Whitsun, remembers and celebrates the day when Holy Spirit was sent on the church. Pentecost is also remembered as the birthday of the church. Pentecost is on the seventh Sunday after Easter. The Holy Spirit (or Spirit of Jesus), is the way in which we experience and encounter God’s presence in our own lives.
At St Martin’s we often have Confirmation services with one of the Bishops on Pentecost Sunday.
Harvest is an opportunity to give thanks to God for the many blessings we have received from him, and an opportunity to think, pray and help those who are not as fortunate as we are. Our harvest service is usually held on the second Sunday of October.
The Annual Memorial Service is a special service to remember our loved ones who have died.
Special invitations are sent to all families who whose funerals have been conducted by the clergy at St Martin’s. However, anybody is welcome to attend, and we find that some families return year after year.
This simple service includes readings, hymns and a short talk. One of the most moving parts of the service is when people come forward to light candles in memory of their loved ones.
Following the service there is an opportunity to enjoy refreshments in the church hall.
At St Martin’s we have a Memorial Book recording the names of those who have died. If you would like to record the name of a loved one in the book, please download a form HERE.
Remembrance Sunday services are held on the Sunday closest to 11 November (usually second Sunday of the month), to remember all those who have died during time of war.
At St Martin’s we hold a special all age service on Remembrance Sunday, which includes a two minute silence.
Christmas is a very special time of the year, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
There are a variety of special services that take place over the Christmas period.
On the second Sunday of December we hold a special Toy Parade Service. At this special all age service, which the uniformed organisations attend, we collect toys which are donated to children living in this country who would not otherwise receive gifts at Christmas.
On the third Sunday of December, we hold a special Messy Church Christmas Party, to which everyone is invited. We have lots of games and activities and food, to help us celebrate Christmas, and be reminded of what the birth of Jesus means to us all.
On the third Sunday of December at 6.30pm, this is a very popular service of nine lessons and carols. The church is light by candles for this very beautiful service, which really gets everyone in the Christmas spirit.
We hold two special services on Christmas Eve. The first at 4.00pm is our annual Christingle Service. This is our most popular service of the year, and we recommend you arrive early to church in order to get a seat. In this service everyone receives a Christingle (meaning ‘Christ Light’), which is a candle in an orange, with fruits and sweets around the edge. The candle reminds us that Jesus, the light of the world, was born at Christmas. During the service all the lights are switched off, and the candles lit. This service includes all the favourite Christmas carols, short Bible readings and a simple all age talk on the theme of Christmas.
At 11.00 pm we hold our Midnight Communion Service, the first Holy Communion of Christmas. Anyone can come, whether you want to take communion or not. The service offers some quiet space to think about the real meaning of Christmas in what is often a rushed and busy time.
We hold two services on Christmas Day. At 8.00am we have a traditional service of Holy Communion based on the Book of Common Prayer, then at 10.00am we hold a short all age service, which lasts approximately 45 minutes.