A very warm welcome to any new readers, and to visitors and newcomers to St Michael's. A special welcome and thanks to Fr Paul Matthias, our celebrant this morning, who will also kindly be saying Mass for us on Thursday at 10.30 am. If you are new to St Michael's, do join us in the Vestry Hall after the service, so that we can welcome you properly. Today – Candlemas – is the day when we particularly remember the Presentation of the Holy Child in the Temple.

We all look forward to welcoming Fr John Ainslie as our new Vicar. On 21st March at 7 pm, Fr John will be licensed to our parish by Bishop Rose and installed by Archdeacon Andrew. Bishop Norman will be the preacher. Don't miss this very important and joyful occasion in the life of St Michael's! Can you think of anything you can do to help, particularly with the refreshments afterwards? Please see Alison P. or Sue, who will welcome ideas and offers of assistance - and please see the next page for a message to us all from Fr John!

Valerie Stickland's Funeral takes place at Vinters Park on Wednesday 31st January at 1.15 pm; light refreshments afterwards at The Clubhouse, Matterdale Gardens, Barming, ME16 9JN. No flowers, but donations, if desired (through Family Funeral Services, Beverley Road, Barming, ME16 9JN), to Westie Rescue Scheme or Friends of Canterbury Cathedral. To help with numbers, Valerie's nephews would be grateful if those hoping to attend would confirm at or

Please pray for Lee and for William S., who will be confirmed by the Bishop of Richborough on Sunday, February 11th, at St John's, Higham. As Fr Paul Matthias will be going to Higham to present them, our celebrant that day will be Fr Paul Kish, who has kindly agreed to face a crowded morning in order to come over from Yalding and be with us. Thank you to both Fr Pauls!

Lent is closer than we think! Ash Wednesday is on February 14th - and on Sunday, February 25th, we are having a Frugal Lunch, for which Alison P. will be happy to receive offers of help.

Holy Week 2024 will be special – because it is Holy Week, obviously, but also:- it will be Fr John's first Holy Week with us; Bishop Norman's last Chrism Mass will take place at the Cathedral on the Tuesday; and the Archbishop of Canterbury is planning a Holy Week visit to Maidstone (he may be coming to St Michael's – watch this space!). Let's plan to be around for as much of this special Week as we can.

Canterbury Cathedral Passes? Many people will remember that until recently, members of any church in the diocese could obtain a free pass that enabled them to visit the Cathedral free of charge. Since the system changed in 2023, the old passes are no longer valid. Church members (on a parish electoral roll or equivalent) and people in some other categories can now apply online ( a pass which lasts for 5 years and costs £6. (There is of course still no entry fee if you are attending a service at the Cathedral, or if you are a Friend of the Cathedral). In view of the fees the Cathedral now charges for ordinary visitors, which will certainly increase, the new Cathedral Pass still represents good value.

From our Tower:

Kent County Association, Maidstone, Kent: St Michael and All Angels

Sunday, 21 January 2024 in 43m (6–1–24 in C)

1280 Bristol Surprise Major

1Jacqueline Barlow

2Rona Joiner

3Mike Birkbeck

4Mark Elvers

5Nigel Pointer

6Elizabeth Barnes

7Phillip Barnes

8Neil Jones (C)

80th Birthday Compliments to Eleanor Relle (23/1) and Catherine Lewis (22/1).

Rung on the Saint's Day of Agnes, Child Martyr at Rome, 304.

Readers' List for February:

Thanks, as always, to all our readers. If unable to read on the day listed, please arrange a swap with a fellow-reader.

Sunday 4^th:^ OT Eleanor Relle, NT Alison Heywood

Sunday11th OT Team Kwalombota, NT William Danes-Volkov

Ash Wednesday: OT Ralph Baldock, NT Catherine Garland

Sunday 18th OT Mike Trout, NT Margaret Gatehouse

Sunday 25th.OT Alison Heywood, NT William Danes-Volkov


FIRST READING Malachi 3.1-5 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM 24 Response: Who is the king of glory? It is the Lord.

1. O gates, lift high your heads; grow higher, ancient doors.

Let him enter, the king of glory! R.

2. Who is the king of glory?

The Lord, the mighty, the valiant; the Lord, the valiant in war. R.

3. O gates, lift high your heads; grow higher, ancient doors.

Let him enter, the king of glory! R.

4. Who is he, the king of glory?

He, the Lord of armies; he is the king of glory. R

SECOND READING Hebrews 2.14-18 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

GOSPEL Luke 2.22-40 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;

for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed— and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

Could you pass this sheet on to someone else who might like to see it?

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for the lovely card you signed which arrived with me this week – the photographs of the church on the front are stunning, and show what a special place St Michael’s is. I am looking forward very much to being amongst you and to sharing the next phase of life and ministry at St Michael and All Angels with you. 

Maidstone will be completely new to me, so there will be the excitement of exploring new places, learning about the history and culture of the area, getting to know you all, including the schools and care homes - and finding the best walks for Rosa, my 6-year old Lurcher rescue dog. So I’m hoping for some dry weather !!

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at my Licensing Service (21st March) and it will be very special just a few days later for us to walk through Holy Week and Easter together at the very beginning of my ministry here.  I also have the dates of the August Walsingham Pilgrimage in my diary and I hope that this, too, will be something which many of us will be able to enjoy together as we worship, relax and build friendships in that wonderful, Holy place.

My prayer is that as we go forward into this next phase in the life of St Michael’s, each one of us will encounter Christ afresh in Word and Sacrament, to be renewed in faith and hope and love to be His people in the world – to bring the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ into every part of our parish community and beyond.  And to do it with joy !!

With my prayers,

Fr. John