Well into the second week of ‘Lockdown’, most of us are settling into some sort of routine. Lots of people are talking about a ‘new normal’ but I don’t think we’re there yet. And there’s no rush – it looks like we might have months to practice this new ‘normal’. Is it just me that feels daunted by that? Especially as we see the weeks stretching ahead and know that we can’t visit our relatives, or hug our friends, or stroll down the street without a mental (or physical?!) 2m broom handle between us and our neighbours. How can we find normality in that? How do we find connection, community and society?
I have never been one for technology. I’ve only had a smart phone for 2 and a half years. We don’t have Netflix or Spotify or Amazon Prime in the Vicarage (and I’m still only vaguely aware of what these things are!). But in this strange and challenging time, I have found the wizardry of technology to be a real blessing. I have skyped for the first time, used Zoom for the first time and live streamed worship (not for the first time, as we have done this before from church). Imagine if all this had happened 20 years ago, even 15 years ago. We would have been even more isolated from one another.
I am conscious that some of you reading this are not online, so I am sorry for the preceding paragraph! At least we have addresses and phone numbers so we are able to stay in touch by ‘phone and paper. Do give me a ring if you would like to chat. And if you would like to be partnered with someone for prayer get in touch and I will partner you with someone. Prayer can be very effective on the ‘phone – you may like to use the Daily Prayer Booklet or the Spiritual Communion sheet you’ve received.
We are about to enter into Holy Week. It will be one of the strangest the Church has ever celebrated. But Holy Week is full of strangeness. God’s only Son enters his own city as a king… riding on a donkey. The crowds acclaim him as ‘Son of David’ (a royal title) on Palm Sunday… the same crowd condemns him as a pretender on Good Friday: ‘Crucify him!’. The Lord of all stoops to wash dusty human feet. He breaks bread and says, ‘This is my body’. God suffers and dies in his humanity on the cross. The one who knows us all by name is laid in a stranger’s tomb. Expecting to anoint a body, the women are greeted by angels: ‘He is not here; he is risen’. It couldn’t get much stranger than all that. Perhaps in more normal circumstances we take it for granted? Perhaps the strangeness of our own circumstances will bring out the strangeness, the life-transforming nature of Holy Week.
At the heart of it all is Jesus. He becomes more and more distanced from his people, his disciples, and even his Father. He becomes physically, socially and spiritually distant. He is completely cut off on the cross. The one in whom all things hold together and from whom everything has its being becomes totally isolated for us (see Colossians 1.15-20). Yet on the first day of the week, the first day of the new creation, he becomes the resurrection and the life, he brings everything back into wholeness. He is God’s own promise that nothing can separate us from his love.
In this strange time, let’s ask God to help us reflect the hope-filled message of Holy Week. Let’s be people who help to keep hope, wholeness and connection flowing in our community. Let’s be people who live the truth that nothing – not even this strange ‘new normal’ – can separate us from the Love of God we find in each other. As symbols of this, I’m inviting you to hang a green branch on your front door or in a window on Palm Sunday.
Below is an outline of our services this Holy week (all available on our Facebook page or via our website). I have indicated where these are live-streamed and which services will be available as hard copies. May each of you have a blessed and Holy Week.
With my love and prayers,
All Saints Vicarage
Commemoration of F. D. Maurice, 1st April 2020
SUNDAY 5th April: PALM SUNDAY
9.30am Live Stream Eucharist. * NB Please make or draw a cross or palm to be blessed!
11.15am Children’s reading, talk and prayers
Tue – Fri Live Stream Morning Prayer 8.30am & Evening Prayer with a reflection 5pm
Maundy Thursday 9th April
7.30pm Live Stream Eucharist of Maundy Thursday *
Good Friday 10th April
9.30am Children’s reading, talk and prayers
10am Live Stream Stations of the cross *
12noon Live Stream Liturgy of Good Friday *
Saturday 11th April
8.30pm Live Stream The Vigil Readings * †
SUNDAY 12th April: EASTER DAY
9.30am Live Stream Eucharist of Easter Day *
11.15am Children’s reading, talk and prayers
* Hard Copy booklet for those not online
† The Vigil Readings will be listed in the back of the Liturgy of Good Friday booklet