Pastoral Letter 8th April
My dear friends,
This year we are being asked to engage in the events of Holy Week like no year ever before. Most of us are confined to our homes and there will be no services at St. Mary's.
Down the centuries Christians have gathered to mark these special days in Our Lord's life, to imagine that we were there, the better to experience the full impact of what Christ offers us through those saving events and that our faith be renewed.
The key special moments are these:
1) The Last Supper. (1 Corinthians Chapter 11 v. 23-29) Remembering Jesus sharing a Passover Meal with friends and investing that event with an ongoing way in which we too can feel close to Him. * Perhaps this year, while we are having our evening meal, we can think of Jesus and His friends having supper together 2,000 years ago and give thanks for those with whom we eat, our family and our friends, and pray for Christ's presence to be at the heart of those relationships.
2) The Foot Washing (John Chapter 13 v. 1-15) This is when Jesus humbles Himself, taking the role of the servant, and washes His disciples feet. * Perhaps we can think of some tangible way in which we can serve others: give more to food banks either now or when we are "liberated" from isolation, donate more generously to charities, `phone or write to those who may be lonely, offer to do some shopping for someone, volunteer to work for a charity when the pandemic is over etc. as a physical sign of our commitment to help others.
3) The Garden of Gethsemane (Mark Chapter 14 v. 32-50) "Will you not watch with me for one hour?" * Perhaps as we remember this poignant and painful time in Jesus' final days with us, we can light a candle in the darkness of the evening hour for those in any sort of mental anguish or spiritual darkness, those who feel that they have been betrayed or abandoned, those fearful of the future, for themselves or someone they love and befriend them in the darkness and compassionately align ourselves with them in prayer.
GOOD FRIDAY (John Chapter 19)
Here we remember Jesus' trial, public humiliation, flogging, crucifixion and death.
* This is a time when we can prayerfully link Jesus' suffering 2,000 years ago with those suffering in our world today. You may like to set aside time during the day, perhaps between 2pm and 3pm to be close to Christ as He offers Himself for us on the cross, read the passage from John's Gospel and pray for all those who are in pain or facing death today.HOLY SATURDAY
Jesus is laid in the tomb, late on Good Friday evening. The following day is the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest. All are in their homes. Jesus' disciples are left desolate and devastated.
* Let us use today to pray for all those who are grieving the death of loved ones, of Covid 19, or from whatever illness or cause. Let us also remember prayerfully, all those who are buried in our church grounds, for whom we usually hold a service today.
EASTER DAY! (John Chapter 20, v. 1-18) As dawn breaks on the horizon and birds sing in the morning air - early, before anyone else has woken, Mary Magdelene visits the tomb, to continue her grieving. Here she encounters the presence of the Risen Lord. Filled with the excitement of that experience, she runs to tell others that Christ is Risen!
* We recall Christ's invitation to us this Easter - to experience for ourselves His Risen Presence, to allow ourselves to be filled with this presence and to commit ourselves to taking that loving presence into the challenges and opportunities of our lives. You may wish to open a window or stand in your garden to read the passage from John's Gospel aloud, praying that those around you may also know the presence of the Risen Lord.
This year is, in some ways, a DIY Holy Week and I invite you to spend time following the suggestions above, or finding your own way of marking and entering into these key moments in our salvation history. But on Easter Day, I would like to invite you to join us, via the internet or telephone, for our ALLELUIA SERVICE at 9.30am. You will find the order of service below, which you may like to print off and read through beforehand. You may also like to prepare a small piece of bread and a small glass of wine or some equivalent, for our Communion Service.
What will be different this year is that we won't physically be together for the service, what will be the same is that we will all be mindful of each other and of the Christ who seeks to make Himself known to us in the breaking of the bread.
I hope that each of us will be able to participate in the events of Holy Week this year, in ways which we can use creatively and prayerfully, knowing that we join Christians throughout the world who will be keeping Holy Week and celebrating Easter in a different way this year. May we all have a sense that Christ walks with us, as we seek to walk with Him.
With blessings and best wishes
How to join the ALLELUIA SERVICE at 9.30am on Sunday
To join the St Mary’s Easter Day Service, which is at 9.30am this Sunday 12 April, please click the link below to join (webinar):
The link should work on a computer or a ‘phone.
If you are having difficulty, you can hear the service by calling: 020 8080 6591.
Webinar ID: 364 771 779