The Vicar's newsletter: 5 April 2020
I wonder what sort of a week you’ve had. Some of you, I know, will have been busy and stressed, working in testing circumstances be it outside or within the home; some will have been looking after others, again in their own household and/or remotely; and some will have been dealing with solitude and inactivity. You are constantly in my thoughts and prayers as you face the different challenges of these strange and surreal times. I hope you will find the resources in, and attached to, this newsletter helpful. Do clink on links to find whatever would be most nourishing and refreshing for you.
Please see our prayers, readings and my reflection here. Thanks to Graham Stone for the lovely photo of the little donkey at Westland Farm.) It is, of course, Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Although we cannot observe together all the special devotions and rituals of this week, I hope you will join me in keeping it as the most significant week in our Christian year. Perhaps begin outside, if you can, on Sunday morning with your own procession round the garden, reading the Gospel for the Palms and take time later to read the Passion Gospel, slowly, attentively, allowing the locations and atmosphere, the characters and their actions to come to life afresh. I also attach a booklet of Matthew’s Passion Gospel, sent out by another church for use at home http://stlaurencescalby.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Passion-at-Home.pdf on your own or with others in your household, which is creatively put together and which you may like to use.
I will be sending further prayers and reflections out for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day next week so as not to overwhelm you with attachments but see below as well.
For families with children at home: Make your own ‘palm’ cross out of paper or card using this video; you could also blu-tack one to a window as an act of witness.
From our Diocese: Weekly Sermon for Palm Sunday will be posted on our webpage on Friday afternoon, alongside the wording of the sermon for download. https://www.cofeguildford.org.uk/about/coronavirus-guidance A reminder will be issued on our Facebook group signposting when this becomes available.
Diocese: There will also be Holy Week and Easter resources available on the diocesan website, including links to a streamed Wintershall event (featuring Bishop Jo) and a Cathedral meditation on Good Friday afternoon. The Radio 4 broadcast on Easter morning will be from Guildford, with Bishop Andrew as the preacher.
The Wild Worship Field Guide at http://thesanctuarycentre.org/resources/creative_prayer_idea_wild_worship_field_guide.pdf is ideal for a meditation as you take your daily exercise across the field or round your garden and can be done with all the family too. Do make us of it over the coming weeks.
Spring Harvest Home: Spring Harvest events deliver Bible teaching and space to seek God’s presence through Spirit-led worship to all ages. With the cancellation of Spring Harvest across different UK locations, the team has pulled together an interactive online programme accessible for those who are looking for fun and faith-filled content during this time. This free, online conference is called Spring Harvest Home and is accessible for everyone who has access to YouTube, whether they are a fellow Spring Harvester attendee or not. The event will commence on Monday 13 April and continue until Friday 17 April. Watch this video to find out more.
Church of England: On social media, there will also be daily reflections from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of England will launch a Stations of the Cross podcast series and short films which explain the various facets of Holy Week, together with daily audio of Prayer During the Day, Night Prayer, and Sunday service broadcasts. All will be signposted from the Church of England social media channels and website. Read more about Holy Week and Easter in this Church of England blog.
Prayer of the week
Lord, your love is broken open among cheering crowds and traitor’s coins, deserting friends and hands washed clean, the mockery of power and the baying mob: as we follow your way of passion, give us the faith to bring our weak and divided hearts to the foot of the cross and the door of the guarded tomb that they might be opened, astonished and healed; through Jesus Christ, who carries the weight of the world. Amen.
(Steven Shakespeare, ‘Prayers for an Inclusive Church’)
Do let me know if you have any particular prayer requests and keep me updated on your own situations.
With my love and prayers as ever,