Sadly following the announcement from the Prime Minister on March 23 all the benefice churches are closed. For details about what can be done regarding funerals, emergency baptisms etc see the News/Events page.
Rev Tom Ringland:
It’s so good to hear numbers of people are sharing in reading and praying together on Sundays – and for some of you in weekdays too!
In addition, many have been creative in searching the internet for streamed services of worship, either in places you know from the past, or those advertised on the diocesan or national church websites.
Paul encourages us to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances”
and continues, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Three things (rejoice, pray, thank) - clear positive attributes - which are to characterise our day to day living, whatever betide.
If we can develop these in this time of isolation, we will be strengthening our own mental health, and will bring the grace of God to bless those for whom we pray.
There are things to lament but also things for which to give thanks.
Now we are almost two weeks into the lock-down, and with the recognition we have a substantial way to go, we certainly lament that we will not be celebrating Holy Week and Easter in one another’s company –
[ I read today that this is the first time our buildings have been closed for public worship since 1208 – when the then Pope placed England under an interdict for rejecting his appointment of Simon Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury!! - from an article by Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop designate of York. For full article click here.]
We can and should lament … and also for the sufferings of others caught up in this crisis rather more deeply than we ourselves: the sick, dying and bereaved; the NHS, those who's lifework has come to an abrupt end ... But we can also look around and notice where we are now. What is emerging for you?
... Increased support within the community, more frequent contact with family and friends ...
– but also a refocussing on what is important in life and perhaps time to stop and reflect on who we are and where we are going.
Unwelcome and challenging as these days may be, we have an opportunity, perhaps even a responsibility to accept them and use them and learn from them.
Bishop Nick in one of his excellent blogs writes: (March 28th) “When you are in the desert, don’t look for the flowers that grow in the fertile areas; look for the flowers that grow only in the desert”. (see https://nickbaines.wordpress.com/ for more).
Why not begin a record – a journal of your own experiences, thoughts and feelings through this time.
So we come to Palm Sunday and on into Holy Week.
There are two sets of readings for Palm Sunday (April 5th):
one focusses on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem by donkey over a carpet of palm branches and to the cry, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’
– and the other is a lengthy reading of the Passion narrative, this year following Matthew’s account.
The first set (from Matt 21 and Psalm 118) I give below in full.
The second set is
o Isaiah Chapter 50 verses 4-9a and
o Matthew chapter 26:14 to chapter 27:66.
The Matthew passage takes a good 15-20 minutes to read, and, heard in all it’s stark detail, needs little commentary.A great way to engage with this is to listen to it being read by David Suchet.
Go to Biblegateway.com and enter ‘Matt 26’ in the first white box and from the other box select ‘NIV(UK)’ as the preferred translation.
(not all the translations have an audio link)
Hit ‘search’ and when it comes up, you’ll see a small speaker icon on the right hand side. Click on here to listen to the Chapter.
then you’ll need to use the arrow in the yellow bar to advance to chapter 27.
(While you’re there, you can explore other passages, the search function and many other translations and languages – it’s a very useful site!)
God bless you, and those for whom you pray: stay safe, and enjoy the warm weekend from your garden!
Matthew 21 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
2 saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.
3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’
4 This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 ‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.
8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’
11 The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Psalm 118 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
A Song of Victory
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever!
2 Let Israel say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures for ever.
Live streaming of services is more important than ever and is still permissible from homes. We encourage us all to consider how we can be as creative as possible with streaming services and other resources. There are many, many fantastic examples of churches and clergy using technology to reach and engage communities. Read more guidance here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/digitallabs/labs-learning-blog/beginners-guide-going-live-your-service-or .
See also -
• churchofengland.org scroll down for 13 daily reflections, the #LiveLent materials and worship and prayer resources
• arthurrankcentre.org.uk click on 'Together Apart' for a range of resources for rural churches
• leeds.anglican.org click on Covid-19 (the starry screen) for resources including services streamed from local churches