It might sound like a contradiction but at a time of isolation and fear there have been so many signs of engagement – pastorally and spiritually. We have all experienced the coming together of neighbourhoods and communities through this Covid-19 virus. For the first time in many people’s lives, the vulnerable and forgotten are being thought about! We have a common cause – to protect one another and give each other hope. There’s a little bit of Kingdom culture being established on earth.
Having said all of that, I do not want to belittle the scourge of this virus and the dangers that many people are facing and the ultimate test of it which could be death. Jo and I have been suffering from the virus which has manifested itself differently in both of us. I thought it was a mild dose earlier in the week only to be pole-axed by it in the last couple of days. I’ve had a fever and bouts of aching throughout the body. Jo is suffering from a shortage of breath. We are fine! We have a brilliant support network – the boys are exercising Thor in the garden – and we have a wonderful parish care network which is busy in prayer!
Our lived experience makes us even more concerned for those who are really ill and for those who care for them – our NHS and all the care providers. Please do look after yourselves and any others who you have oversight of. I am pleased that the rainbow cluster care network is up and running. I hope that this may continue to provide spiritual and pastoral support.
We are entering into the holiest of holy weeks. Palm Sunday represents Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. He attracted crowds. Voices of joy shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” In the past on Palm Sunday we have gathered in Summertown Parade and processed to church with our palm crosses raised to the skies singing, ‘All glory, laud and honour to thee, Redeemer King.’ The prospect of no public worship this Holy Week feels wrong. The opportunity to live Christ’s passion has always been, for me, a life-giving and faith-awakening experience year-on-year. We will be somewhat depleted without the journey to the cross and the vital story of Jesus through the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday, the agony of Good Friday, the anticipation of hope and Easter light on Holy Saturday and finally, the feast of Feasts on Easter Sunday.
I have tried to include as many links and media threads as possible so it might be possible to have a Holy Week experience at home. In the days to come, I will be sending posts which have homilies or reflections from members of our wonderful clergy team. Please look out for those, and , again, where possible, I will include a reading sheet.
I am delighted to say that we have been able to convert Claire Sadler’s Stations of the Cross on to our website. Please take 15-20 minutes each day considering Jesus’ final journey to the cross. Thank you to Claire, Steve and Willie for making this possible. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCbHgO5sfvs&feature=youtu.be.
I have attached the readings for Palm Sunday. Each week, I will attach the readings in this way so that you are able to reflect upon God’s word week by week. I have also attached a Palm Sunday reflection which, I hope, you may find helpful. Please also see this wonderful biblical reflection on Mark 1: 12-13 by one of the Taizé brothers on how to live in these times of isolation and learning to live in the wilderness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYeKH-ogEOQ
From our own diocese, I would like to commend to you the Sunday Eucharists which are being live streamed. You can catch them here: https://vimeo.com/402963043For the whole programme of live streamed events this Holy Week, please ee this poster. You might want to make other people aware of this opportunity in your colour cluster? https://www.oxford.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/DOX-033-Easter-poster-v3.pdf?utm_source=Diocese+of+Oxford+Mailing+Lists&utm_campaign=850c4f26e1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_07_04_41_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e6b832234-850c4f26e1-339828577
FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG FAMILIES
I am mindful that we don’t forget our children in all of this. We are aiming to find a way of keeping in touch more directly with the children. In the coming weeks we will be sending more information which will directly focus on the nurture of our young people’s faith (we have an adult network in place and need something now for the children too). Alyson Peberdy has helpfully sent this link for children with toddlers with Palm Sunday worship in mind: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=diddy+disciples
Our friends at Wolvercote Baptist Church are ambitiously putting on a virtual Messy Church at home, they on Sunday 5 April at 3.30pm. They’ll be exploring the Easter story. You can tune in by emailing Sophie Aldred firstname.lastname@example.org who will give you more details about how to take part and how to make the crafts and activities before the session begins.
God bless you all as we enter Holy Week distanced but together!