Dear Church Family,
May I be the first to wish you a very happy Easter! I am sorry that we are still unable to meet together but still hope you find the time to share in the joy we have in the resurrection of Jesus. The range of emotions I have been through over the Holy Triduum has been vast. I was delighted to be able to celebrate a Maundy Thursday Eucharist in the morning (despite technical problems with Facebook!) before sitting down with my children to teach them about the Last Supper and its connection to the Passover festival. Alice, Matilda and I also enjoyed putting together our Good Friday Tenebrae service for you all - working alongside Adrian and Alisdair, two of the most gifted pianists you’ll come across, to provide beautiful classical accompaniments for the reflection times in the service. You can find the video on both the Facebook and YouTube pages. It’s well worth a look.
The joy of being able to provide worship opportunities for the parish was quickly forgotten, as the Food Ministry team received a phone call on Good Friday morning. A father of five children, living on Woodland Avenue had passed away the previous day from COVID-19. I was able to take a food parcel around, with a card offering prayer and support, but was unable to talk with the widow beyond a few words on the doorstep. Needless to say, this was truly heart-breaking and a stark reminder that this virus is dangerous and that we must continue to be vigilant and stay at home – no matter how hard it seems. Please pray for those who have already lost loved ones and especially for the family on Woodland Avenue.
The diocese has been readying itself to say goodbye to Bishop Stephen as he prepares to become the next Archbishop of York later this year. +Stephen will step down on Easter Sunday and will leave big shoes to fill for whoever replaces him. I am grateful for the wisdom and leadership he has shown me over the last nine years.
I am also thankful that Bishop John has been in touch and wants to pass on his love and prayers to you all. He sent an email to the Bradwell Area clergy earlier this week and I thought it would be good to share some of what we wrote with you, as he reflects on the wilderness experience we find ourselves in at this time:
“We find ourselves in the prolonged ‘Holy Saturday’ of emptiness as the day of Resurrection this year approaches us. It is a reminder that the Holy Saturdays, Good Fridays and Easter run parallel in our normal life too – they are not mutually exclusive experiences. I have taken this time to reflect further on human vulnerability. We normally talk about vulnerability as in individuals, but our current situation is a reminder of the vulnerability of humankind. Yet, we should remember that some of us are more vulnerable than others during this pandemic. And some of us are better off – at least financially – by having the normal income but less spending while some of us are struggling to make the ends meet. We need to ask ourselves, “How are we responding to our calling to care for others?”
We are surely disrupted. All our neatly drawn up plans for these weeks or months are disturbed. We do not normally like disturbance. One thing I have tried to do – since I faced a major crisis in my ministry twenty years ago – is to embrace disruption as a critical friend. I am sure that this pandemic and how humanity coped (or not) with it will teach us a lot asking us to re-imagine our lives and attitudes. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (20th century theologian) petitions every Christian to stop and allow for interruption — to cultivate a disruption theology, as it were. It might be in these interruptions God reveals himself in ways we may never have seen or experienced otherwise. God raises visible and invisible signs of the cross in our path to show us that his kingdom is at hand. God might be waking us up to what’s around us to see there’s more to be done than our self-appointed tasks for the day, as important as they may seem.”
Please do reflect on what +John is challenging us to do. How are we caring for our family and neighbours? How are we allowing a ‘theology of disruption’ to allow Jesus to reveal himself to us in new ways? Where can you see those visible and invisible signs of the cross in the day-to-day, that point to the Kingdom of God?
Please get in touch if there is anything I can help you with – prayer requests, food deliveries or simply just a chat on the phone. We have a superb pastoral team that are willing to lend an ear and pass on requests too.
This week's pew sheet can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6jt6sl72zh4s1lz/newsletter%2012%20April%202020.pdf?dl=0
And the service booklet for Easter Sunday can be downloaded here:
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St Peter’s Hall is now open Mon-Sat from 10.15 am to 12 pm for food collections. As you can see from the pictures, the team has been busy in organising the vast quantities of food that pass through the building. We have been blessed with a lot of donations from the groups, individuals and even the Brentwood Council. We even secured Easter Eggs which will be given out to local children this weekend. Our thanks also must go to Lighthouse Furniture for providing us with extra fridges and freezers too.
Do let friends and neighbours know about the work we're doing, so the food can be shared around the community. People can call the Parish Office on 01277 262864 if they need help, advice or a food delivery arranging.
Have a great Easter Sunday - stay safe!
With every blessing,