Dear Church Family
I know for many of you, Lent is a time to give things up and develop spiritual disciplines. Over the years I have managed to go without coffee, chocolate, animal products, driving my car and I have even attempted not spending money on non-essential items. Like many of you, I’ve read Lent books, attended Lent courses and wandered around the Stations of the Cross. Never have any of us imagined what Lent would be like if we had to give up church.
To quote a Facebook post I saw this week, “This is the Lentiest Lent we have ever Lented!”
However you are dealing with the situation, I hope you have been able to turn some of despair and negativity we find ourselves in into something positive. Being isolated from each other is something that God can most definitely use. For myself, the sometimes tokenistic giving up of (insert addictive substance/behaviour here) has been replaced with a deepening of my prayers and awareness of what it is to celebrate the sacraments of the church. While celebrating Holy Communion on my own, or just with members of my household, has been strange, in some ways I have felt the connection to the Saints down the ages and to Christ all the more deeply.
Bishop Stephen has written a wonderful article in today’s Spectator about being the church amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In the article, he highlights the practice of the early Desert Fathers who practiced their faith in the isolation of the desert and a cell. He writes,
“Those early monks who fled into the desert were also imitating Jesus in his isolation. They remembered the days that he spent in the wilderness and the temptations he faced. They knew that in isolation they would be able to leave everything behind except themselves and that it would be in that desert place that they would face themselves and learn about what mattered in life.
This might also be a possibility for us. Our own homes could be a desert place where we come face to face with who we really are. Actually, this has already started. Many of us are already beginning to reflect upon the crazy ways we live our lives, the unnecessary journeys we make, the meetings we don’t actually need, the pressure we put ourselves under. Some of us are spending more time with our families at the moment, either because we’re at home or because we are taking the trouble to phone them. The furious deficiency of what seemed important even a week ago is being revealed.”
Perhaps then we can take stock about how we schedule our lives. One of the small delights I have enjoyed is unplugging my alarm clock. I haven’t needed to be woken early, I can sleep longer, and I certainly prefer a darker bedroom than one polluted by the orange glow of the digital numbers slowly ticking by.
I’d like to encourage you to walk the journey of Holy Week as best as you can. If you are able to follow the services on Facebook, then please do log in. I was thrilled to be able to help one of our “older” church family members set up a Facebook account so they can watch the services of Morning Prayer and Holy Communion throughout the week. This was something that was “unthinkable” a few weeks ago – perhaps you could make a shift in that direction too?
If watching services on the internet is not a possibility for you then I would encourage you to read the Passion narrative included in the weekly pew sheet. Maybe you could read it each day next week? Perhaps you could this “Spiritual Communion” sheet in your prayers and worship in the coming days? Download it here:
The Holy Week services are as follows:
Palm Sunday Eucharist – 9.30 am live on the parish Facebook page
Maundy Thursday Seder Meal - 6 pm in your own home! Instructional video to be posted!
Good Friday Tenebrae service – 2 pm live on the parish Facebook page.
Easter Sunday Eucharist - 9.30 am live on the parish Facebook page
The Palm Sunday Pew Sheet can be found here:
And the Palm Sunday service book can be downloaded here:
Please do 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 who are willing to lend an ear and pass on requests too.
The parish Facebook page can be accessed here: www.facebook.com/huttonparish
The Daily Bread Café is continuing to distribute food to those in need throughout this time of national crisis. Food parcels can be collected at least 3 times a week from the hall in St Peter's. See the pew sheet for more details.
With every blessing,