Letter from the clergy - Sunday 5 April 2020

First published on: 2nd April 2020

Dear Friends

Well I hope you’ve had a good week, and are finding new ways of feeling connected with friends and neighbours in these testing times, as well as settling down after the rapid changes of recent weeks. As we approach Palm Sunday, a day when we would normally process around church with our palm crosses, singing joyful hymns, welcoming Jesus as King in our midst, I’ve been reflecting on worship, and what worship looks like for us as individuals when we cannot worship together as a community of faith.

Our worship has not stopped just because our church building is closed, because of course we the people are the church, so we have to find new ways to worship him, alone, or with the help of some of the services that are available on the BBC or online. Our worship in church is usually expressed in music, prayers, Bible study, and receiving communion, with a sense of journeying together, and caring for each other. But it is also expressed in how we live our lives Monday to Saturday, in how we serve God in the way we live, the attitude of our hearts as we engage with the world, looking for signs of encouragement, and praising him. We are in a season where we need to be more resourceful in our Monday to Saturday worship, which can be energising, but also means having to step out onto new ground. So let’s continue to pray for each other.

Our readings for Palm Sunday tell us how the people of Jerusalem received Jesus with shouts of joy, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, and yet how quickly they turned against him. We hear of the betrayal, and yet how Jesus had also prepared the way, and made provision for his disciples to be nurtured and strengthened after he had gone. I believe that God has not abandoned us, he will help us to find other ways to grow in faith, to grow in love for him in our hearts, and to reach out to others with compassion, and grace, as we realise that under stress none of us respond at our best, that we are all struggling to adapt to life now. As one poster has it, ‘our church is not shut, it is deployed’, but in order to be deployed well we need to be spending plenty of time in personal prayer and worship, and pacing ourselves, so that we are resourced by the Holy Spirit and don’t get burnt out.  

A prayer for Palm Sunday

Today, together with the whole church, we begin this holy week by welcoming our Messiah.
So, like the people of long ago, let us welcome Jesus and follow him to the cross.

Lord, as we remember how Christ the King entered Jerusalem to the sound of joyful shouts,
increase our faith and hear our prayers, so that we may praise you every day, by living always in him. For he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A prayer in the midst of coronavirus

God of healing, surround us with your love as together we negotiate the complexities of coronavirus, and its impact on our nation. Guide us all as we seek to support one another. Help us to be attentive to the lonely, the isolated, the fearful and those who are ill. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved in the effective provision of food, medical supplies, pastoral care, and social support. In the name of Jesus Christ, who walks alongside us in our difficulties. Amen.

If you have access to the internet, do look at the recorded services section on our website where you’ll find Sunday services and the Holy Week meditations that I’ll be posting for you, and links to some great resources from the BBC and the Church of England.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney (07484 181699)

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