27, Hazle Close
Tel 01531 634035
Email [email protected]
April 25th 2020
From the Vicarage – Easter (3) 2020
As the ‘lockdown’ weeks roll onwards, we have now reached the sixth Sunday where we have been unable to gather in the lovely and varied Churches that make up our Cider Churches Benefice, to receive God’s word and sacrament through our more usual experiences of prayer, musical praise and worship together. However, many regular, irregular, and new Church attendees, are now taking the opportunity to experience worship from a distance too, through the variety of worship experiences broadcast through professional media channels of TV and Radio. There are also new ‘amateur broadcasters’ too, harnessing their creativity in alignment with available technology, to produce live worship through ‘Skype’ or ‘Zoom’, or to create podcasts to be listened to at the viewers or hearers, convenience.
When ‘lockdown’ was first announced I did have a kind offer to create videoed services, but apart from having a horror of cameras in general, I didn’t feel confident in doing a good job of it. Thankfully there was also reassurance from the Archbishops in a letter to clergy that recognized that it would not be in everyone’s comfort zone, and reassured us that we were not to feel any pressure to do virtual services, and that we were not lesser beings if we didn’t.! This week came further reassurance from our own Bishop of that same advice, and not to feel the competitive element of it all. Thankfully I don’t.! However, having been introduced to Zoom by the Aylton House group for a Holy Week discussion and afterwards discovering recordings could be made… I have been experimenting a little with the idea of producing a service for our parishes over the past couple of weeks. My first attempt on Easter Eve had a problem, so was not distributed. However, this week with the assistance of Aylton House group I have recorded an audio only version, and with the help of my nephew Chris (in London) who has kindly edited it together, it is now hopefully available on the following link https://we.tl/t-z60Ij1xWuF or email me for a download. The act of worship that I chose to record is called the ‘Stations of The Resurrection’. We are currently amidst the 50 days of the Easter celebrations in the Church’s calendar, and during these Sundays of Eastertide we read of the joy of Jesus’ resurrection appearances to his disciples in a variety of times and places. The reminder of them and the hope/promises they bring to us at this challenging time seems apt, when we hear of the daily toll of death in our nation and across the world during this pandemic. It is a time when we feel the isolation of separation from one another not only in our Churches but also from our families, friends and work colleagues. Daily we hear heartbreaking stories of some of the individuals behind the grim daily statistics, and are reminded of the agony of grief and separation. The shortest verse in the bible is in St John’s Gospel Chapter 11 verse 35. It tells us that ‘Jesus wept’ with grief when his friend Lazarus died. But Jesus was able to bring the joy of new life again too, when he called Lazarus forth from his tomb to the astonishment of those who witnessed it, and through his own resurrection from death at Easter, also makes that same promise to us.
The resurrection appearance that comes in this Sunday’s reading for the Third Sunday of Easter is from Luke Chapter 24, verses 13-35, and has always been a great favourite of mine. We hear of how two of Jesus’ disciples make a journey of 7 miles from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus, and meet a stranger on the road to whom they tell of their woe at Jesus’ death. It is the stranger who gives them comfort in explaining how what has happened to Jesus fulfils the prophecies about the Messiah, and it is only as the stranger breaks and blesses bread at supper that they recognize it is Jesus himself, and in that moment, he vanishes from their sight. We are reminded this Eastertide amidst the great tragedies of death, that the blindness of grief can be comforted through the kindness of strangers who bring to life for us the hope, joy and a new perspective of the greater power of God in Jesus Christ in our midst.