Church of England Diocese of Oxford Islip

Palm Sunday 5 April

4 Apr 2020, 8 p.m.
Easter Lent

Rev Lucy writes: Dear Friends

Another week has passed and we are approaching Palm Sunday, the day when traditionally we would have gathered outside churches to begin our services and hear the reading of the Palm Gospel before processing into church waving branches and receiving a palm cross. Although the weather promises to be perfect for the occasion, it's not to be this year. Nevertheless, for those in Islip, David & William will once again be playing some seasonal hymn tunes on their trumpets from our garden at 9.45 am as that seems to be appreciated by those who can hear it and, once again, we will record and publish online later for those who wish to listen.

Once again there will be a diocesan service led by one of our Bishops, live-streamed at 10am on the diocesan website (and of course many other live streamed services at the same or different times from other churches with which you might have connections).

I'm planning to record a service (with readings, music, prayers and reflections) which, technology permitting, will be available on the St Nicholas website and here by tomorrow morning. You might like to watch it at whatever the usual time of your parish's service would have been but it will remain available through the day and beyond.

Thinking about the palm crosses, I have considered different possibilities for distributing these but, in view of the directives, have decided to eliminate all risk of transmission by not doing so. However, the diocese is encouraging everyone to take some time before Sunday to make their own cross for the occasion. Ideas and simple suggestions are here https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-…/…/palm-sunday/ (and this page also has details should anyone wish to send a photo of their cross for display during the diocesan live streamed service ).

I would encourage you to have some kind of cross with you for holding during the service I am offering, if you can, (whether a palm cross from previous years or one you have made as suggested above).

Perhaps, after the service, you could display it in a window with a note to the effect that it is Palm Sunday to remind those passing your house.

This leads me on to look towards this coming week which is Holy Week, during which the church remembers Christ's final days in Jerusalem as the tension between him, his disciples and the authorities mounts before culminating in his betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

Again there will be live-streamed events throughout the week, offered by the diocese as listed here:

https://www.oxford.anglican.org/…/DOX-033-Easter-poster-low…

I am hoping to offer something for Good Friday and my colleagues in the benefice team may have other resources to offer.

However, even as we have to go without many of the usual opportunities for worship this week, let us not overlook the opportunities for witness. Why not, instead of inviting people to come into the church to experience Holy Week, think of ways we can bring Holy Week to our community? Maybe with a notice, picture or creative display in our windows/porches/gardens to draw attention to the events we are commemorating during the week (Palm Sunday - entry into Jerusalem; Wednesday - anointing of Jesus by woman with alabaster jar of ointment; Thursday - last supper, footwashing, agony in Garden 'Lord, take this cup from me', arrest; Friday - trial, purple robe, crown of thorns, flogging, crucifixion). I am sure you can come up with your own creative ideas.

Whatever you can do, let not the solemn significance of this week go unnoticed, at the very least, by ourselves - as I am certain there will regrettably be many occasions for reflecting on how the events of Christ's passion are resonating with the events we are witnessing and experiencing all around us.

And whatever happens, we will find ways to mark and even celebrate Easter Sunday next week since it is the Easter story which provides the ground of Christian hope in this darkest of situations.

With my love and prayers.

Lucy