Hopefully you are all well and looking forward to gathering to worship together again next weekend.
Sunday 21st March 2021 (From Rev Sue)
Today is officially the start of Passiontide, and the set readings start to tell the narrative of the journey that leads us ever closer to the death and resurrection of Jesus. There seems to be a reality check for the disciples, the journey with Jesus has a purpose and a destination, and it wasn’t one that they were expecting. Their journey wasn’t just a meandering with a friend or kicking back at the authorities that had tried to silence his challenging words. There was a clear focus for Jesus, he knew what was to come in order to do whatever was the will of the Father.
The passion story speaks to us of more than a week in the life of Jesus, it speaks to us of his very nature, his very being. He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, made in human likeness, leaving the glory of heaven to live an obedient life of self-sacrifice to restore humans into fellowship with God. Despite the temptations to avoid the pain, the loss, the humiliation and the separation that death brought about, Jesus had to walk the path set before him. And the reality is that the passion of Jesus for our restoration is the same for each one of us, he came so that we could know that the presence and love of God that never ends.
On Tuesday 23rd, on the anniversary of the UK lockdown there is a National Day of Reflection as we commemorate the tragic loss of life over the past year and stand with all who are grieving. For many people there hasn’t been the opportunity to even share their grief with family and friends, the reality of their loss may take much longer to process in the strange times that we have been living through. For some they will be facing the 1st anniversary of a loved one’s death and it may seem that life has stood still. Restrictions still deny many of a hug, of a kiss, of human contact, and many are left to cope with their grief and their pain in isolation. At 12 noon there will be a minute to reflect, and again at 8pm there will be a time when candles can be lit to show our support. Perhaps as we reflect and look at the light of the flame we could pray for those who we know, and those who we never knew, who have died, and for those who have been bereaved, remembering that God’s presence and love never ends.
Jesus came so that we might be restored into the fellowship of God, that we might know the love of a heavenly Father. May the time of reflection and the prayers of our nation bring new hope to us all, and may we journey through the next couple of weeks with purpose, walking alongside those who are lost, those who are unsure of the way ahead, ever closer to the open arms of our Saviour. Amen.
St Mary’s News
The PCC and Standing Committee have been discussing re-opening. As the national rules gradually start to be relaxed we feel that it is timely to start opening up for services again, albeit in a cautious and safe way.
We will be open again on Palm Sunday. The services over Easter and going forward will be:
- Palm Sunday, 28th March, 10am – Service of the Word
- Good Friday, 2nd April, 2pm, – An hour at the cross
- Easter Sunday, 4th April, 10am – Holy Communion
Subsequent Sundays meeting at 10am for worship, details to be confirmed later.
Please note that we will have to continue to wear masks, socially distance, sanitise our hands on arrival and exit from the building and be mindful of groups gathering. Unfortunately, we are still not allowed to sing and processions aren’t allowed. So whilst we can meet to celebrate Easter this year some of the usual activities won’t be able to happen. But when you think back to twelve months ago we can at least celebrate Easter together.
National Day of Reflection
There is a national day of reflection on 23rd March which is the anniversary of the first lockdown. The Church of England has produced some resources to help us reflect on the past year, particularly reflecting on the loss of life and the grief that the country has experienced. They have produced an Act of prayer which you can download here which also includes some prayers which you may wish to use.
This week the sermon is from Jeanette Hartwell. It is attached as a PDF but if you prefer alternative formats you can download here or from the link – https://www.lichfield.anglican.org/diocesan-sermons-2021.php
Signs of Spring
As you will see from the pictures, our Peace Garden is coming to life, with beautiful daffodils and other spring flowers. The last year has been extremely difficult to try and maintain the gardens all around the church and I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to those diligent and faithful gardeners who have offered to help.
There is still such a lot to do and as we open again on Palm Sunday, I’d like to see if we can get some more tidying before then. Picking up branches from the grass in readiness for its first cut, dead heading and cutting back, clearing paths. All are on- going.
It’s such a peaceful place to work and very rewarding too.
Hope for some volunteers next week please! All within the current guidelines, of course, and if you want to check with me before going please do so we can co-ordinate!
Lichfield Cathedral are broadcasting virtual services. The details are here https://www.lichfield-cathedral.org/welcome-back/together-in-worship-from-51120 along with lots of useful links.
Other Churches are streaming worship can be found on the A church Near You website – https://www.achurchnearyou.com/
Church of England has services on line to watch and devotionals to download. These are available at from the home page – Welcome to the Church of England’s official website | The Church of England