The View from the Vicarage: Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday, for Jesus it is a day of last meals, upper rooms, hillside gardens, betrayal and arrest. I have chosen to spend time with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as we pause on Maundy Thursday. Our account is taken from Matthew 26:36-46.

As we spend time with Jesus we see this moment of his life as one of the most testing. Jesus is lonely, he has gone to the Garden with his friends and they have fallen asleep. Jesus is kneeling before God his Father, with the single most agonising moment of his life before him and his friends have deserted him.

Speaking of agony, the mental agony Jesus must have been going through would be immense, about to die a cruel death with no way out – we read in Luke 22:44 “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” The mental agony was paired with spiritual anguish as Jesus returns to pray the same prayer another two times “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Yet the essence of Gethsemane is that despite the loneliness, the mental agony and the spiritual anguish Jesus still says ‘may your will be done.” Jesus prays these words to his Father not through broken and abject surrender, not as a weary resignation or a bitter resentment BUT in utter loving trust.

Despite the loneliness, agony and anguish of the garden Jesus is in control, he is not a helpless victim. Listen carefully to the Garden of Gethsemane and you hear the first murmurs of the final triumph.

Much has changed for us over the last few weeks and there is much tragedy to come, but take heart that even in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. We hear not today the tragic account of an arrested criminal but the willing sacrifice of one who lays down his life for us all.

The song I leave you with is one I have loved for years, one we sing often and one that takes us from creation, to garden and to the cross – and then it asks of us, how will we respond:

From heaven you came helpless babe
Entered our world, your glory veiled
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life that we might live

This is our God, The Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to The Servant King

There in the garden of tears
My heavy load he chose to bear
His heart with sorrow was torn
‘Yet not My will but Yours, ‘ He said

Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered

So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each other’s needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving*

Your friend and Vicar

David

*Chris Llewellyn / Graham Kendrick / Gareth Gilkeson © Thank You Music Ltd., Make Way Music

The View from the Vicarage: Holy Wednesday

Today it is Holy Wednesday  – on Palm Sunday Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, Hosannas ringing in the air. Monday took him back into Jerusalem into the temple where he overturned the tables, threw out the money changers and challenged the heart of the religious system. Tuesday was a day for teaching and wisdom as well as challenging those who would try and entrap him.

Holy Wednesday sees Jesus in the quietness of the village of Bethany at the home of Simon having a meal. I have focused on the account in Matthew 26:6-13

Our host for the meal is identified as Simon the Leper, while I acknowledge some translation issues it could well be that Simon once suffering with leprosy had been healed by Jesus, others were present (including according to John’s gospel Jesus friend Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead.) After the meal Jesus is reclining and a woman unnamed in Matthew’s gospel but named by John as Mary sister of Lazarus shows her love and respect for Jesus with this incredible act of anointing.

Incredible because of the cost of the perfume. A woman would have carried with her such perfume in a jar or vial, the perfume would have been concentrated so just one drop would perfume the whole body. One drop at a time the perfume may have lasted 40 years, yet the woman (Mary) pours the whole jar in this act of devotion, she gives probably the most costly thing she owns in love for Jesus.

The disciples are less than impressed, what a waste of money – this costs a years wages – this could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus responds directly to the disciples shock and concern: firstly the poor will always be with them; secondly she prepares him for burial and then thirdly and most powerfully that this act of love and devotion would never be forgotten – this story would always be told.

Extravagance in love will never stop to count the cost, to check if it can afford it or not, love does not pour out all it can, it pours out all it has. Love has a way of find the opportunity, of seizing the day and the moment before it is too late.

Love pours into the world a fragrance that can not be forgotten by time, loves legacy is permanent. In John’s gospel account we are told that the smell filled the whole house, just think if one drop perfumes the body one Jar would be incredible and the fragrance in the air for days.

Now is a time for love, here in Holy week, here in the midst of Coronavirus Lockdown. If nothing done in Jesus name is wasted or forgotten, what does it mean for each of us to take the cap off of our precious alabaster jar and pour out what we have in Jesus name?

If there is an extravagance in love what does this say to us as a church as we journey on, how do we show that extravagant love to the communities and world around us in Jesus name?

I share with you a modern hymn that you may not be familiar with but you know the tune and the words are perfect. It is by Ken Bible and is sung to Rowland Prichard’s Hydrofoil (the tune for Love Divine, All Loves Excelling). I leave it with you.

Lavish love, abundant beauty,
Gracious gifts for heart and hand,
Life that fills the soul and senses?
All burst forth at Your command.
Lord, our Lord, Eternal Father,
Great Creator, God and Friend,
Boundless power gave full expression
To Your love which knows no end.

Who am I that You should love me,
Meet my every need from birth?
Why invest Yourself so fully
In a creature made of earth?
In Your loving heart You planned me,
Fashioned me with greatest care;
Through my soul You breathed Your Spirit,
Planted Your own image there.

I am Yours, Eternal Father,
All my body, mind, and heart.
Take and use me to Your glory,
Form Yourself in every part.
Lord, Your love brings joy and gladness
Flowing forth within my soul.
May my very breath and being
Rise to You, their source and goal.*

You friend and Vicar

David

 

*Ken Bible, Words © 1986 by Word Music.

 

The View from the Vicarage: Holy Tuesday

As we enter into Holy Tuesday in Jesus life it is a day of teaching in the temple, of parables and wisdom. Jesus speaks into the hearts of the religious leaders of the day and is clear about what is coming.
I would like to spend time with one of the stranger moments of his day, an odd miracle – The Cursing of a Fig Tree – it is told in Matthew 21:18-22 and can also be found in Mark 11.

At first glance it does seem a little odd, or even very odd – it looks like an act of petulance or selfishness, not something we associate with Jesus. This however is not a rash attack on nature but an acted-parable, it is highly symbolic. The Fig Tree (along with the vine) is an ancient symbol of Israel and Jesus points again (as he did in cleansing the temple) to a religion that has ceased to live out its purpose. The religion of the day is not bearing any fruit.

In St Marks gospel it is agued that it is too early for the fruit of the fig, yet they do produce early immature fruit known as taksh, usually eaten by the poor, perhaps a reference to the role of Israel in looking after the poor, the orphan and the widow. Israel were God’s chosen people and they had not shared the beauty and joy of God with all around them, keeping that blessing for themselves. In the worlds of NT Wright former Bishop of Durham “It is although the postman were to imagine all the letters in his bag were intended for him”*

The passage goes on to talk about faith moving mountains and throwing them in the sea – while this is a wonderful image of prayer (and it is about our faithful prayers) we must remember the disciples are walking up the temple mount and the reference is clear.
So where does this leave us on Holy Tuesday?

We need to ensure we are too bearing fruit individually, even in this lockdown there is so much we can do to reach out and care, even if we cannot leave the home we can pick up the phone and be a lifeline to another.

We need to reflect on what God is saying to us as a church, through this passage, through this holy week, through these awful circumstances as he continues to shape us and mould us to bear fruit in new ways.

We have truly learnt to be a church without walls over the last few weeks, we have truly learnt that while our building is both special and sacred it is we together that are called to be are the house of God in this place. I leave you with a modern hymn I love that picks up our theme:

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive;
built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions: all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where prophets speak, and words are strong and true,
where all God’s children dare to seek to dream God’s reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness and as symbol of God’s grace;
here as one we claim the faith of Jesus: all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where love is found in water, wine and wheat:
a banquet hall on holy ground, where peace and justice meet.
Here the love of God, through Jesus, is revealed in time and space,
as we share in Christ the feast that frees us: all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where hands will reach beyond the wood and stone
to heal and strengthen, serve and teach, and live the Word they’ve known.
Here the outcast and the stranger bear the image of God’s face;
let us bring an end to fear and danger: all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where all are named, their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured, taught and claimed as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter, prayers of faith and songs of grace,
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter: all are welcome in this place. **

Your friend and Vicar,
David
* NT Wright, What St Paul Really Said, Eerdmans 1997 Page 108
** (c) Marty Haugen (b.1950)

The View from the Vicarage: Holy Monday

My thoughts and reflections this week are on the last week of Jesus life. I am using John’s account of the incredible scenes in the temple – John 2:13-22

On Holy Monday we find Jesus in the Temple in the midst of all the chaos and the noise and the hustle and the bustle –  the pilgrims and the prayerful the tradesmen and the touts and his emotions rose to fever pitch. It would be wrong to suggest that Jesus got caught up in the heat of the moment. though, we read in verse 15 that Jesus made a whip of cords. He took time to reflect and time to make the whip: the actions of temple cleansing were not done in the heat of the moment. He had time to reflect and think through what he was going to do.

And then the anger of Jesus becomes evident: he drove out the sheep, he drove out the cattle, he scattered the money all over the floor, he overturned the tables, he threw out the dove sellers. No-one was spared the anger of Jesus in that moment. And then he shouts, “How dare you turn my Father’s house into as market!”

This act of Jesus is an act of disruption: not only disrupting the events of that day in the Temple but an act of disruption that cut to the core of the historic Jewish faith and all it stood for. It seems to me that Jesus was saying that the old way of doing faith was no longer appropriate, that the heart of faith had become lost in the ritualism. Jesus is confronting the people of God with a deeply uncomfortable question; Did they need to find the heart of their faith once more?

God is not primarily interested in beautiful worship, he is interested in pure worship – and the two are very different indeed: though not mutually exclusive. But, by the time Jesus visited the temple on that day, the Jewish nation had lost sight of the difference. The purity rituals had become rituals of discrimination: Jews in the Inner Court, Gentiles in the outer court, Men in this section, Women in that section, Sacrifices the poor could afford, sacrifices the rich could afford. Jesus asked a difficult question; Did they need to find the heart of their faith once more?

We are finding new ways to be church. to care for the poor and marginalised, to pray for one another and come together albeit virtually – these changes have been required of us to help fight this terrible virus and save lives – and rightly so.

We are no longer able to receive communion together and I long for the day that we can and we will hear together the words of Christ at the Last Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the meantime as we do not meet Jesus in this way what can we do in remembrance of him? Show compassion to one another. Forgive one another. Love and care for our scared and broken world. Let us continue to do that in remembrance of him, and then when we meet together again the bread and the wine, which symbolise our union with Christ, will be filled with even greater meaning.

We need to reflect on what we are learning in these weeks, we need to hear what God is telling us about how we might be church in the future but in the meantime let us take advise from the Prophet Micah, “What the Lord requires of you is to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God”

Our worship need not be perfect, but it must be pure – I leave you with a hymn written in 1758 by Robert Robinson, one I remember from my childhood re-introduced to me a few years ago by my Methodist friends, a beautiful hymn of praise and worship.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer Here there by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger Interposed His precious blood

Oh, that day when freed from sinning I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in the blood washed linen How I’ll sing Thy wondrous grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry Me to realms of endless day

Oh, to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it Seal it for Thy courts above

Your friend and Vicar

David

 

The View from the Vicarage: Palm Sunday – with a difference!

Life has changed beyond our imagining and so of course has church. Today has so far been the most dramatic change – for today is Palm Sunday.

We would often begin our service outside the open air, we would walk around the parish church waving our palms, or palm branches – we would shout Hosannas and sing together ‘Ride on Ride on in Majesty’ or the more modern ‘Make Way’ – the palms blessed the service begins – palm crosses blessed aplenty and taken far and wide by church members to give to family and to friends – not today.

#palmcross20

Today we were ‘live from the vicarage’ no Holy Communion, no ‘Vicar behind an altar’ but me in my chair – from my home to yours.  No palm branches or palm crosses but the introduction of #palmcross20 painted on our palms. No church building or community centre full of worshippers but a dispersed and committed online community.

Despite our fear and anxiety, despite the very difficult but essential rules we must live by in these times we did it, we climbed a tree and grabbed a branch, we said our Hosanna’s as Jesus made that entry into Jerusalem.

That first Palm Sunday was not spent in a building, the worshippers  were not to sure what they were doing but Jesus was at the centre, just as he was today.

That first Palm Sunday was the start of a very difficult week, a week of pain, anguish and death – just as this one sadly is for us, not just as we remember and worship but in our land and world.

That first Palm Sunday was a journey towards hope, a journey towards something new – let that be our prayer for this Holy Week too. Join us as we reflect, I will be live at 1pm each day and the videos will be on this site later in the day. Join us as we journey together, but above all join us as we pray and walk towards hope and the light of a new dawn.

I leave you with an ancient and traditional Palm Sunday Hymn as we journey on together.

All glory, laud, and honour To thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children Made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel, Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s name comest, The King and Blessed One.

The company of angels Are praising thee on high,
And mortal men and all things Created make reply.
The people of the Hebrews With palms before thee went;
Our praise and love and anthems Before thee we present.

To thee, before thy passion, They sang their hymns of praise;
To thee, now high exalted, Our melody we raise.
Thou didst accept their praises; Accept the love we bring,
Who in all good delightest, Thou good and gracious King.

Your friend and Vicar

David

The View from the Vicarage: I Will Sing A New Song

Todays Psalm is a favourite of mine, not just for good theological reasons –  which I may share shortly but because one of my favourite albums growing up was Under a Blood Red Sky by the Irish Rock Band U2. Their music is still a firm favourite but one song in particular is the song ’40’  it is their own re-working of Psalm 40 which we had in morning prayer. It is one of the Psalms I know the best because I played it over and over, I wore the first cassette tape out completely and had to replace it (yes I am that old).

It is not just the wonderful ability of U2 or Bono’s unique voice though, it is a song of hope, a song of praise and a song of thanksgiving – and then in the style of so many Psalms moves towards lament. Psalm 40 begins with these inspiring words:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

It ends more reflectively:

But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.

The Psalm is special to me because it sums up the way I pray in difficult times, like many I look back to the times when God has been good in my life, times of hope and joy and beauty – those are the times that give us hope for the future.

Right now life has been tough and it will get tougher over the next weeks, hold in your heart those times of hope joy and beauty – this time will pass and we too will sing a new song together!

I have not left the lyrics of a traditional hymn or contemporary worship song, but predictably a link to U2 singing 40 live.

Click here for todays Hymn – U2 Live – Psalm 40

The View from the Vicarage: The Bigger Picture

Todays reflection is based on that epic Old Testament story in the Book Daniel of the fiery furnace, of King Nebuchadnezzar and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – for the full reading click here.

After building a giant golden image King Nebuchadnezzar insists that at the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music all must fall down and worship the image.  All goes to plan for the King until he hears that Jewish members of his Babylon Court Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to comply. Even when threatened with being thrown into a furnace they insist their God will save them, even if he does not they are prepared to die rather than worship anything other then  their God.

So bound, the three are thrown in a furnace that has been turned up 7 times higher than usual, so hot the soldiers escorting them are instantly killed. The King is amazed that he sees them walking around the furnace, and not just three but a forth who ‘looks like a son of God’, they come out of the furnace without even a hair on their head singed.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”

It is a wonderful account and often I reflect on the faith and strength of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – today I have been particularly struck by the actions of King Nebuchadnezzar.

The story begins with him self absorbed, self obsessed – god of his own life, the centre of the universe in his own mind. The story ends with him praising  God, realising the world is bigger, better and more incredible than he could ever have imagined. Nebuchadnezzar sees the bigger picture.

In the last 2 weeks I have seen a huge change in the way people communicate and think, both within our church family and the wider community. Self isolation and social distancing has brought us together in a new and special way. We are reaching out in new ways, phoning friends and family more, crowdfunding and supporting others. We are staying in so that we can save other peoples lives, staying in so we can care for the amazing NHS staff who care for us. Standing and applauding the NHS, lighting canfles in windows all smacks of us being a better people, seeing the bigger picture – a much bigger picture.

We believe of course that the bigger picture leads us to a loving God, the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the God who sent his son Jesus Christ to save us, to beat death forever. I encourage you all to look to that bigger picture .

As we continue in Passiontide I leave you with Isaac Watts incredible hymn that picks up our theme and looks to the biggest picture there is:

When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid me Lord that I should boast Save in the death of Christ, my God
All the vain things that charm me most I sacrifice them to His blood

See, from His head, His hands, His feet Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and Sorrow meet Or thorns compose so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine Demands my soul, my life, my all

Your friend and Vicar,

David

 

 

 

The View from the Vicarage: Don’t Just Stand there …. Pray Something!

I take the title of this blog from an book that was very influential for me in my early twenties as I began to wrestle with my vocation and God’s calling on my life.

The book by Ronald Dunn published in 1992 sought to encourage Christians to pray for the world, for their community neighbours and one another. I still have a beaten up old copy that I found myself reaching for in the last few days.

It has struck me that we have become a far more prayerful church over the last 2 weeks, I see people engaging with daily prayer in many creative ways and it is a joy to pray with you all from wherever we are. This has always been our calling and as a Priest a very significant part of my life and vocation. I found myself looking to the text that Dunn quotes in his book as his ‘core’ Bible verse, it come from Ezekiel 22:30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land ……  but I found no one.” This my friends is not just my vocation but ours as his church, we are called to stand in the gap and now more than ever. To quote Dunn:

“God has always sought intercessors, someone to stand before Him for the sake of the land, but He had a hard time finding them. In Ezekiel’s day God looked for one to stand in the breech between God and Israel. He found no-one ……. God is still looking.”

At this time of fear and anxiety, at this time of very real emergency in our land, in our world we are called to stand in the gap, to be a people of prayer, it has been good to pray together however dispersed we are, please still contact me personally if you want prayers said for specific people or situations, but let us all pray together – God cares, he loves us, he answers prayers I have seen it so many times.

So my prayer for today is that God is with us as we pray, that he continues to mould our prayers and shape this wonderful praying community we have become. I will use the words of an old hymn I know that may not be as popular now written by James Montgomery in the early 19th Century as my prayer:

Lord, teach us how to pray aright with reverence and with fear;
Though fallen sinners in they sight, we may, we must, draw near.

Our spirits fail through lack of prayer, O grant us power to pray;
And, when to meet thee we prepare, Lord, meet us by the way.

God of all grace, we bring to thee a broken, contrite heart;
Give what thine eye delights to see, truth in the inward part.

Faith in the only sacrifice that can for sin atone,
To cast our hopes, to fix our eyes, on Christ, on Christ alone;

Patience to watch and wait and weep, though mercy long delay;
Courage our fainting souls to keep, and trust in thee alway

Give these, and then thy will be done; thus strengthened with all might,
We, through thy Spirit and thy Son, shall pray, and pray aright.*

Your friend and Vicar

David

 

The View from the Vicarage: By Faith ….

In morning prayer we have been following the Letter to the Hebrews,  I am happy to state right from the outset that it is not the easiest of books in the Bible to het your head round but todays verses really are quite wonderful. Hebrews11:17-31

The writer of the letter is looking back to the Old Testament. to times of difficulty and times of trouble and focusing on key leaders of God’s people. Time and time again we get the same message:

By faith Abraham….. By faith Isaac …. By faith Jacob… By faith Joseph …  By faith Moses’ parents … By faith Moses … By faith he left Egypt…  By faith he kept the Passover …  By faith the people … By faith the walls of Jericho fell … By faith Rahab was not killed.

One of the key elements of our faith is just that, faith. When life is tough and we cant see the way out, when the world seems upside down it is about faith. It can be tempting to look at those big leaders and think they had all the answers but they did not, they had faith.

Christianity is about faith, not answers it is not about coming up with the answers but having faith. In a wonderful article yesterday published by Time magazine (Article Here) our former Bishop, Tom Wright says these words:

“It is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope. New wisdom for our leaders? Now there’s a thought.”

By faith ……..

In his article Tom also references the Psalms as scripture that have become essential to us in these days, so here my favourite rewording of a great Psalm of Faith, The Lord’s my Shepherd (I Will Trust in You) by Stuart Townend:

he Lord’s my Shepherd I’ll not want He makes me lie in pastures green
He leads me by the still still waters His goodness restores my soul

And I will trust in You alone And I will trust in You alone
For Your endless mercy follows me Your goodness will lead me home

He guides my ways in righteousness And He anoints my head with oil
And my cup it overflows with joy I feast on His pure delights

And though I walk the darkest path I will not fear the evil one
For You are with me And Your rod and staff Are the comfort I need to know

I will trust I will trust in You , I will trust I will trust in You
Endless mercy follows me, Goodness will lead me home

Your friend and Vicar

David

 

 

 

The View from the Vicarage: Passion Sunday

The last few days have been bizarre for many and there has been much grief within us and around us. In our reading from St John’s Gospel (John11:1-45) Jesus meets us in grief. His friends are in trouble, Lazarus is dying.

As Jesus finally makes his way to Bethany, the news of Lazarus death is spreading, Jesus has arrived in time to grieve and mourn. We have all suffered loss and known grief, and these recent days are no exception as we look out to the world around us, yesterday the death toll of Covid19 reached over 1000 in the UK.

Martha is angry with Jesus for not being there sooner, but hopes beyond hope that there is still something he can do.  Jesus answers Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” As the death toll of Coronavirus increases it is hard to hear God declare that death is no barrier, and it is hard for Martha too she doesn’t understand  but Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life”

Mary comes with the same statement that her sister gave and Jesus stays with this grieving family Jesus weeps with Mary & Martha.  At this time in our world and our nation, as the COVID19 death toll rises, we know Jesus knows grief, he knows what it is like to weep. As Jesus knows human grief, Mary and Martha are about to see what death really means when it stands before the Son of God.  Jesus says “Lazarus come forth” And that promise  “Your brother with rise again” is fulfilled as Lazarus walks out of the tomb.

We live today in a time of fear and grief. We don’t know what lays ahead, it will be scary for many – but we also do know that Good Friday is coming. and what comes three days later “On the third day, he will rise again”.

As we enter into Passiontide, as we take a step towards Holy week and a step further towards Good Friday, let us commit ourselves to walking through it together. Remember amid the grief and the fear that there is hope and I see it all around me, the next few days and weeks will be hard, but the joy of resurrection is to come.

 “On the third day, he will rise again”.  We can all have hope in these words, I leave you as always with a wonderful hymn for Passion Sunday:

All my hope on God is founded; he doth still my trust renew,
me through change and chance he guideth, only good and only true.
God unknown,  he alone calls my heart to be his own.

Pride of man and earthly glory, sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth, tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour, is my temple and my tower.

God’s great goodness aye endureth, deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendor, light and life attend him, beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore  from his store newborn worlds rise and adore.

Daily doth the almighty Giver bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth, pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand at his hand; joy doth wait on his command.

Still from man to God eternal sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising for the gift of Christ, his Son.
Christ doth call one and all: ye who follow shall not fall.

Your friend and Vicar

David

(Painting, Sebastiano del Piombo 1517–1519, Oil on wood, transferred to canvas National Gallery, London)