Letter to parishioners, 2 April 2021

Good Friday, 2 April 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

As I write we are coming towards the end of our journey through Holy Week.  This year we have been joined in our worship by the Bishop of Grantham. We have celebrated the institution of Holy Communion and the giving of the new commandment of open and unconditional love on Maundy Thursday, and today we have meditated, reflected and prayed before the cross. On Holy Saturday evening, at our Easter Vigil, the new fire will be lit, the Easter candles for the coming year will be blessed, we will renew our baptismal vows and we will rejoice in Christ’s victory over death as we acclaim that Christ is risen indeed.

Lent and Easter 2021 has differed from Lent and Easter 2020 because, this year, we have been able to gather once again. We have been able to gather in prayer and worship, and we have been able to join in the holy meal that feeds, sustains and strengthens all who profess the Christian faith. Despite the masks and social distancing we can know something of the fellowship that is an essential feature of belonging to a church community. This weekend, when many of us gather to celebrate the glory of Christ’s resurrection, we will have something else to celebrate. Since our first lockdown began in March of last year, four of our churches have been closed for worship. While we are not yet in a position to reshape our patterns of worship and restore some level of regular public prayer and worship across the benefice, we are going to celebrate Easter Day in five of our six churches. We will not be able to sing of Christ’s resurrection with our voices but our hearts will be overflowing with resurrection joy.

For those still struggling to leave their homes there was a Zoom service of Evensong on Palm Sunday. This was appreciated by those took part in the service. There will be a similar service at 4pm on Sunday, 11 April. The Zoom invitation will be included in next week’s letter.

This letter also brings the good news of our Easter Offering. A few weeks ago I invited you to consider making a charitable donation to St Barnabas’ Hospice in Grantham. Our local hospice provides a marvellous service for those in need of end of life care. During the last year the hospice’s fund-raising activities have been severely curtailed. I invited you to contribute to a benefice collection in support of the hospice.  I am delighted to say that, to date, we have raised £1005. If you have not yet made your contribution there is still time, I will be transferring our donation to the hospice on Bank Holiday Monday. This is a wonderful example of how we can answer our Lord’s call to care for those less fortunate than ourselves, of how we can live out Jesus’ command to love one another as he has loved us.

There is still much uncertainty regarding our immediate future. But the events of Holy Week and Easter remind us that this is a road that has been travelled before. The hope of the disciples was shattered by the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. The joy of the resurrection and the power of Pentecost were yet to come. But, we are in a stronger position than those first disciples. We do not only know of the resurrection as an historic event, we know its power and its joy. Let us remember that joy as we give thanks to God for his redeeming love in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

With every blessing for a joyous and blessed Easter to you all,

Revd Stephen