Letter to parishioners, 9 April 2022

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

What is most occupying your mind at the moment? The war in Ukraine and the military and political tensions that are surrounding that horrific violation of all that we hold dear? The national and international fuel crisis that is forcing many into having to make a choice between eating and heating? The rising cost of food and just about every other commodity we buy on a daily basis? The integrity, or otherwise, of political and business leaders? Sadly, this list could fill this whole page without ever coming to the point of what should be on our minds in the coming days.

Tomorrow, Palm Sunday, our journey through Holy Week begins. On Ash Wednesday many made pledges of fasting, prayer, service and a deeper engagement with scripture. Now we enter the time of reckoning. No one asked what our Lenten disciplines were going to be, and no one will ask whether you adhered to them. No one will point the finger of blame or disappointment if your good intentions faltered and failed before today. The observance of those Lenten promises was, and is, a matter between ourselves and God. No one else is involved, and nor should anyone else be involved.

Whether our will power held out, or not, we still find ourselves at the beginning of Holy Week. Perhaps that thought will spark panic over the purchasing of Easter Eggs and the planning of a family meal. Perhaps some of us are thinking of a time of holiday, rest and refreshment. Whatever is going through our minds at the moment, whether our thoughts are focused on international, national, local or personal concerns, we should all be preparing for our journey through this most holy time in the year.

On Sunday we will hold aloft our Palm Crosses and remember the crowds who shouted ‘Hosanna’ as Jesus entered Jerusalem, just days before his arrest, show trial and execution. On Thursday we will gather to recall Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper. On Friday we will hear the shouts of the crowds turn from ‘Hosanna’ to ‘Crucify Him!’ This Holy Week is an opportunity for us to pause and reflect upon our place in the story of Jesus’ final days on earth. There are so many horrors being perpetrated in the world at the moment, just as there were when Jesus lived among us. Over the last two thousand years humanity has continued to ‘pass the buck’, to fail to take responsibility for its own words and actions. Just listen to the leaders of this world … it is always someone else’s fault! Sadly, we are just as guilty in our daily lives.

Approximately two thousand years ago, Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to bring God’s forgiveness and love into our lives. That is a reality that is acknowledged by all who profess a faith in Jesus Christ. But … what difference does it make to the way in which we live? There are still those who refuse to speak to their neighbours. There are still those who speak of hate and revenge, rather than forgiveness and love. There are still those who would rather do harm than good.

This week there are many opportunities for us to gather in prayer and worship. I pray that we might use those opportunities to step outside the ‘comfort zones’ we have created for ourselves as we renew and revitalize our relationship with the God who sent his only Son into the world in order that we might come to know the joy of his love, forgiveness and eternal life.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen