Dear Friends and Parishioners
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, I offer you the poignancy and joy of this season. I keep you in my prayers, petitioning God for your safety and well-being.
The events of the last week of Jesus life provide us with inspiration and reflection in our present situation brought about due to the worldwide Covid 19 virus. On ‘Palm Sunday’ Jesus entered Jerusalem on a wave of popularity. The crowds were in celebratory mood as they prepared for the Passover and it seemed as if their long awaited Saviour had arrived. But this scene masked the reality of what life was actually like. The Jewish people lived with the fear and oppression of an occupying army and many struggled to make a living. The religious leaders sought to protect the nation by maintaining the political status quo with the Romans. Life was far from rosy. By his life and teaching Jesus made clear how far away the people were from God’s purposes for their lives. In his three years of public ministry, Jesus had challenged the moral, social, political and religious behaviour of his nation, constantly urging the people to turn back to God and so receive forgiveness and reconciliation from their creator.
As that final week of Jesus life unfolded it became clear that the people had not listened to his words. Even the Disciples were not certain what Jesus was intending to do. The last supper that they shared was unlike any meal they had previously eaten together. Jesus washed their feet and offered them his body and blood in the bread and wine – what were they to make of this? Their last prayer time together in the Garden of Gethsemane was a time of anguish and betrayal instead of worshipful communion with God. Ultimately, Jesus was left alone to face a trial, condemnation and execution. It would have been a terrible thing indeed if the story had ended there. But we know there is the joy of the Resurrection; it was sin and death that were slain, not Jesus the Christ, the Messiah. Hope was reborn on Easter Day and lives on in every heart that receives Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Until a few weeks ago when the seriousness of the coronavirus started to become clear, most of us lived comfortable, enjoyable lives. But this masked the reality of our world where many still struggle to make a living, live with fear and oppression, or consider any moral guidance -religious or secular-unwanted in an age where the ‘rights’ of the individual is all important. Popularity is still the yardstick by which much in life is measured, people or ideas gleefully embraced one moment and tossed aside the next. Alas, in our society today Jesus is often still ignored or condemned, metaphorically crucified again. But the resurrection was a once and for all event that does not need to be repeated. But we must constantly retell it, so that each generation may know the living power of the empty tomb for itself. Hope remains alive and active wherever Christians live out their faith in word, worship and action.
With churches closed and most of us confined to our homes, all of our usual services for this time of year are cancelled. However, this doesn’t mean that our worship is cancelled. Using modern media and technology alongside the TV and radio we can still come together to walk with Jesus during Holy Week and rejoice on Easter Day. Shout out ‘hosanna’ on Palm Sunday and wave your palm crosses if you have them left from last year; receive the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday (albeit DIY style!); witness Jesus ’ crucifixion on Good Friday and embrace the joy of the Resurrection on Easter Day.
May the hope and joy of this Easter season be yours. With my prayers and best wishes for you and your families.