An Easter Rectory Ramblings

Sunday 21 March 2021

Hello everyone!

I hope this Rectory Rambling letter finds you well. 

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know a bit more about a few things that will be taking place in the next couple of weeks as we walk this final stage of our journey through Lent and toward Easter.

- - - - -

NATIONAL DAY OF REFLECTION

As you know, this Tuesday 23 March 2021 marks the one year anniversary of the first national lockdown.

 

Every time I write that fact down, I feel the need take a moment of pause just to let it sink in.

 

A whole year of lockdown ... and masking, Zooming, bubbling, shielding, social distancing, self-isolating, virtual learning.

 

52 consecutive weeks of virtual Church@Home.

This has been a year when God has united us as a church family ... united us in our commitment to one another, and also united us with a common purpose of love and care, hope and encouragement, comfort and consolation in these times of uncertainty and distress.

This Tuesday we join with millions across this nation to pause and reflect on all we have experienced, all we have sacrificed, all we have lost, all we have received, all those for whom we mourn.

Justin Welby writes, “This Day of Reflection is an opportunity to pause and remember all that’s happened over the past year, to mourn those who have died but also to give thanks for those who have looked after us and our communities.

 

"It is a moment to pray together to our Father in Heaven to comfort us in our grief and to lead us into the hope of the risen Christ and the eternal life he promises.

 

"As we reflect on the pandemic, may He strengthen our resolve to rebuild a kinder, fairer and more compassionate society, may He be with those who are struggling and may He guide us in honouring those we have lost over the past year.”

Here in Oakley and Wootton St Lawrence, we will be marking this Day of National Reflection in the following ways.

- Opening our church buildings for private prayer: at St Leonard’s from 11-1pm and at St Lawrence throughout the day.

- Creating space during the day with God for a short ‘Act of Prayer’ at home or at work (see attached).

- Observing a minute of silence at 12 noon followed by the tolling of our church bells.

- Placing a lit candle in your window at home from 8.00pm to ‘Share the Light’ with our community.

- Gathering at 9.00pm for a special C@H service of night prayer on Zoom.

I would encourage everyone to make space for prayer in whatever way you are able.

 

I’ve included below a few prayers which you might find helpful as we intercede together for our community and our nation.

:: REFLECT :: Loving God, you hold all our times in your hands, our past, our present, our future.

 

Be close to us now as we remember all the difficulties and disappointments of the past year.

 

Be especially close to all of us who are thinking of someone we loved and knew, but see no longer, whether family, friend, colleague or neighbour.

 

Help us to trust that they are at peace with you, and comfort us with your presence.

:: CONNECT :: Loving God, you place us in families and communities, and we give you thanks for all those around us who serve us and help us in so many ways.

 

Give wisdom to community leaders, to our schools, hospitals, care homes and other agencies who make a difference to our lives.

 

Help each of us to have the courage to reach out with thanks and kindness to those around us and to speak words of faith as we share the good news of your love.

:: HOPE :: Loving God, as we journey towards Easter, help us to live as people of hope, knowing that beyond the pain of the cross lies the joy of resurrection.

 

Inspire us in our worship, through our churches and in our homes, that we may bring glory to you and joy to others.

 

Be with those who are struggling in mind, body or spirit, and give courage to those who are facing uncertainty and change ahead.

 

Help each of us to keep our eyes fixed on you, that we may reflect your light to all whom we meet.

More information about the National Day of Reflection can be found here:
https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/get-involved/day-of-reflection
https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/national-day-reflection
https://www.cte.org.uk/Articles/605509/Home/Coronavirus/National_Day_of.aspx

- - - - -

24/7 PRAYER

Our churches have always been a communities of prayer.

 

This moment calls for that more than ever.

 

We have the opportunity to surround this week of remembrance and reflection with a wave of 24/7 prayer.

 

All you need to do is click the link below, pick an hour time slot on the week’s calendar (or more if you would like), and commit to pray. https://www.24-7prayer.com/signup/aa60d2

To learn a bit more about the 24/7 project, take a look at the video clip the team as put together for you: https://youtu.be/M-W870XbKG8

- - - - -

EASTER in OAKLEY

You should have seen references to the upcoming programme of Easter events taking place across the village.

 

At Christmastime different people, groups, and organisations from across our community came together to bring a bit of light and hope and good cheer into a difficult Christmas.

 

And what a result!

 

Building on the successes of that project, a new team has come together to produce a brilliant programme of Easter events and activities for individuals and families and people of all ages.

 

See attached for the programme schedule. It is likely that additional activities will pop up as we head closer to Easter, so do keep a close eye on village and church social media communications.

- - - - -

HOLY WEEK

A week from today is Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week where we are invited to journey in the company of Jesus and enter more deeply in the story of his passion ... his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem ... his last meal with his disciples ... his agony in Gethsemane ... his betrayal, arrest, abandonment, conviction ... his suffering death on the cross ... the haunting silence of his sealed tomb ... and then the dawning rays of Easter and the uncontainable power of his resurrection life.

There are all sorts of ways to walk this Holy Week journey here at St Leonard’s and St Lawrence:

MONDAY – FRIDAY:
- Morning Prayer for Holy Week @ 9:15am via Zoom

MONDAY:
- Private prayer at St Leonard’s Church (1.00-3.00pm) and Wootton St Lawrence (10.00am-4.00pm)

WEDNESDAY:
- Adult Discipleship evening on the Psalms @ 7:30pm via Zoom.

 

Here at C@H we’ve spent a lot of time with the Psalms since Christmas.

 

Join us for an evening of reflection and discussion on what these ancient prayers have to teach us to about the meaning of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.

MAUNDY THURSDAY:
- Join us @7:30pm via Zoom for a live service from the Rectory reflecting on the last meal Jesus shared with his friends.

 

As we are not yet able to hold this service in person (and therefore celebrate Holy Communion), we will instead share in an informal agape meal of bread and/or wine from own homes.

GOOD FRIDAY:
- Private prayer at St Leonard’s Church (12.00-3.00pm) and Wootton St Lawrence (10.00am-4.00pm)

- I will be leading a series of C@H ‘Cross Watch’ reflections on Psalm 22 and the crucifixion of Jesus. These will be available on the St Leonard’s YouTube channel.

HOLY SATURDAY:
- A special service of night prayer @9.00pm via Zoom.

EASTER SUNDAY:
- Easter dawn service at St John’s Garden of Remembrance @ 6.00am, followed by the opportunity to gather in rule-of-six groups and prayer-walk the village – proclaiming the blessing, healing and hope of God’s resurrection life over our community.

- Sue and Jamie will be leading a special Easter service with our 8:00am congregation via Zoom.

- Jo and I will be leading an all-age Easter celebration service from the Rectory which will be live on Zoom from 10.00am.

- For those unable to attend one of our live events, a full C@H Easter celebration service will be available online @ the St Leonard’s YouTube channel.

- - - - -

All that to say that there is lots going on!

 

All sorts of different ways to prepare our hearts, our minds, our souls to encounter new depths of God’s love and grace this Holy Week.

More information about all of these events will be available through communication from the Church Office, the parish website and, of course, our social media pages.

Be assured of our prayers with you and your households.

As we cross the threshold of this year of lockdown, may each one of us know the Father as our strength, our refuge, our rock and firm foundation, our very present help in times of trouble ... may we know Jesus as our light and our salvation, God-with-us in any storm, any valley of shadows ... may we know the Holy Spirit as our comforter and counsellor, the source of our life and one who empowers and equips us to comfort as we have been comforted, and to forgive as we have been forgiven, and in all things to love as we have been loved.

Blessings upon you all.

Peace,
Ben