A message from the Vicar:
Of one thing we may be certain: we have never known a Holy Week like this. The nation is in shutdown. We are all having to learn new ways of day-to-day living and connecting with the people we love and care for. The whole country rightly thanks and honours the NHS and its staff for their commitment and generosity. Community spirit has revived, in the countless volunteers and good Samaritans who are looking out for their vulnerable neighbours.
And just when Christians would normally be coming together to remember Jesus’ death and passion and to rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus to life that has no end, our churches are closed for public worship, by order of the Archbishops.
This seems to me to be the antithesis of one of the central themes of Holy Week: why did Christ come to this world? What was the purpose of his incarnation, indeed his whole earthly life? One familiar answer comes in John’s Gospel: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through him.’ (John 3.16-17)
A less well-known response is to be found in a hymn written by Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith: ‘Had he not loved us, he had never come; had he not come, he need have never died, nor won the victory of the vacant tomb, the awful triumph of the crucified.’ This finds an echo in R. S. Thomas’ thought-provoking poem, ‘The Coming’. (You can find ‘The Coming’ on the right hand side of this page; please read it before continuing).
‘Let me go there, he said’. This points to a mystery at the heart of Holy Week and Easter: that Jesus knew exactly what he was doing; he knew the worst of the world he chose to come to; and he did all this for love of us.
As we walk with Christ through this Holy Week, may the self-giving love of Jesus be in our minds, hearts and souls; and when Easter Day dawns, may our joy confidently reflect the resurrection promise – ‘Christ is risen, we are risen’. May God make this unique Holy Week a blessing for you all.
Canon Charles Stewart
Services - in line with national guidance, all public worship is suspended and the churches are closed.
The clergy will be saying morning and evening prayer daily. You can join us online for morning prayer (see opposite on this page).
The Eucharist: we are no longer permitted to celebrate the Eucharist in our church buildings, but we do have permission for the priests to celebrate at home and make a recording of it. We intend to do this each week in time to be able to share the recording here and on social media on Sunday mornings.
This invites us to consider how we can share in communion when we are not physically present together and when we are not physically receiving the consecrated elements of bread and wine. We can do this by making what is known as 'spiritual communion'. The Vicar has prepared an explanation of this, drawing on an article written by Rev'd. Canon Grant Bayliss, of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. Please read it here: Spiritual communion
The Eucharist for Palm Sunday will be shown on our YouTube channel at 9.30am. Click here to watch it:
You can download the order of service here: Palm Sunday order of service
Today's sermon by Father Jonathan can be watched here:
Previous services and sermons are available in the archive using the buttons above.
A Prayer for Palm Sunday
Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
These are traumatic times for many people. Read here a wise and valuable short piece written by the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral about trauma and tragedy and how they affect us: David Ison