Letter from the Vicarage

Letter from the Vicarage. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you”. After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you”. Where do I begin? Well if there was ever a time we needed Christ’s peace it is now. I am sitting here in my study at the end of what has been a difficult week. It is not unusual for my study to be a tad untidy but today it looks like a whirlwind has hit it – and indeed that is what it feels like. We are at the end of a week (if not fortnight) when things have been changing on a day by day and sometimes hour by hour basis. Changes for our community and churches which are unprecedented for recent times. This week churches have stopped holding public worship, numbers of those attending weddings and funerals have been stripped back and reduced to minimal numbers, food has been disappearing altogether from the supermarket shelves – and loo rolls – why loo rolls? Chaos and turmoil has been brought upon families, worry and concern for loved ones as isolation seems to be the order of the day for those people who are deemed to be in vulnerable groups. Schools have now closed, as have bars restaurants, cafes, cinemas and other public venues. Yes, if ever there was a time for a need of peace it is now. As we continue our preparations for Easter, we will soon begin our journey with Jesus to the cross, a journey of worry, concern and fear. Yet a journey which Jesus must make. This year it will be different as we look from afar. And yet, we might argue in our current climate we are entering our own difficult journey into the unknown. So, I wonder, what is it that can help us on our journey, I think the key might be to stick really close to Jesus. On that journey we will no doubt travel with a heavy load as we do not know what lies ahead for any of us. But Jesus knows what it is to carry that load. As a church we would like to offer the opportunity to travel with Jesus as we try to do church or rather be church a little differently for the time being. Some of you will have received a package of prayer resources to use between now and Pentecost (31st May). There is the opportunity to say morning prayer at the same time every morning (9.15am). Rev’d. Liz Hollis & I will be saying morning prayer every day throughout the week, except for Friday when it will be said by Carol Bloomfield. There is a booklet full of prayers and then another leaflet with Compline (night prayer) which can be said before you retire for the night. If anyone who hasn’t received these as a matter of course would like a set, please contact the parish office. Prayer can offer us that time to be still in God’s presence and experience his peace offered through Christ. At the time of writing we are looking at how we might enable the churches to be open for some set times during the week to enable people to call in to experience a time of peacefulness. This can be a time to offer our prayers to God for ourselves, our community and for the world and to listen for his still small voice of calm. Then during Holy Week, we will look to live stream some reflections and prayers. A Good Friday Service will also be said by Liz & me and again we will try to live stream it. It might be a good time to join Facebook for a little while and join the St Mary Magdalene page as well as St Laurence’s page. If you can’t do that, then again join in with the prayers which can be provided for you. However, there is good news and that is of the Good News of Easter. We are already in the privileged position of knowing the joy of the resurrection which is to follow this period of Lent. The early disciples were changed from a frightened and disillusioned group of people to a group of people who gave their lives for one in whom they believed – for what they knew to be true – that Jesus came back to life on Easter Sunday. New life for Jesus leading to new life in his disciples. Four times in the Gospel accounts of the resurrection appearances Jesus said to his disciples “Peace be with you”. This is my prayer for you all this Eastertide, even in this time of uncertainty, because one thing is constant and that is Christ’s peace if we can but succumb to it. Easter will be different for us this year without a doubt. But if nothing else, throughout this Easter and beyond, may the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be upon you and all who you love this Eastertide and for evermore. God Bless, Heather.