Dear St Raphael friends,
I hope that you and those you love have been keeping well this week. You are of course, always in my prayers, and since it is Friday, I would like to ask you if any of you or those you love would like to be included in our written prayers for Sunday? If you could let me know any names by tomorrow morning that would be most helpful – thank you.
You will receive a written order of service and reflection this week as usual. Could I put out my usual plea for those of you who are able to leave your house to pop a paper copy through the door of any congregation members who are not on email please? It may be, that this week for those of you who wish to engage in this way, that there will also be a YouTube video up of me and the family participating in the service that you can join in with, with your orders of service at 10am on Sunday. I say “may be” because I am not making any promises that I can get it to work satisfactorily! I realise that YouTube is not going to suit everyone, so be assured that if you choose to read the order of service quietly in your home, you will still be joining in with the worship of the whole Church.
Plans for Holy Week.
Our Holy Week will look very different this year. Some will miss the regular round of services in Church that help us to walk with Jesus in the last week of his life. For others, the restrained circumstances in which we find ourselves may offer an opportunity to keep Holy Week more fully that we have previously managed.
DIY Holy Week Perhaps some of you would like to make an Easter Garden in your own gardens or homes this week, or create a piece of art? If you do this, it would be wonderful if you would like to send a photo through to share it with the congregation.
For those of you with children or grandchildren at home, you might like to act out some of the stories from Holy Week – I can send you the relevant stories from the Lion Storyteller Bible if you send me a message. You can also buy great Easter crafts from “Baker Ross” on line to help children to reflect on the stories.
Palm Sunday 10am we will be worshipping together as usual. This will be a slightly more “all age” feel to the worship. All being well, you may be able to also follow this on YouTube and join in with the songs – if not, then feel free to sing in your own homes! You might like to bring in a branch from the garden for this service or make a Palm cross for it to be blessed during the service.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday you will receive a reading and prayer for the day.
Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane – John will provide some vigil material for you to use at home in the evening.
Good Friday I will be directing you to listen to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Good Friday address and sending you a link to some music to help you reflect.
Easter Sunday We will join together in worship at 10am as is becoming usual. You will receive an order of service and reflection, and hopefully a link to our YouTube video from home. Normally this service would, of course, be a communion service. This is something we are all missing, and we look forwards to the day when we can share the bread and wine together again. Although in theory I could consecrate bread and wine and share it with my family, I want to let you know that, like many Priests and Bishops (including Bishop Nick), we will be keeping a “eucharistic fast” with you until we can all join together again. Our Easter service will be instead what is called a “spiritual communion” where we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and remember that we are one with all those other members of Christ’s body – those who celebrate now in either their own homes or in Churches around the world, and those Christian Saints who have worshipped down the ages. We look forwards to the time when we can share in the holy meal together again, but in the meantime we rejoice that we are in communion with God and with one another right now by his Spirit.
I will be in touch about Palm Sunday tomorrow – in the meantime, please do send me your prayer requests.
Rev Alison, from Kirby Hill has kindly recorded Compline from the porch of the Church and has made this available to us all. Compline is a quiet, contemplative service of night prayer, to be said just before going to bed and is often used particularly in lent. I do commend it to you – you can find it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVuQjCTH23M&feature=youtu.be . Please do keep in your prayers Alison and the people of Kirby Hill Churches.
Dear St Raphael members,
Good afternoon! I hope you have had a good weekend and are keeping well.
Today I am sending you a link to a worship page to give you ideas for worshipping outside – either in your garden or on your daily walk, for those of you who are able to do that. The “Wild Worship Field Guide” is designed to help us appreciate the beauty of creation – it can be used alone, or in family groups. Those of you who are looking for activities to entertain children may also find it useful! Here is the link:
With love and prayers,
Those of you with primary school children (or grandchildren you would like to pass this on to) may like to join in with Sunday School, put together by a friend of mine from college.
There is no rule against grown ups doing some gluing and sticking too, if they so wish!
In these days where our homes have become our world, our Gospel reading takes us back to a home we know well – the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. We know them well because their little household pops up in the gospels again and again. We know that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet whilst Martha fretted about the housework. We know that Mary poured perfume on Jesus’ feet to worship him and mourn him in the days before his death. And we know the story that we have just heard too – the miraculous raising of the brother of Mary and Martha, who has, up until this point, been a bit on the side-lines of this family’s story.
As three adult siblings living together, they are an unusual group. Lazarus, we might have already guessed, has never been too well – otherwise why would he still be living with his sisters and be unmarried? And here we meet the three of them, together with Jesus, at their most vulnerable and broken. Their brother has finally lost his life, Jesus weeps at Lazarus’s tomb, Mary admonishes Jesus, saying, “He wouldn’t have died if you were here!”, and Martha, clinging to one last hope (one ridiculous hope, onlookers must have felt) insists that she believes that even now, Jesus can do anything. We read about Jesus calling Lazarus out of the tomb, like a precursor to his own resurrection, and we imagine the joy and disbelief that must have followed; the celebration – the awe – the wonder about what this could possibly mean. We imagine the effect on Lazarus, to be given a second chance at life. How do you think it would have changed him? We imagine the sisters too – how would this miracle have changed their lives? How would it have shifted their priorities? They say that a near-death experience changes forever our perceptions of what’s important. We refocus. We’re more aware of beauty, of love, of our responsibilities. We live every day as if it counts.
And this, of course, is where we are – it is where the whole world is. We are Mary, lost in grief. We are Martha, clinging to hope. We are Lazarus, waiting to be redeemed. We are Jesus – grieving and yet called to bring light, hope and life into the world.
And we are more than all of these, because unlike Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus himself, we live in the knowledge and light of Christ’s own resurrection, and so we hold with confidence the truth in the most difficult times, that death is not the end and that love will always triumph in this world and the next.
So now, at this time of change and limitations, there are, strangely, new opportunities. As we refocus on what is important, we can learn from these changes rather than fighting them or resenting them, asking God to support and help us by his spirit, and choosing to pour our energies into loving our neighbours and our world. In the tending of a garden, or the painting of our house, or the knitting of another scarf, let us beautify the world, and celebrate what we have. In our reading and in our watching habits, let us focus and spend time on what is life giving and joy giving. For those of us who are able to leave our houses, let us do our shopping and our exercising and our giving with gratitude and generous hearts. In our prayers, let us not forget one another, but hold up to God the suffering of the world for his redemption.
This time will pass, just as Lazarus’ time in the tomb passed, and he was brought once more into the light. We will look back, and recognise God was with us all along. We will find surprising glimmers of his glory in the most unexpected places and situations. Christ is the pattern for our lives. We will, just as Jesus did, grieve. And we will, just like Jesus did, overcome.
May God bless you and keep you safe, comforted and blessed this Passiontide.
Dear St Raphael’s folk,
In our services, we normally mention by name people who have asked for our prayers – and it would be good to be able to continue to do this.
If you would like prayer for yourself, then please e-mail both Karen and me – that would seem the easiest. You don’t have to go into detail, but it does help to know a little about why you would like prayer at this time. If you would like prayer for someone else, then before you e-mail please ensure the person involved has given their permission. At times, it is also difficult to discern when we should stop mentioning someone by name in our prayers – so please do say as and when the need changes. Feel free to e-mail at any time, although the intention is to finalise and circulate any orders of service to the St Raphael’s congregation at least a day in advance.
Please note that this arrangement is for prayers which would normally be spoken aloud as part of our Sunday worship. Both Karen and I are both contactable for a confidential chat if required – and as both involve prayer it is important to distinguish between the two arrangements.
Click the link to view or download
Here is a prayer which we use at the end of weekday Morning Prayer:
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.