How lovely to share Sunday worship with so many of you in these strange times. It was very heartwarming to see the congregation in Gallery View on Zoom - to be able to see you all singing along to Euchar playing the piano in Walthamstow, and respond to Paul saying the Eucharistic Prayer in Stamford Street, and Lisa in Windmill House. The sense of connection was for me very real and I hope that was the case for you as well.
We have put the service on line. It is on our Virtual Worship page, and I have put the times of some of the key moments in the service in case you don't want to watch the whole thing.
Yesterday was Passion Sunday, when we move more deeply into Lent and towards Holy Week. The readings, from Ezekiel and from John's Gospel, were extraordinarily appropriate. I preached about the famously shortest verse in the Bible - 'Jesus began to weep.' I wanted to acknowledge the deep pain and loss and grief which many of us are experiencing, as well as the anger at this terrible situation. That loss and pain are expressed both in Ezekiel's image of the dry bones in the valley (mortal, can these bones live?) and in the story of the Lazarus's death.
But I also preached about hope: for the Ezekiel vision ends with the coming back to life of the dry bones - 'I will put a new spirit within you, and you shall be my people,' - and the Lazarus story ends with the raising of Lazarus. 'Unbind him, and let him go.' There is new light even in the darkness. The lights of our communities are shining brightly. There is such a thing as society, and we are seeing it at work.
So I want to thank you all for all that you are doing for one another and in the love of God. Keep it up, even when things feel dark or exhausting. But if you are exhausted or sad, tell someone. Tell me. Tell a member of your family. Tell a friend. It's very important to share these feelings so that they don't overwhelm you.
Our new weekly routine continues this week. Tomorrow I will be leading the Lent Group at 7pm. I will focus on "Praying for the World." The first four Lent sessions have been about our own prayer and contemplation, and now, rightly and appropriately, we will be thinking about intercessory prayer, such as these from yesterday's worship. If you would like to join us, the Zoom link is on the website. Coffee morning and the Pub continue as usual.
We have begun to think about Holy Week services for next week. They will all happen on line, and we will follow our usual format. More on this to follow during the week - but, in the meantime, if you would like to play a part in the Passion Gospel (when we re-read the whole account of Holy Week in Mark's Gospel) for Palm Sunday, do please email me. It will be interesting to do it via Zoom.
Here is a poem by an Irish teacher called Kitty O'Meara which has gone global, so you may have seen it already. Thank you, Andy for sending it to me.
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
With many prayers for you all