Happy new month! Check out our April 1st tweet if you're on Twitter - @waterloofestiv or @stjohnswaterloo. Do comment or retweet.
On a more serious note, here are some verses from Psalm 55 which we read at morning prayer this morning:
My heart is disquieted within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and a horrible dread has overwhelmed me.
O for the wings of a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest...
During this Passiontide it is remarkable how resonant the psalms and readings are. As I watch the statistics increase, and as people close to us have the virus or know people who have, or know people who have died, and as I hear from those who are working on the front line or going back to work there having retired, it all feels very real. Yet there is a surrealism about sitting quietly in my home and looking at the sun on the churchyard. Darkness and light feel very close to one another at the moment, and the psalms and the story of Passiontide speak into this situation.
At the Lent Group last night we spoke of intercessory prayer - praying for the world. We spoke about such prayer as being a way of bringing Christ into the situation, knowing that Christ is interceding for us all the time. In so doing, we opened up the idea of the Universal Christ - an idea which feels very important at the moment, as we find ourselves sharing more deeply in one another's pains and joys. For Christ is here for everyone and in everyone - white, black, disabled, abled, straight queer, sick, well. The significance of the passion story, of the Christ event, is that it changes the whole world by expressing God's love for every corner of it, no matter how far or near.
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness will cover me and the light around me turn to night,'
Even darkness is no darkness with you; the night is as clear as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike. (Psalm 139)
There is nowhere where love's writ does not run. We see Christ in the connections we are all making and the care and generosity with which we are trying to live, and we see Christ in the heartbreak and sadness and challenges which some of us are facing, as families or individuals or communities.
So, to practicalities. Holy Week approaches, as Lisa reminded us yesterday. Thanks to those who have offered to take a part in the Passion Gospel. More offers please! We're currently working out how to do a virtual Palm Sunday procession. Watch this space...
Please do let me know if anyone you know needs any kind of help at all. Please add to your prayers: Ulrike who is not well. And Maria, Josephine, Alice and Deborah who are all working, or about to return to work in the health service. And all, especially families and people on their own, who are finding isolation difficult.
I was added to a poetry email chain this week and therefore received many wonderful things. Here is something I was sent, which I was glad to be reminded about. John Donne was a great poet and a great preacher, at St Paul's Cathedral, at the start of the seventeenth century.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
Nearly all the dark psalms end with an inburst of light - it's as if the psalmists couldn't keep quiet about hope. And so, Psalm 55 ends on a more hopeful note thus:
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you.
My prayers and love are with you, as ever,