Jesus sits alone. In isolation. Above Jesus' head are small panels; each one showing a disciple, joining Jesus by Zoom
Of course, I don't wish to make light of the Last Supper but this picture reminds me that God is with us in our isolation. Jesus experienced isolation too - not at the Last Supper but in the Garden afterwards, when the disciples slept while he prayed, and in the events that followed, when they all ran away and left him. God knows what isolation and loneliness are like and laments with us as we experience them.
We are doing what we can to stay connected; I know that Zoom has very quickly become a significant part of many of our lives. As we look towards the next week and a bit, with the Church Wardens, the clergy team have been reflecting on how we can be as connected as possible through Holy Week.
On Tuesday, you might have seen the 'palm cross'; it'd be great if you could come to this Sunday's (Palm Sunday) Zoom service with one. Of course, we also have the 'make your own palm tree' challenge; I look forward to seeing them all!
As we prepare for Holy Week, you might also like to look at April's Column Inches. In it, Georgie maps out our journey through the week together.
In the days and weeks that lie ahead, we will all undertake our own journeys individually and collectively. Some will be challenging; perhaps there will be a journey into a world of technology that we didn't even know existed; we might take journeys into finding a new hobby, skill, or even TV or film series (you'll find Oisin describing his journey to becoming a Star Wars fan in Column Inches); on our journeys we may discover things about ourselves too.
Sometimes on our journeys, we might feel isolated and lonely. Remember, though, that we are in this together. Join us on Zoom for prayer, coffee and Sunday services - all of the links can be accessed from our website. Or get in touch with me or Giles. Our contact details are here. You might also like to look at some online resources - at times like this, it is even more important that we look after our mental health.
We must remember that God is with us in all of this too. Today, I met (virtually of course) with the other curates in my year group, and we were reflecting on Psalm 23. My favourite setting of this psalm (by Howard Goodall) will probably upset any music aficionados - it is the one that was used as the theme tune for the Vicar of Dibley! - but I love the musical change that happens (at 1:12 of this recording) for verse 4 of the psalm:
Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for you are with me
and you comfort me.
In both the psalm itself and in the composition of the music, there is this reminder that, in the things we fear most, in our loneliness and isolation, in our darkest moments (in some translations, 'the valley of the shadow of death' is translated as 'the darkest valley'), God is there with us - and God transcends isolation and social distancing.
None of us will sit alone, in isolation, when we celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday. We will see each others' faces in panels on our screens and Christ will sit at every table, in front of every book case and wall, next to every chair and stool, and will enter every heart.
Finally, this is part of a hymn I sang in primary school, based on the prayer often called 'St Patrick's Breastplate', and it seems particularly poignant at this time.
Christ be beside me, Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me, King of my heart.
Christ be within me, Christ be below me,
Christ be below me, never to part.
Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand,
Christ all around me, shield in the strife.
Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting,
Christ in my rising, light of my heart.
As we sometimes say at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer:
The Lord is here!
His Spirit is with us.
Remember that we are here too. Keep in touch.
With love and prayers,
Thursday 2nd April 2020