I suspect that you will receive this magazine at some point during Holy Week, hopefully near the beginning! We will have had Palm Sunday… and we will be looking forward to the Easter revelation. Every year the whole of Holy Week is so emotional. Through our liturgy we experience the intimacy of Thursday night, loss and grief for Jesus and our own failings on Friday, dark emptiness and lack of direction on Saturday… but then we reach and revel in the complete joy of resurrection and new life on Sunday! It is a roller coaster of a week which I always look forward to and yet experience with a myriad of feelings.
And this year, to run alongside this holy time, we are conscious that the pandemic has reached its first anniversary – almost exactly. Last year on Mothering Sunday the churches were closed for the first time, and Holy Week was portrayed through video – all except for the very up-to-date whizz kids who knew about Zoom from previous lives!
This year has followed a parallel track and swirl of emotion as that of Holy Week. Many of us have experienced loss and grief, brief moments of connection, a living in the shadows and the darkness of uncertainty, of being unable to plan or be certain of any kind of direction. It has not been easy.
But to remember these things, and to hold them in the sacredness of this Holy Week is a healthy and life giving thing to do. Because our faith tells us that where there is Good Friday, there is Easter Day. Where there is suffering and pain, there is an opportunity for transformation and new life. And for why? Because Love is at the heart of everything that is. God is at the heart of everything that is. And God’s energy and Love transforms and makes anew.
We have hope in this pandemic in practical terms because of the vaccine and the falling numbers of infection. We have hope because slowly we can see life returning to some sort of normal. Our church will have opened on Palm Sunday. We will be able to meet again and see each other in person. And that is all good. But actually we have hope because God is Love. And we have experienced, I hope, Love anew in so many little but significant ways during these restrictions. I hope that we know that God has been faithful and has never left us. As we travel through this week and beyond I hope that we realise the centrality of Love. It is about God loving us so much that God wanted us to find him anew through his Son. And Jesus, in turn, loved us so much that he was prepared to die to show us what God’s love looked like. How can we be downhearted? How can we not hope?
I pray that many of you will come to church and experience as much of Holy Week as you can – and that you will bring with you all the baggage and emotion that this year has raised in all of us. Please look for the page in this magazine which tells you of the services. For those of you sheltering at home I hope you too will find ways to enter into this week, and remember you are a part of us as always. It is true that the more we immerse ourselves in Holy Week, the more we will rejoice on Easter Day. We are and will continue to be, resurrection people!
with love, Liz