Thoughts from The Vicarage 14

Good afternoon Friends on this Wednesday of Holy Week,

I trust this finds you well and in good spirits. I begin today with …

A Poem a day for Holy Week …

This is The Time To Be Slow by John O’Donohue

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

You can hear Fergal Keane read this poem. This link will take you through to the audio file in a few seconds. Click on the following link:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/entertainment-arts-52091958/radio-4-today-bbc-s-fergal-keane-with-the-verse-that-helped-sustain-him-through-ptsd

A reflection for Wednesday of Holy Week …

The Gospel for today is John 13:21-32. We hear of a betrayal met with grace and forgiveness. We read of the disciples’ reaction. That ‘they looked at one another uncertain of whom Jesus was speaking’.

As we come to Wednesday of Holy week we may want to try a powerful form of prayer in Ignatian spirituality. It is to place yourself in a setting, to imagine interacting with those in the narrative, to watch the characters and then reflect upon your own reactions. Re-read the passage, relax and try it.

How did Jesus look when he gave the bread to Judas, how did Jesus, fully human yet fully divine feel as he gazed at Judas as he passed him the bread? And what about Judas? What was the look in his eyes as the profundity of his action hits him?

And what about yourself as you look on amidst the complexity of emotions?

Jesus expressing the gifts of grace and forgiveness as he was betrayed. He offers those very same gifts to each one of us.

No matter my belief, my gender, my innermost thoughts. No matter what we’ve done, our betrayals, our past mistakes, our guilt or shame you are the beloved of Jesus. The belovedness of Jesus for humanity has no boundaries. His gift of grace and forgiveness is for all.

Whatever the hurt we’ve incurred on others, our own shortcomings, our very hurt toward Jesus himself – know that Jesus understands our humanity, all our shortcomings and all our betrayals. Feel the wonder, the mystery, the incredible joy of knowing that you are a beloved one of Jesus.

Recall the times when you have felt at peace because He has touched you with a healing word, a look in His eye, a soothing of your inner being and give thanks. Amen.

Continuing my reflection … with Julian of Norwich

Please find attached today a reading from Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, she writes;

For though the dear humanity of Christ could suffer only once, his goodness would always make him willing to do so – every day if need be. If you were to say that for love of me he would make a new heaven and a new earth, this would be a comparatively simple matter; something he could do every day if he wanted, with no great effort. But for love of me to be willing to die times without number – beyond human capacity to compute – is, to my mind, the greatest gesture our Lord God could make to the human soul. This is his meaning: ‘How could I not, out of love for you, do all I can for you? This would not be difficult, since for love of you I am ready to die often, regardless of the suffering.’

These words remind us of our calling to follow Christ as his disciples to grow in compassion, contemplation and in courage as we journey through these exceptional and precarious times.

A reminder … tomorrow’s Maundy Thursday services

  • There are two streamed services tomorrow. Both will be found here https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19/livestream/
    Firstly at 11 am The service is one of renewal of vows for parish and for ordained ministry. Traditionally, it is held within a Diocesan Cathedral, Christchurch in our case, and is the occasion on which Holy Oils are blessed and distributed. With the situation this will not be possible. As your priests Christine and I have been asked to retain last year’s oils for use. Here are mine in my prayer corner.
  • Secondly at 8.15pm there will be a Maundy Thursday Eucharist with Bishop Colin presiding.

If you’d prefer, do remember that you have the Holy Week booklet that I sent our yesterday to use alongside the spiritual communion sheet. If for any reason you don’t have it please just telephone or email.

My prayer is that however you worship and reflect on Maundy Thursday, it will nurture and sustain you as we journey towards Easter.

Zooming Morning Prayer and Compline …

The offices of Morning prayer and Compline continue. It’s been wonderful being able to pray together, to share the readings of the day and simply to smile at each other and see friends. This evening’s Compline service invite is on my email. Please don’t hesitate if you need IT support or would like guidance on the techie bit.

And finally … for today

Please keep being kind to yourself- if you want to change the plan during the day and save weeding the garden for another day then please do that. It’s fine to change the plan, it’s fine to be flexible, it’s fine to see how you feel, it’s fine to be flat and sad for a time.

We have never been asked to do anything like this before and it’s not a surprise if it takes us a while to adjust, or if we never quite adjust. If you are in need, have a query, or are feeling a bit worried please just ring either myself or Christine.

To coin a phrase, ‘it is what it is’. If it’s important it will get done. If it’s not important then it might not get done. But then, by definition, it’s not that important… What is important is that …

We are in Holy Week, about to enter the Triduum – the Three Holy Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Day. Please keep on keeping on praying. Many people are suffering. The world is united in an unprecedented way.

May God richly bless you and yours – and others through you. As I pray for you, please pray for one another.

Julie