Thoughts from The Vicarage 15

Good morning Friends,

I trust this finds you well and in good spirits. I begin today with these words … a mandate on Maundy Thursday

‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you’. John 13.34

A reflection for Maundy Thursday …Christine writes

John 13.1 – 17
The last time that I was washed all over by another person was a long time ago, in hospital after I had just given birth to my first son. I was lying on one of those high hospital beds, feeling exhilarated but very tired and a woman came in to wash me. I was, literally, in her hands, in a position of dependence and helplessness. She washed me with such gentleness and care and respect that, to me, her actions had a Christ-like quality about them. Yet I realised that she would be one of the most poorly paid members of staff.

Washing Feet

Washing Feet

On Maundy Thursday the church remembers how Jesus took the role of a servant and washed his disciples’ feet. They found it difficult to accept, but Jesus told them that they should be people who washed the feet of others – in other words to be servants, but first they had to accept being washed. Like them we can normally find it difficult to show our vulnerability, to accept that Jesus sees us as we are – even the dirty bits, and invites us to be washed clean, totally accepted, completely loved. Yet in these extraordinary times we are all realising our vulnerability and our dependence on others.

And we are seeing who is important in our society. Some of them are those with professional expertise like our doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Others are those who undertake poorly paid but vital tasks in our community. We are learning to call them “key workers”. Today we give thanks for them. They are of all faiths and none. Yet as a Christian, I see in them the same acts of service that Jesus showed his disciples when he washed their feet.

And a Poem from Christine …

Only Human
by Ann Lewin

‘You must be perfect,’ awoke
Echoes from somewhere –
‘Be a good girl or else….’
And once again I thought
‘I’ll never manage it.’

But does perfection come
Through striving to attain
Imposed, impossible standards,
Hard-edged flawlessness?

Deep down I feel
The opposite is true:
Perfection comes
Through gentleness,
Loving hurts to wholeness,
Growing to be at ease
With self and God.

Maundy Thursday services

There are two streamed services today. Both will be found here
https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19/livestream/

  • At 8.15 pm there will be a Maundy Thursday Eucharist with Bishop Colin presiding.
  • 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.

As I mentioned yesterday if you prefer to contemplate quietly at home please do use the order of service attached with this letter. It is the one I sent previously.

For many of us, praying in this way from home will still feel strange. We are not used to being invited to a Spiritual Communion with the God who ever comes to meet us where we are (instead of receiving communion through physical bread and wine). But the Church has always taught that what is necessary for communion is true desire, lively faith and genuine love, and these are things we can all embody as we come to God and meet with him face to face in worship.

Why are our churches closed? The Archbishop replies …

Our churches are for everyone – for being welcoming in any way we can. The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks of 5 reasons our churches are closed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY44A6FlhkI

A Taste of Fine Art …

Hot off my email is attached an opportunity for you to create your own pencil study of God and Adams Hands. It has been sent to me and released copy right free from Sue, a correspondent in Royal Wootton Bassett. She developed an art class over the Easter Week and has now kindly shared it with us, here in the valley. Sue writes, ‘God is reaching out to Adam. How we all need God reaching out to us at this difficult time. People could try printing the skeleton line drawing and shading it’. Thank you Sue for thinking of us and as you keep us in your prayers please be assured you will be in ours.

And finally …

Through the Maundy service this evening we travel with Jesus as his disciples. We will hear that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then called them to do the same for others. We will hear Jesus offering himself in bread and wine, the feast of the Church at which all are welcome. Then we will go with Jesus to an abandoned garden. We will hear him ask his disciples to stay awake with him while he prays. We too are invited to keep watch with him into the dark hours of the night.

Passion

Passion

Stay awake with me and watch

We are all invited to obey Jesus’ instruction to keep watch with him in the Garden of Gethemane. Sit quietly and pray for the needs of the world.

Read a favourite book about Holy Week. Read through John 13.16- 17.26, which both offer a fabulous insight into what Jesus came to do and how he equipped and inspired his disciples at the end. Knit, read, colour, write, look at this maybe
https://thevcs.org/index.php/holy-week-2020

But watch for as long or for a short of time as you wish.

Psalm 22 (NRSV translation)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people. All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Julie