Rector’s Letter from April 2019 Magazine

Dear friends,

It was Holy Week and Easter 1986 that first drew me away from my Methodist roots. I had stayed on in Cambridge for the holiday and went to all the services with a Catholic friend. For me it was a life-changing week, culminating in a gloriously joyful Easter Vigil at Westminster Cathedral. I have travelled that journey from Palm Sunday to Easter Day every year since then and each time I feel that I’m drawn a little deeper into the mystery of our faith. I look forward this year to accompanying you on this journey. I hope that it will be a blessing to us all.

We will start on April 14th by gathering together in the hall for our Palm Sunday procession which will be led by younger members of the congregation. In the church we will listen and reflect on Luke’s account of the Passion, the events of Christ’s last days presented as a dramatized reading. You are welcome to drop in to church to pray any time from the Monday to the Wednesday. There will be materials to guide you or you can just to sit and pray in the tranquillity of the building.

On Maundy Thursday we will commemorate the Last Supper with a simple, traditional Eucharist in the morning and a more informal service in the evening involving a meal in the hall and leading to communion and a vigil in the church. During the meal we will listen to readings which tell the story of the people of God and how the Feast of the Passover came to be. Then we will remember together that night over two thousand years ago when Jesus met with his followers for the last time and, just as he taught us, we will wash and dry each other’s hands or feet. After receiving communion, we will strip the sanctuary of all its decorations and then we will watch and pray as we remember the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Bishop Bruce Cameron and his wife, Elaine, will lead us in our Good Friday reflections this year. They have chosen to focus on ‘People around the Cross’, presenting the responses of familiar and unfamiliar figures, using a mixture of imaginative monologues, conversations and poems, intertwined with hymns, readings and periods of silence. You are welcome to drop in for part of the service or to stay for the three hours between noon and 3pm. In the morning, children of all ages are welcome to the Easter Garden Service in the church at 10am.

On Saturday night we come together again just before nightfall to start our Easter celebrations. From earliest times Christians have gathered through the night of Easter to recall the story of God’s saving work, from creation through to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The modern service, drawing on ancient texts, is designed to be a real experience of new life for the worshipper, a passing from darkness to light which offers hope to all. We light our Easter candle in a new fire and bring the light of Christ into the darkened church, sharing it among us as we listen to the Exultet, the ancient hymn of triumph and rejoicing. Then we renew the promises made at our baptism and hear the Easter Gospel proclaimed before sharing in the Eucharist.
Easter Morning will be a lively celebration for the whole congregation together followed by an Easter egg hunt for the children. This year our celebrating continues on the following Sunday when Bishop Ian joins us for a service of commissioning of lay ministries followed by a shared congregational lunch.

I hope that there is something to appeal to everyone amidst the services planned this year. I would urge you, however, not to skip from Palm Sunday to Easter Day but to take the journey one day at a time just as Jesus did. Ruth Burgess’ poem below was written as a prayer before going to church on Maundy Thursday, but the blessing it speaks of applies to the whole of Holy Week and Easter:

I will walk in the wind to meet you Jesus
to let you wash my feet.
I don’t want to.
I would rather stay here in the warm,
away from your towels and water
and offers of forgiveness,
for I know what you mean, what you ask, what you give.

But I will come, for I cannot stay here alone,
and I cannot run elsewhere,
for I know that you are waiting, welcoming.
And I know that only you can heal me and hold me.

So I will come with empty hands to your supper,
empty hands and dirty feet.
I will come as your guest
and with water, bread and wine
you will make me whole
and set me free to serve you.

Happy Easter when it comes!