Dear Church member
For many people this strange time feels a bit like a dream, in which daily life has taken a surreal turn. For others it's more like a nightmare. Some people are busier than usual, especially those working in essential services, those struggling with home schooling, and those trying to get to grips with new technology and other novel ways of working. Others have much more time on their hands. But many of us are in a uncomfortable state of waiting – for the present danger to pass and for life to return to normal. Waiting to wake up...
It is a bit like how it was for the first Christians who lived through the first ‘Holy Saturday’ – the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Following an increasingly popular public ministry that peaked with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the first Sunday of Holy Week, in the space of just a few days Jesus is betrayed, sentenced and executed. Shocking events unfold around them, and the frightened group of disciples retreat from everyday life, and spend Holy Saturday hiding away, confused and fearful. Waiting. But waiting for what?
It is a humbling time in which it is obvious that the situation – of huge political and even cosmic significance – is way beyond their control. But it is not beyond the control of God. When the time is right, God brings the waiting to an end and begins a new thing. With the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, a whole new creation is begun. And seven weeks later, with the outpouring of the life-giving Holy Spirit, the Church is born, and has been active ever since.
At this time we may not be able to meet together in person, but we are together in spirit. The use of God’s gift of technology enables us to stay in touch and even increase our reach. The present crisis gives us opportunities to serve our neighbours including through Harwell Helpers and the Chilton Mutual Aid Group, emails and phone calls. Even whilst waiting, we can be active in prayer and preparation. God who brings life out of death will act with his own timing. It is for us to be patiently dependant on God’s loving control, and to seek to discern the leading of his voice as we wait.
More on Holy Saturday here
Our online services continue with a reflective Good Friday service and an Easter Sunday Celebration. Both will be available on our website from 9am on the day. Previous services are also available.
The Diocese of Oxford is live streaming services over the next few days via http://oxford.anglican.org/livestream, including today, Maundy Thursday from 8.15pm, on Good Friday (a series of six short addresses from Bishop Steven with hymns and prayers), on Easter Eve for a Vigil at 8 pm, and on Easter Sunday at 10am.
In addition, Melanie and Sarah will be holding a live Zoom version of Pebbles Family Service at 10.30-11.10 on Sunday morning. If you'd like to join them for family friendly worship, chat and prayer, please contact Sarah Barrett for login details. It's not too late to take a look at our online Easter Trail! You can watch videos about the Easter story, sing a song and complete a craft or challenge each day. Please also see our CFW page for our weekly Fledgelings ‘See and Know’ singing time video and a short parent talk for encouragement. Also on the CFW page you can find a link to BeSpace who have created great prayer resources to do at home with your family including BeStill, BeCalm, BeClean!
A number of our home groups are keeping in touch with one another via Zoom, etc., but if anyone who is not part of a group would like at this time to be connected up with others somehow for fellowship and support, please contact me, Pam or Jean. Also, if you might like to take part in an online version of the Alpha Course, the Bible Course or similar, do let me know. It would be great to organise something after Easter.
Posters, crosses and gardens!
Finally, this evening there will be a poster that you can download, print out and display in your windows or on fences as an act of witness. You may also like to make your own posters and/or colour in one of the posters listed on the same page (linked here). Other ideas include displaying palm crosses if you have any, and making and displaying Easter gardens; it doesn’t have to be just children who make them! Do let me know if you are planning to do this (and where you live) and if there are a few, we will try to give publicity via the village Facebook pages to encourage people to look out for them.
This comes with warm Easter greetings.
Yours, in Christ,
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton