Many thanks to everyone who joined in on Sunday. And thank you for the feedback. I will try to discover what the crackling on the microphone was.
Please find attached a copy of the letter that I mentioned at the Mass on Sunday. It is from my bishop in England, Bp. Mark. Although it is written in the context of a Britain which is going through a much more severe lock-down than we are (and probably having an earlier spring by the sounds of it!), I think it is still relevant. More than this, I think it is uplifting and it really raised my spirits when I read it. It is very much an encouragement to find the good.
Looking ahead to this week, by the time you read this I will have gone away for a couple of days. Normally at some point in Lent I will take the inside of a week away as a mini-retreat to give myself time to think about the events around that first Easter. As this year I have just two full days I will particularly be working on the liturgies for the Triduum.
On Maundy Thursday we normally focus in on the washing of feet, and the idea of serving others being the bedrock of all Christian ministry. Obviously we can not do that if it is just me and Thumper! So instead I am trying to work out how I can celebrate a Mass that will help people meditate on the gift of the Eucharist. This Mass will be at the later time of 8pm; the idea is that it will be our ‘vigil’. We won’t be having a vigil on Easter Saturday night, so on Thursday I hope I can get people to take that evening as a launching pad for Good Friday, and indeed the whole Triduum.
On Good Friday we hope, in some way, to incorporate the idea of the Stations of the Cross into our 3pm service. Again, I hope that this will be a time when, in words and images, we can prayerfully see the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice.
Easter Sunday morning is relatively easy for me… I think! What I will try to do is have a joyous Mass when we will hear the news of the resurrection, see our new Easter Candle, and hopefully have some singing.
Just before writing this I was listening to a press conference by the government in Britain and all the reporters were asking what comes after the ‘lock-down’ and the current restrictions. The answer the government spokesperson repeatedly gave was that he doesn’t want the focus to go on that just yet as it might distract people from the task at hand of overcoming the virus by social distancing and a vigilant attention to cleanliness of the hands. Similarly for us as Christians, we are not yet at the end of Lent, we have yet to celebrate the Passion and death of Christ, but we do know what comes next in our liturgical cycle – the Resurrection of Christ! Yet as we approach this great time I am conscious that in our daily lives we are still stuck in our “Long Good Friday” – as Bp. Mark describes it – for some while yet. So as our faith in Easter helps us understand Lent, so in the same way our faith in the Kingdom must help us mould our understanding of our present – somewhat confusing – situation and enable us to look to the future with hope.
The rebuilding of our society after this pandemic will be an opportunity to build our world into a more compassionate society where we recognise that while the good and the great have their place, so too do all the other people whose efforts are so often overlooked.
While at a time of widespread illness we obviously think of our noble health workers, in this pandemic we have also become very aware of those who keep our supermarkets functioning, those who keep our water, electricity, internet and other vital services going, those who clean our buildings, and the myriad of other people who do jobs without which we would not be able to live the comfortable lives that we are blessed with. And that is before the others who telephone us when we are alone, who run errands for those who can’t leave their homes, and the legions of people who just show kindness in so many ways. These are equally indispensable and so need to be acknowledged and valued.
And an aspect of this strange time we are living through that interests me is how our ‘fallowing’ [as they are calling it in Britain], has given the environment a break from its usual onslaught of pollution from travel and heavy industry. So my hope is that because of our love for all people, not just those we see every day, then the rebuilding fo our world after the pandemic must be a rebuilding of a greener world.
I believe that a society that has a greater sense of interconnectedness, which values the part that all people play, which emphasises the importance of being a good neighbour, and shows love for God’s creation will, without doubt be a society that takes us one step closer to the Kingdom of God. And how do we gain the insights needed to guide our society towards the Kingdom? By the power of the Holy Spirit which was poured out on his Church at Pentecost, but that is a good few weeks away, and as the government spokesperson said, we don’t want to get distracted by that just yet!
My prayer is that by the end of this Easter season, that is, by Pentecost we will be together again, so that as an assembly standing side-by-side we will welcome the Holy Spirit anew in to our lives to enable us to build a better world.
I didn’t mean to do a mini-sermon! So I will conclude with the times for the services this week:
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You can join all these meetings fifteen minutes before the service starts. Do feel free to share the link below with others, but again for security reasons, we ask you not to post it on social media or where it can be seen by people generally on the web.
Don’t forget the ringing of the bells in Fernie and in Sparwood at 7pm this Wednesday. We ring them at that time as our way of recognising and thanking all those front line workers who are keeping our communities going at the moment. This is more than just our church, through the good offices of the Mayors of Fernie and Sparwood we hope it will be an event that the wider community also recognises and can share.
I do hope that you too can give a bit of time, and some focus to, the particular point we have got to in the liturgical year. It is worth being still for a short while and contemplating the whole pattern of this week: Christ giving us the Eucharist, then the giving of His life on the Cross, His time in the tomb and then His rising to new and everlasting life.
With a promise of prayers from our daily Mass for your wellbeing,
As we go to press I have just heard that the mother of Bp. Mark, my bishop in Britain, is very ill with coronavirus. So please can you say a prayer for Maura as well as all the others who are ill with this virus. Thanks, and I will pass on to Bp. Mark that we are praying for his mother.Message at the beginning of Holy WeekMessage at the beginning of Holy Week