I was struck when opening my Church Times on Friday by a headline referring to the ‘40 days and 40 nights’ of lockdown that we have so far experienced. These words make a link between Our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness and our present time of isolation. Both, in turn, echo a far older narrative, that of the forty years spent by the people of Israel in the wilderness between their deliverance from Egypt and their arrival in the Promised Land. Continue reading Wilderness Times
I’ve spent much of the last week on a course. Normally, I would have travelled down to Leicester and stayed in a hotel for this. Classroom sessions would have taken place in the St Michael’s Centre just across the way from Leicester Cathedral. The hotel bar might also have been a venue for some of the (very important) interactions in which one learns with and from one’s peers.
The story of ‘doubting Thomas’ is one that many of us probably imagine that we know well. St Thomas was the disciple who was slow to believe, the one who doubted the resurrection, the one who asked for proof.Continue reading Weekly Letter for Sunday 19th April
A very happy Easter to you all! I’m going to level with you; at the time of writing it is not Easter Sunday, but good Friday. Theologically, this makes perfect sense because Christ’s death and resurrection are part of the same whole – there is no death without the promise of resurrection and no resurrection without the pain and heartache of death. We Christians are the ‘Easter people’, the shape of our liturgy is such that every single week of the year we mark good Friday and Easter Sunday in some small way, it is part of the remembrance, or the un-forgetting, of who we really are.Continue reading Happy Easter!
This morning’s reading from the letter to the Philippians is easy to overlook. It has two powerful and dramatic gospel readings over-shadowing it, one shortly before, another very soon after. The story of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem comes first, and it is laden with irony since Jesus himself is the only one who has an inkling that the ultimate destination of this journey is a cross on Golgotha. We know, of course, which only makes it all the more poignant for us to witness the adoration of the crowds whose shouts of Hosanna will so quickly turn to taunts and murder.
Today marks the beginning of Passiontide, the final two weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. These are days in which we are reminded that the God we worship is intimately acquainted with bodily suffering and death. Our focus as Christians now turns decisively towards the cross – not an empty one, for now at least, but one on which we can still see Jesus, suffering and dying.
There have been many reactions this week to the suspension of public worship in the Church of England, and in our own church here in Lincoln. Some people have been angry. Others have tried to negotiate ways to continue gathering for public worship, looking for loopholes in the restrictions that the Government and the national church have imposed. Others have refused to believe that this is really happening.