Dear Friends,

How are you doing?

We are almost three weeks into the lockdown and I wonder if, like many, you are beginning to lose track of the days.

I read somewhere that rather than there being days of the week to take us through to the weekend, there is now only ‘Thisday’, ‘Thatday’, ‘Theotherday’ or ‘Thenextday’.

I hope that you are keeping safe and well and managing to find a rhythm that helps to distinguish one day from another, or at least, set aside the weekends.

Last Saturday evening our household had a trip to the theatre. We got dressed up for the occasion and Lizzie and Sam enjoyed a romantic, candle lit supper for two, after which, they joined Oscar and I for a pre-theatre drink. We then made our way to our seats, the lights went down and the play began – ‘One man, two Guvnors’ from the National Theatre. During the interval we had refreshments and we even shushed Sam as he noisily unwrapped his chocolate during the performance!

It was a great evening that broke the monotony of the week. It felt good to do something out of the ordinary and the play was brilliant; it took us all to another place for a short while.

Do you have similar stories of how you and your family are creating special moments at this time? Perhaps you’re sharing time with loved ones on Zoom or FaceTime in a way that brings you together and enables you to step out of the lockdown, even if only in a virtual sense, for a little while.

Of course, our reality hadn’t changed at all, but it was good to enter a different world for a while.

We are now making our journey through Holy Week, and, as we do, we remember the events of the last week of Jesus’ life. We recall his last meal with his closest friends, the time he spent in desperate prayer in Gethsemane, his betrayal at the hand of Judas and his arrest. On Friday we will spend time at the foot of the cross.

Ordinarily, we would share that journey in our church buildings, but this year is so different, and we will be reflecting on the events of Holy Week in our homes, maybe alone. Perhaps our present circumstances will make our experience of this week all the more profound as we look toward Easter Day against a backdrop of uncertainty and isolation.

I encourage you to make use of the resources that are on our benefice website. Along with the meditations that have taken us through this week, you will find prayers and reflections for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. I found the Stations of the Cross, from Bishop Bev – the Bishop of Warrington – very moving.

I found myself pondering on that trip to the theatre as I considered my feelings as we approach Easter Day. That may sound odd but bear with me. You see, Saturday night was an exercise in escapism, and it worked. The following morning, we all commented on how much better we felt for stepping away from the reality, even if only for one evening, and we plan to do it again, with a different activity. Nothing in our circumstances had changed though. We are still in lockdown.

But, and here’s the thing, with Easter Day comes a complete shift in our reality. We are Easter People and that makes the world of difference to us in every way. It changes the way we remember our past – we are loved and forgiven – so that we don’t have to carry guilt and regret. That is liberating news! It changes the way we engage with our present – we are not left to face the trials of this time alone – we can know the presence of God with us and, through prayer, know his presence with our loved ones, whatever their circumstances. We can play our part in bringing the light of Christ to our community at this time of uncertainty, by being a good neighbour through phone calls and supporting local charities such as the Foodbank. We can also give our support on a national and international level, through prayer for our nation and the world.

The event we remember at Easter – the resurrection – changes everything as we look to the future, because we have a sure and certain hope in Christ, who is alive and, by his Spirit, is active in the world around us.

As Easter People we know that we are loved by the creator, redeemer and sustainer of the world and we are called by him to play our part in bringing about his justice and peace in the world around us. This fact does not mean we live in a bubble protecting us from the harsh realities of life – that is not what the gospel is about – but rather it connects us all the more with the One who lived a life that was totally grounded in the physical stuff of life; connecting with the lives of the ordinary, complex and wonderful people who he brought in to being. The incarnation demonstrated God’s love for and deep connection with the world he created. The cross demonstrated the lengths his love would go to. The resurrection demonstrates the fact that nothing, not even death, can separate us from his love.

My prayer for us all this Easter is that, as we wake to the reality of Easter Day, we will remember that we are Easter People, people of light and hope, and that we will carry that true reality with us always.

If you wish to join others for worship on Easter Morning why not connect with a service at Southwell Minster? The services for the day are:

  • 5.30am Christ is Risen! Proclaiming Easter, live from Vicars’ Court at Southwell Minster
  • 8.00 Holy Communion (Book of Common Prayer) (The Dean)
  • 9.30am Start the Day with Bishop Paul and Sarah Williams
  • 10.30am Eucharist for Easter Day President and Preacher: The Rt Revd Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham • 3.30pm Evensong The BBC recording of Evensong for Easter Day from Southwell Minster 2019

Just go to https://southwell.anglican.org/

With my love and prayer,

Revd Louise