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St John the Baptist Parish Church

Vicar's column

Holy Week is upon us and we walk the way of the cross, the Via Dolorosa, like never before. Normally, this week is one of great drama in the life of the Church, beginning with Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, then events such as the anointing at Bethany, leading into the Last Supper, with Jesus enacting the Greatest Commandment as he washes the disciples feet, before being unscrupulously handed over to the authorities. Good Friday is a succession of trials and anguish. Jesus is alone, so alone, having been abandoned by his inner circle. He experienced isolation during his passion, including the worst isolation of all, alienation from God his Father. Then, “It is finished”. Holy Saturday is a tomb day. All is still and silent. Death’s icy fingers have taken hold. Despair sets in as time is frozen. But that is not the end of the story. Dawn breaks the following day to the appearance of angels bearing incredible news. Then Jesus himself is encountered, in bodily form. Resurrection. Life out of death. There is hope. There is a new chapter to unfold. 

God has not abandoned us, although it may feel that way. We are stuck in the tomb, waiting for Easter Sunday. It will come a little later for us this year. In the tomb, we are confronted with our very selves; the selves we have been diverted from while we filled our lives with frenetic displacement activities. Now we are confined, constrained. Now we fall silent in the face of tragedy. We weep. We mourn. We agonise. We wait for this time of great suffering to pass. In the tomb we cry out to the Divine. As the spring flowers emerge, they herald signs of growth, amidst our struggles, in spite of our wounds. 

Holy Saturday

At dusk
His lifeless body
taken tenderly
wrapped
in a clean shroud
placed
in a tomb newly
hewn from the rock
sealed
with a stone.

The women
assume their vigil
sitting mute
opposite the sepulchre
wide eyed but vacant
dreaming
of an alternative ending
yearning
for the One they love
laid out cold.

The warmth of their hearts
cannot stir him now.
This is the end of the road
Nowhere to go from here.

Revd Dr Lisa Cornwell

 

St John the Baptist Parish Church Vicar's page

Message from our Archbishops

Being a part of the Church of England is going to look very different in the days ahead. Our life is going to be less characterised by attendance at church on Sunday, and more characterised by the prayer and service we offer each day. We may not be able to pray with people in the ways that we are used to, but we can certainly pray for people. And we can certainly offer practical care and support. Please do carry on supporting the local foodbank and buy extra provisions for it. Ensure the night shelters wherever possible are kept open. There are many very encouraging schemes happening right across our country in communities to focus on caring for the most vulnerable, so do continue to play your part in those. Then by our service, and by our love, Jesus Christ will be made known, and the hope of the gospel – a hope that will counter fear and isolation - will spread across our land.
 
We have called, along with our fellow church leaders, for a day of prayer and action this coming Sunday - Mothering Sunday (22nd March). Mothering Sunday has always been both a day of celebration for many and a sensitive and emotional day for some. Wherever you are this Sunday please do join in this day of prayer and action and remember especially those who are sick or anxious, and all involved in our Health Service. As one action, we are calling on everyone to place a lighted candle in their window at 7.00 p.m. as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished.
 
This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves? We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.
 
Please, therefore, join us in this great challenge; and pray for our Government and nation, for each other, and especially for those who work in our health and emergency services.
 
With every blessing,
 
           +Justin Cantuar     +Sentamu Eboracensis