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News from the Vicarage - March 2016

Dear Friends,

Holy Week. 'Passiontide' is the name we give to the solemn week from Palm Sunday to Easter.

That name was helpful in the days when people learnt their bible in Latin, and even in the early days of the Reformation, for everybody knew that 'passion' comes from the Latin word for 'suffer'. Nowadays it means a strong feeling of lust; or occasionally for music or some other hobby. Once again, we must ration ourselves in the use of unexplained ancient language - and the doctrine of the atonement is a minefield of unexploded theological terms.

Palm Sunday is easier - especially if you can get hold of a donkey to take part in our procession - for everyone knows that traditional king would have ridden a warhorse, and Jesus was breaking the mould. Even those who have never seen a live palm tree can picture the children waving the palm branches and shouting 'Hosanna', which means 'save us now'. On Maundy Thursday we remember the Last Supper, a Passover meal which Jesus celebrated in the Upper Room with his disciples: the name comes from the 'new com-mand-ment' which Jesus gave us, to love one another as he has loved us - not many people know that! The Eucharist on this day at 7.30pm includes the foot washing and stripping of the altars, reminding us how Jesus was stripped of his clothes by the mocking soldiers and the procession to S. Anne's chapel with the reserved sacrament for Good Friday and the watch as in the Garden of Gethsemane. I wonder how many people who go shopping on Good Friday, in places where it is not a public holiday, ever think of Jesus dying on the cross that day. If so we must seize the opportunity to explain what was good about that, and Peter Abelard's emphasis on the cross as a demonstration of the love of God is the easiest of the many doctrines of the atonement to explain in modern terms. Our Good Friday Liturgy at 2pm follows on from our Lent Lunch. While many people to not think about life after death our minds may be charged by some bad news about our health and the hope of life after death or heaven becomes a reality.

The story of Easter of how Jesus died and come alive again can bring faith and hope. We replace the purple of Lent to the red of passiontide to the white or gold of Easter. We sing 'hallelujahs' with the return of the 'Gloria in excelsis', together with the lighting of the Easter/Pascal Candle at the most moving Easter Liturgy on Easter Eve at 8pm.

My prayers and best wishes,

 

Fr. Philip Edge - Vicar