REFLECTIONS and UPDATES on Corona virus

Effective 17th March 2020 all Church services are suspended.

Celebrating Palm Sunday tomorrow

John 12(NIV)

13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Tomorrow we come together to celebrate Palm Sunday.

Although we are a community at home, we need to celebrate and shout our ‘Hosanna’s’ together.

Whilst many of us have previous years’ palm crosses lying around the house, why don’t we make our own today, that we can wave tomorrow. It’s an easy thing to do.

All you need is some string/wool/a rubber band and any of the following;

  • 2 sticks
  • 2 knitting needles
  • a couple of wooden spoons
  • got a couple of cocktail sticks?
  • 2 pencils
  • etc etc

Now let’s get inventive and maybe post our efforts to share in our fellowship together

For the craftminded, you might like to paint a cross or prepare a stain-glass one  on see through paper like Harry’s. How are your bread making skills? Well the sky’s the limit as they say. 

The point is that we take something that we have around us (as did the crowd on the entry into Jerusalem) and make something of it to celebrate our Lord’s arrival in Jerusalem, singing our Hosannas as he comes.

Let us remember this occasion as the time when we were all apart but came together, offering what we had in celebration of Palm Sunday.  You can hold your crosses when you watch Nick’s service tomorrow (it should be posted by midday, technology allowing) and then maybe you can post an image of your cross in the comments section under the service.

Lynda Evans

                                                            

 

Saturday 4th April - A Letter from the Rector - Holy Week.

HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS

Hi Pilgrims

During the last few weeks many of us have had to learn a lot about electronic communication in a very short space of time. We are all at different levels of understanding and skill about what is possible on our computers and mobile phones. I think most would agree that currently electronic means of communication are a blessing that helps us keep in touch with each other.

Electronic communication can be used to further God’s Kingdom and spread information about God as we share local and diocesan church services and spiritual reflections electronically. So let’s use our electronics in the service of the Lord to help deepen our relationship with Him and each other!

Now Lent can be a sombre and reflective time since not everything in life is happy and jolly. Our lives are smeared with tragedies that we sometimes despair of making any sense of. Lent and Holy Week is a special time when we are encouraged face those difficult times we experience and to see where God is in it all.

So during Holy Week we shall be posting on line meditations on The Stations of the Cross, sometimes known as The Way of the Cross or the Way of Sorrows. There will be two illustrated reflections each day, starting on Palm Sunday with a final one on Easter Day.

The Stations of the Cross refers to a series of images which relate to the route Jesus walked through Jerusalem to the site of his crucifixion. Each image depicts something particular that happened along the way and helps us to focus on the enormous significance of what God did for us through Jesus.

These Stations have become a very popular Lent devotion for many Christian churches throughout the world such as within the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic and other churches.

Spend time pondering each image and reflection and try to see how any sadness in your life is mirrored and borne by God Himself in the person of Jesus – make the story your own story. This is especially since if you were the only person in the world then Christ would have suffered and died just for you.

Whatever pains and griefs we have endured in this life it helps us to know that Jesus has been there first and knows exactly what it is like.

The Stations of the Cross reveal that God doesn’t just sit in the sky being remote from our hardships. He came right down into the middle of us and took ALL of the punishments that we deserve.

Looking at the pictures and pondering the accompanying reflections brings us face to face with the awesome and loving person God really is.

Many thanks to Kimonie, Lynda, Beth and Olwen who have worked together to prepare the reflections for us all.

The reflections will be available on our Facebook page, Newport Pagnell Parish, and on our website www.npparish.org.uk.

If you do not use the internet but would like paper copies, let the parish office know and we will arrange paper copies to be delivered.

Don’t forget we also have a WhatsApp group so if you have a mobile phone and want to join the group, just text Moira on 07968585364.

Nick Evans – Rector of Newport Pagnell

Wednesday 1st April - Reflection from Mervyn Evans

The Shortest Sermon.

 


It was about twenty ago, in my airline days, that I found myself on layover in Seville. The day was open, and Seville Cathedral was close by the hotel, so a visit seemed in order.

The cathedral, built in the early sixteenth century is the largest cathedral in the world and the interior is elaborately decorated. My visit coincided with a Mass and so I took a seat and watched. There was all the ceremony and ritual you might imagine, processions, incense and ritual and, of course, it was all in Spanish. As the service progressed the priest gave a sermon, I had no idea what was being said until the very end when the Priest raised his arms in the air and said in a loud voice:

 

“Libre, Libre, Libre.”

 

Free, Free, Free. And that was enough. Over the intervening years I have sat through hundreds of sermons most of which have long since passed from memory. But those three words, Libre, Libre, Libre, have stayed with me. That word, Free, encapsulates so much of good news of the Gospel. Through Christ, we have been set free from the burden of sin. Free to become the person God intends us to be. Free to live and love and serve. Free in the knowledge that life, that precious gift of God, transcends death and that we are his people now and for all eternity.

 

if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

 

Free, Free, Free! Living in this period of uncertainty, confined to our homes, we long for a return to normality, for the freedom to carry on with our normal lives. Even so, as a parish we are already discovering new ways of being community, new ways of being the church. New ways of exploring what it means to be “free indeed”. The freedom Christ brings is not constrained by walls or frailty, it is a freedom of will and spirit, a freedom to follow where He leads, a freedom to serve. A freedom that also brings responsibilities.

 

Freely you have received; freely give. (Matt. 10:8)

 

And we give what we can. A kind word, a helping hand, a compassionate heart. Because that is what Christ wants for us, that is the people we are called to be.

 

 

A PRAYER OF ST AUGUSTINE

Lord, you are the light of the minds who know you.

The life of the souls who love you,

And the strength of the souls who serve you.

 

Help us to know you, that we may truly love you.

So to love you, that we may fully serve You.

 

Whose service is perfect freedom.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

And a well-known hymn:

https://youtu.be/9-QcrKkXpcg

Sunday Eucharist (29/3/20)

 

 

Saturday 28th March - Reflection

Out of the depths – a reflection on Psalm 130 from Karen Goff, a Licensed Lay Minister to the parish.

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy. (Psalm 130:1-2)

 

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,

more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130:5-6)

 

These words from Psalm 130, the Psalm set for Sunday’s principal service, could not be more appropriate in today’s current crisis. The Psalm opens with a desperate cry for help. The Psalmist feels separated from God and longs for God to listen to him and help him. There is a feeling of helplessness and the cry knows that God is the only hope.

 

Pictures of lorries carrying so many bodies to crematoriums in Italy shown on the news in the last few days and the daily news of increasing deaths across the world make us feel powerless, desperate and helpless.

 

Crying from the depths can feel like your insides are turning outward and your entire being groans audibly for the Lord to show help in your distress. Instead of remaining in despair the psalmist looks upward.

Psalm 130 is a Psalm of Ascent; one ascending from the depths of despair to a joyful confidence in the God of the gospel. The Psalms of Ascent were likely sung by pilgrims journeying up to worship in Jerusalem at annual festivals. As God’s people traversed the dirt roads and winding paths to the city, these psalms would fill their lips and act as prayers to tune their hearts for hope-filled worship.

The last four verses of this psalm mention hoping or waiting six times and I have a deep sense that this is what we are doing.

Waiting for the death rate to fall or a vaccine be found. And while we wait there has been such an outpouring of love and community whether it’s those working on the front line, local businesses delivering food or meals, local Covid-19 Response groups or the emotional clapping across the United Kingdom on Thursday evening.

We wait and hope for the Lord and hope in His Word because His Word confirms His character to us. The promises of His Word reveal that we can (and must!) hope in Him. This hope will start to dawn for us as a watchman awaits the sunrise, seeing a glimmer of light at the break of dawn and increasing more and more each moment he waits.

And so we begin Passiontide and Sunday’s gospel echoes the psalmist’s message. We experience the agony and helplessness of Mary and Martha on the death of their brother Lazarus but also the hope Jesus gives by raising Lazarus to life. Both events bringing to mind what Jesus is to face as we journey towards Easter.

This prayer was sent by email to Mothers Union members this week.

Prayer for a Pandemic

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home, remember those who have no work.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close, remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market, remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.

 

This song ‘Praise you in this storm’ by Casting Crowns says it all

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoqbKyeKOBI

Thursday 26th March - Reflection

A reflection on one of today’s lectionary readings, Hebrews 10:19-25.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25, NIVUK)

I am guessing that for most of us, one part of our daily routine that has not changed is the drawing back of the curtains each morning, the curtains drawn yesterday evening to block out a particularly cold night. Now have you ever thought about the significance of curtains in the Bible.

When Christ took his last breath on the cross a curtain was torn in two. From that moment humanity could see through the curtain. God was no longer hidden; he had revealed himself to us through His Son. In the passage from Hebrews 10, the writer refers to Christ’s body as a curtain that is drawn back, torn, to give us the opportunity to get to know God better, to draw closer to him. As we read further, we are encouraged to hold on to our faith, to support one another, and not to stop meeting together – a message as important today, as ever.

So, let us continue to encourage and support one another during these difficult times and to meet by ‘other means’, until that day when we will once again join to worship and praise God our Heavenly Father. Until then, remember that God keeps his promises and so whenever you draw back your curtains and look out at the street or garden, call out to Him in prayer, ‘Abba, Father…. ‘

Kimonie

Tuesday 24th March - Reflection

In just a week life (as we know it) has changed beyond recognition - but is that a bad thing? In recent days we have seen less of that endless rain and plenty of spring sunshine, along with the emerging signs of new life in our gardens.  It reminded me of Eleanor Porter’s character Pollyanna and her ‘Glad Game’; a game she was taught by her father to  find something to be glad about and grateful for in every situation, no matter how bleak it may have been. As we look around today, we may think that there is nothing to be glad about, but how that is not the case. We have a heavenly Father who loves us and cares for us. In the words of the twenty-third psalm, probably one of the best known, we are reminded that no matter what life hurls at us, our Lord will lead us through these uncertain times. So in the coming days, when we are social-distancing and self-isolating, look around you, think about how you’re making the most of this different way of life and, above all, think of something for which you can thank the Lord. ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul’ (Ps 23:1-2)

Kimonie

Mothering Sunday Eucharist service

March 21st - 

Fellow pilgrims

Clergy have been encouraged to offer Communion on behalf of the parish on Sundays even though at the present time public gatherings for worship have been suspended. One of the team will assist me with this offering. 

This will be recorded and put on the website and Facebook, hopefully by lunchtime tomorrow. 

For your reflection the Mothering Sunday readings are:

Exodus 2 vv 1-10

2 Corinthians 1 vv 3-7

John 19 vv 25-27

I shall miss you all being there!

The Bishop of Oxford and the Archbishop of Canterbury will be live streaming a service tomorrow morning so check your social media applications for this.

Nick

Today, March 20th, the church remembers Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne. A short account of his life can be found on YouTube.

 https://youtu.be/obqEJ3ixBTw

Almighty God, who called Cuthbert from following the flock to be a shepherd of your people: Mercifully grant that, as he sought in dangerous and remote places those who had erred and strayed from your ways, so we may seek the indifferent and the lost, and lead them back to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

19th March Reflection here