My dear brothers and sisters,

 

It is extraordinarily sad that amongst everything else the doors of our Churches and Churches all over the Country have had to be closed. This has happened because the government has told us that this is the safest thing to do at this moment. Our Churches have always been places to go for reflection, comfort and prayer for a thousand years. What we now have to do as a community is to recreate spaces for reflection, care and prayer outside of our physical buildings. The Fifth Sunday of Lent has traditionally been known as Passion Sunday because it was the custom to read the whole account from one of the four Gospels of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. It marks the beginning of a more intense period in our journey through the lead up to Easter and Easter itself. In more modern times the Gospel reading set for this Sunday has been the story of Jesus friend Lazarus who died and after a few days Jesus raised from the dead. It is perhaps useful for us this year more than any other year to think about the message that the story gives to us. Above all else it is a message first of desperate sadness. The shortest verse in the whole Bible describes Jesus human reaction to the loss. We are simply told that “Jesus wept.”  But the story does not end with the tears of Jesus and Lazarus’s family.

Jesus then does something extraordinary, that which has been closed, like the doors of our Churches Jesus opens in the face of fear uncertainty and death itself. The scene is transformed Lazarus comes out thought the door of the Tomb confused, shaken but living.

In all the uncertainty and fear that surrounds us there are things we need to do. Firstly talk to each other, Jesus himself expressed his grief. Secondly have hope and in hope, care for each other and love each other. Thirdly in faith and hope and love we look forward to a time when the doors of our Churches will be reopened. When that happens we will find that a great deal has been changed and more than that renewed. Let us look forward through the Easter story to that great day. We will have found a new way of living together as a community and as a Church.

God Bless you,

 

Ashley with my clergy colleagues.