Holy Week and Easter have always been deeply significant for me and a very rich time of prayer and worship. Through Holy week we have generally gathered together – not always in large numbers except for Good Friday – but those gatherings have been both significant and intimate affairs where we have followed Jesus’ way to the cross and shared in rituals involving washing, lighting candles, sharing in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, reflecting in silence and singing the great hymns that carry our faith. I have missed these physical gatherings more than anything. There is something important about being together physically that on-line or virtual services cannot communicate. The same can be said for the importance of touch. We are physical beings, and we actually need touch, need connection, need communion to be wholly human.

However, in this strange time of physical isolation due to the Corona Virus we also have a responsibility to ‘fast’ from our physical gatherings, and rely on the on-line services that our team has managed to put together.

I want to record my thanks to our Team who worked so hard during Holy Week to produce the Tenebrae, Good Friday and Easter Services.

They have done a fantastic job and I have heard from so many people who have appreciated this! Most of us find change difficult, especially when we are not the ones bringing in the change and have to respond to what others have decided. In the pandemic we have had to respond to a very big and invasive NO!

 No, you may not get together with your friends.
 No, you may not go to your traditional office or place of work.
 No, you may not travel.
 No, you may not carry on as usual in your daily life.

But sometimes saying ‘No’ can actually also be a ‘Yes’ – yes to boundaries, to solitude and rest! I have seen how creative people have been in keeping in touch with friends and family on Skype or Zoom, or the old fashioned Telephone! And I want to thank our Elders and Pastoral Carers for their efforts in keeping in touch with people. People are reaching out to each other more, all because we have received a big fat NO!

This Sunday we hear about Thomas – the doubter – who with the other disciples experienced the NO of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, but then were caught off guard by the surprising and mysterious YES of the resurrection, something they could never have foreseen. That YES changed their lives completely, for they knew that Jesus was with them now even closer than before, and he would never leave them again – ever!