A Reflection for Easter.
Like the explosion of the colour of spring blossom what burst out of the tomb that first Easter morning was life. Until then the story had been about death. Suddenly all of that was turned on its head. And life, glorious life, is exactly what Jesus had always promised. Not “religion”, not “churchiness”. Certainly not “holier than thou-ness”. But life. Life in all its fulness. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. And then he proved it by bursting from the tomb.
And life for the whole world. For everyone. John V Taylor, a former Bishop of Winchester, once wrote: “It has long been my conviction that God is not hugely concerned as to whether we are religious or not. What matters to God, and matters supremely, is whether we are alive or not”. Another Bishop, John Pritchard, said, “We have to look at our faith and very honestly decide whether it’s bringing us more fully to life or whether, in subtle ways, it’s actually diminishing us. If it’s the latter, we can be sure the God will not be in it. Nor will Jesus”.
Trying to diminish God, keep the lid on him – perhaps much more the style of the church in days gone by when going to church was “the expected and proper thing to do”, especially if you belonged to a certain class of society – was never the way to experience the “life in all its fulness” which Jesus’ resurrection brings.
Neither, though, can the way so many people in the modern world convince themselves that more money, greater status, bigger cars, more expensive face-lifts is “life in all its fulness” be anything of the sort. The life, the true life which Jesus has won for us, cost him everything – the darkest darkness of death on a cross: human life, human death, in all its stark, agonising reality.
It’s when we are prepared to come alive to the vast embracing love of God as well as to the glory, complexity and tragedy of the world and allow the potential of resurrection life of Christ within us that everything is transformed…….Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!
We are continuing to have a short form of worship, prayer and bible reading each Monday and Tuesday at 9.15 am in the form of Anglican Morning Prayer on 'Zoom". This is open to everyone. All you need is access to the internet and a form of screen - computer, tablet or even a smartphone. This is one more way that we can maintain fellowship in prayer as well as conversation for a few minutes afterwards. Please let me know if you would like to join this.
Please see our Services page for more information on forthcoming Services and by checking our Facebook pages for updates. (St. Andrew's Church, Roker, Sunderland and Parish of Monkwearmouth: St Andrew's, St Peter's & All Saints)
With every blessing.
The Church of England has issued clear and particular guidelines for churches aimed at reducing the risk to virus transmission to an absolute minimum. These include the cleaning and sanitising of church buildings after use (or not using the buildings again for at least 72 hours), the requirement of all congregation members to sanitise their hands when they come in and when they leave and for social distancing to be observed at all times except at the moment Holy Communion (bread only for the moment) is received. There are particularly stringent guidelines for the clergy person leading the service in terms of sanitisation of hands and the covering of the bread whilst the Eucharistic prayer is said. The pews are already taped off in such as way as to distance worshippers by at least two metres unless they are members of the same household. Currently no singing is permitted, although there will be recorded sung hymns to listen to. Names and addresses of congregation members will need to be recorded and kept for 21 days from the date of each service to assist with “track and trace” if this is necessary. Service books are used once only by one person and then are put away untouched for at least 72 hours. Use of hand sanitiser is required by everyone and is used several times over by the priest whilst preparing the communion wafers. It does sound quite complex but I’m sure all will be well and we’ll be able to worship God without any distraction once we are used to the “new normal” (to coin the most popular phrase just now!). The majority of people attending our services have been wearing face masks which the Church of England has recommended.
Please use a face mask - unless you are exempt. With the other measures we have in place this will help us to continue to minimise the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.
The Church of England has prayer resources you might find helpful to use at home during this time of lock-down. These can be found on www.churchofengland.org under 'Coronavirus (Covid-19) liturgy and prayer resources'.
If you are familiar with "Zoom" (a video conferencing facility) and would like to join us for parish morning prayer at 9.15 am on Mondays and Wednesdays you would be very welcome. Please phone Dick on 07753116621 if you would like to and/or need help in getting set up.
The experience of Lockdown written down...?
We will all have experienced this time of lockdown in a different way. Perhaps it has been very tough. Perhaps we have found new opportunities or even worked on a new skill. Maybe we have been profoundly moved and amazed at the kindness of others. Although we cannot, at the moment, produce a Parish Magazine it would be wonderful if as many people as possible wrote something down to describe what this experience has been like. Perhaps in the form of a poem or a descriptive paragraph or a prayer. We could then include these in the pages of the Magazine when we are able to print it again.
If you are not already giving by standing order there is still no straightforward way we can collect weekly plate offerings. Please can I encourage you to continue putting your normal weekly offering to one side? It is really appreciated and needed. With any luck in the coming weeks there will be a way it can be collected in. Perhaps now is the time to consider setting up a standing order. Or you could write a cheque each month to St. Peter's, All Saints' or St. Andrew's indicating that it is your weekly gift offering and send it to the Parish of Monkwearmouth, Parish Office, St. Andrew's Church,Talbot Road, Roker, Sunderland, SR6 9PT.
We hope this information is helpful and useful at this difficult time.
Please see the page below for a further update.
Keep well and stay safe.
God bless you all.
Revd. Dick Bradshaw
A simple order of service can be found by clicking on the button below. Please try to use this as near to 10am as possible so that we can all be worshiping together despite being in our own homes.
The Celebrate Service is held on the first Sunday of each month, in the Priestman Hall of St. Andrew's Church. We meet informally in 'cafe style' relaxed atmosphere with tables and chairs so people can chat and get to know one another. There is no Holy Communion at this service. We sing modern worship songs using backing tracks and use the overhead projector for visuals, film clips and words for the songs. The services are put together by teams of people from the worship group at St Andrew's (everyone is welcome to join). Refreshments are served from 9.30 am and the service starts at 10 am and lasts approximately 45 minutes with more refreshments available after the service. A warm welcome awaits you if you'd like to join us!
Gather2Gether is different kind of meeting which is held on the 2nd Sunday of every month at 6.30 pm at All Saints' Church, Fulwell, Sunderland, SR6 0DG. We explore our faith, ministry, healing, read the Bible, pray, encourage each other, watch short film clips and much more! A warm welcome awaits you so please come and join us!