Dear One and All,

Gerard Hughes ,SJ, wrote a wonderful book entitled God of Surprises, if you get a chance buy a copy it's worth the read. My experience of God is that God is full of surprises and as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ I should be prepared to be surprised constantly. The trouble is and it's my issue and not anyone else's or God's; it is that I am not a great lover of surprises. And yet I am willing to admit to being  wonderfully surprised by the present situation we find ourselves in. How so?

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Alleluia! Christ is Risen.
Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Reading: Mt. 28:1-10.

Dear One and all,

Normally my Easter Sunday morning starts with a gathering of folk on Jennicliffe for Holy Communion at about 0700. This year however, we are thrown back on ourselves and no gatherings are permitted. We are in a sense shut-up, imprisoned, in our homes and our freedoms curtailed. We cannot celebrate Holy Communion together as we normally do. We cannot be the body of Christ as we would normally be. And yet!

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'How frail a man is, how few his days, how full of trouble...if a man dies shall he live again? This thought gives me hope, so that in all my anguish I eagerly await sweet death'. (Job 14:1&14)

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" Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, 'Jesus of Nazareth King of the jews'. Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Then the Chief Priest of the Jews said to Pilate " Do not write 'King of the Jews' but 'this man said I am the king of the Jews'. Pilate answered "What I have written I have written" (Jn. 19: 19-22)

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Gethsemane means 'the garden of oil' and is found on the slopes of the Mount of Olives to the East of Jerusalem. For us it is often associated with a 'garden of tears' and it is a place where Jesus knows what it is to be betrayed and deserted by those closest to him. I want to reflect on just a few words he utters shortly before he is handed over to the authorities.

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I usually concentrate on Palm Sunday this morning but today I am going to look at the Institution of the Lord's Supper ( Mt 26:26-30) It is situated at the heart of the Passion narrative. Judas has arranged to betray Christ and Jesus tells of Peter's betrayal of Christ through his denials. The story gathers pace as Jesus is arrested and then begins the long ordeal of trials and beatings, betrayals and humiliations. This Jesus endures.

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Psalm 103: 8-14.

I am going to be looking at verses 8 to14 in particular this morning. As I do so the themes Dr Dawes identified as having an overarching presence in the Old Testament, steadfast love and mercy, righteousness and justice spring to mind.

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During this time of unprecedented seclusion I would like to offer you this liturgy as a framework for your devotions. Starting on Wednesday the 1st April I shall offer a reading and reflection. There will be another offering on each Sunday and every day during Holy Week, available here. Many thanks as always,

Aye,

Simon

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