Easter, and all around us now
The world awakes, the flowers bloom.
Here in the stillness of my room,
I think, Christ died and suffered pain
How can it be, we loved, we lost
Yet though he died, He lives again.
Now once again, at Easter time
As earth arises from its sleep,
Our hearts, our senses, soar on high
To worship Him, our promise keep
We love, we honour, we obey
Dear Lord, forgive mistakes we make,
At Easter, help us start afresh,
To do our best for Thy Dear Sake.
‘…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ’
1 Corinthians 12.25-27 (NIVUK)
As I write we are not quite at Easter, that great celebration day, being still in the season of Lent, and a few days to go to Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and Holy week. Yet this year, our journey has turned out to be very different from our usual one. We won’t be able to have our Tenebrae Service or the Good Friday Walk of Witness, or even our Easter Day celebration. At least not physically together.
We remain in Lent, and the lack of all we usually have and all we usually do feels like a real wilderness, something we are so unused to that we are unsure how to handle it. It’s almost like an imposed fast, unlike the forty days of willing fasting Jesus underwent in the wilderness. We may feel like we’re imprisoned, yet we are free within certain limits, unlike Jesus when He was arrested, led around in chains, tried, mocked and crucified. He did so willingly, yet it must have been a terrible time for Him, much worse than our own imposed limitations.
For our own situation, it is of course necessary in the current crisis. There are things we can do, like personal exercise outside once a day, as long as we don’t invite our friends! We can go with a family member or on our own for a walk – or run or cycle for those who are younger and fitter among us. And we can pray.
Although as a Church we have had to close even private prayer in Church on a Sunday for the time being, there are many ways we can worship at home. We are not closed off from worship, and God is with us wherever we are. We can pray and worship wherever we are. There are already opportunities to tune into online worship for those who have the facilities, and we are looking at some things to develop ourselves. For those of us without internet facilities, the Elders are working to make sure everyone has access to written material.
As the verses from 1 Corinthians at the top of this letter remind us, we are all part of the body of Christ, all part of one another. We suffer together and we can rejoice together. As such it is a good reminder that we can pray for one another and keep in touch on the phone. A few of us are also able to do practical things like shopping or posting letters, within that remit of staying safe and keeping social distance.*
As we remain in this wilderness, this time of fasting, we can still look forward to the promises of Easter. In the truth of the resurrection we can be sure of that new life we have entered as followers of Christ, as well as that promise of eternal life. The resurrection has made us all part of the body of the risen Christ, gives us that spiritual connection.
In the meantime, in our time of wilderness, the resurrection calls us to look forward. It gives us hope and trust in the one above all. And living in resurrection life has an impact of how we reach out during this time to those outside the Church. Most of us can’t do that physically: we need to stay safe.
Yet we can phone our neighbours and pray for them: for isolated older people, and even for isolated younger people, for families coping with helping their children with education online, families who are subject to domestic abuse, the self-employed struggling without pay and those on zero hr contracts who were already struggling. Have a think who your neighbours are and what needs they may have. Even if you don’t know them, you can still pray for the household.
As people of the resurrection, people of hope who can reach out to others, so we dare to say, even now:
Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
*PS if anyone does need practical help please contact myself or your Elder
LEEDS NORTH WEST FOOD BANK
Joan McShane continues to support the Food Bank during these difficult times. It is now almost impossible for us as individuals to support them with donations of food when journeys outside our
own doors are so limited. You may still be able to put a cheque in the post to support them when the need is greater than ever and Joan has supplied the details below:
“If anyone would like to donate money this would be really appreciated. If a cheque could be sent to our warehouse/office with a note asking it to be used for BUYING FOOD. Or send it to me I will
make sure it is used it is used for food which is running very low. PLEASE MARK THE DONATION “HEADINGLEY ST. COLUMBA URC”
Office & Warehouse LN &WFB 62A Burley Rd, Leeds LS3 1JX
Joan has also received a communication from Christian Aid who would normally be in the throes of making plans for their major fund-raising drive during Christian Aid Week in May. At the moment
it is difficult to see how such collections will continue this year but Joan will keep us informed of developments and how we can continue to support them when the need will be there but the support
difficult to organize.
While our own sophisticated Health Service struggles to cope, it is impossible to imagine how developing countries will begin to deal with an overwhelming epidemic and its aftermath.
Ian Henderson has already sent out a memo regarding continuing support for the charity work Elizabeth Lyle does in Ghana for the Jacob’s Well Charity, and for Vuli Mkandla’s church in
Zimbabwe. You have always been so generous during previous Lent Projects and we trust current problems will not make it impossible for you to be similarly generous this year. These are very small
charities and any help you can give will make a real difference.
Ian will be happy to process any donation made through the Church Accounts if you make a cheque
payable to the church, just let him know it is for the Lent Project.
Sandra Barry would like to express her sincere thanks to all who have donated to PAFRAS. We understand that Pafras will be assembling in St Aidans car park on Wednesday mornings to offer
support to those in need, but are not sure how long this can continue. Aleck has a contact number if you think you can offer help.
Please let me have anything you wish to include in the next newsletter by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
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 must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have 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 safe 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.
As fear grips our country
Let us choose love.
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. Amen
Circulated by Rev Tony Whatmough & Rev Angela Birkin
We have recently learnt that Rev Tony Whatmough, who was due to retire in April, will be continuing in post for the next few months to support the team at St Michael’s and St Chad’s.
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Mr John Wilkinson on 15th March. The family visited us regularly once a year when old friendships were renewed from the days of Cavendish Road. There will an appreciation of John’s life available soon
It is becoming harder to remember which day of the week it is and celebrations will come and go with little celebrating. The hours of planning by many couples for their weddings may end in a scramble for new dates, new babies will go uncuddled by grandparents and internet connections have come into their own. Birthdays for many will not be family events but we can still send Elissa Grant our very best wishes on Monday 27th April and Audrey Jones on Tuesday, 28th April. So . . .