More than just words, more than just walls
In the opening pages of our student diary we find our school’s Statement of Purpose: St Paul’s School develops resilient, global citizens who are innovative thinkers with a heart for servant leadership.
Over recent times this statement has been referred to as our students have shifted to learning online and other remote platforms. Students appear to have accepted the challenge well, demonstrating their resilience and a willingness to embrace change within the current environment. I am gladdened also by the innovative ways I have heard students, parents and staff overcome some of the challenges associated with all the recent need for change.
Obviously, there will be ongoing change and challenges, but I am sure the way forward will see our students, staff and families continue to demonstrate St Paul’s Statement of Purpose in more than just words.
As a follower of Anglican traditions, it feels somewhat surreal to me as we move towards Passion/Palm Sunday, there will be no collective worship in churches with the traditional reading of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and waving of palms and blessing of the palm crosses. This will not be followed by the Holy Week rhythm of services Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the vigil in the garden of Gethsemane and then the lighting of the new fire at dawn on Easter Day with the cries of; “Christ is Risen; Halleluiah!” And the response; “He is risen indeed; Halleluiah!”
But the Church of God is more than what occurs within the walls of our worship buildings. Just as learning is continuing through our schools in new ways, so too our churches are exploring new ways to connect the people of God as we can engage with our ministry and mission in the world, proclaiming the resurrection and sharing the message of hope in the Gospel.
From the earliest of days of the Church, the Apostles and disciples had to work through challenges and changes sharing the message that Christ had risen, a new day had dawned and hope for the world could be found in the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The message Easter proclaims is still the same although the delivery may have changed.
This Easter why not go online and find a church that is sharing that message of love and hope through streaming services. For those who regularly attend Church, see it as an opportunity to be together with your brothers and sisters in Christ at this most important time of year.
For those who may not regularly attend Church perhaps this is an opportunity to reconnect and engage in some fellowship without having to walk through the physical doors of a church.
Whatever you choose to do this Easter in these unusual circumstances, may you find blessings to share and hope to strengthen you. May the peace of God enfold you, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit fill you and the love of Christ be known to you.
A reading for Palm/Passion Sunday:
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
(Mark 11:1-9 NRSV)
O Lord, you are our God and we are your people.
Make your presence known among us.
You are the Shepherd and you are our Shepherd.
We shall not want or be afraid.
Nothing can separate us from your unfailing love,
not sickness or fear or worry for tomorrow,
not darkness or even death.
You are our Light and our guide in the midst of trouble.
We shall not want or be afraid. Amen.
God of the present moment,
God who through Jesus we come to know you;
soothe the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
–Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book
Rev Mark Leam