No easy crown to make.
Did they wear gloves?
Did their hands bleed,
Mingling with your blood?
No easy crown to wear,
To hold in place
While acting out their game,
Excited by your blood.
By your response . . .
As you do.
Sheila Billingsley sent us these three poems very recently; they arrived on Easter Eve, Holy Saturday. Though the first two shorter poems are about the events of Thursday night and Friday they are infused with Easter, so here they are, as close to Easter as we could get them; the others follow tomorrow and the next day. A shame to put them by until next year.
Bin liners are a constant plastic we use in our everyday lives, however if we all transitioned to plastic-free or compostable ones we would greatly reduce its impact on nature.
Number 40! Changing your dietary lifestyle can make a huge impact on how much plastic you use. Nut milks mostly come in recyclable cartons and you can purchase your beans and nuts loose from places like unboxed!
It’s that in-between day. The day when fresh linen is spread over the stripped altar, when church dusting is done, the floor and brass polished, the flowers gathered in and arranged. Christina Rossetti invites us to Consider the lilies of the field; her message, one we have been reminded of more than once this week, is HOPE. Jesus found Mary in the garden, after all. Consider that one small seed that was laid in the garden tomb.
CONSIDER THE LILIES OF THE FIELD.
Flowers preach to us if we will hear:– The rose saith in the dewy morn, I am most fair; Yet all my loveliness is born Upon a thorn. The poppy saith amid the corn: Let but my scarlet head appear And I am held in scorn; Yet juice of subtle virtue lies Within my cup of curious dyes. The lilies say: Behold how we Preach without words of purity. The violets whisper from the shade Which their own leaves have made: Men scent our fragrance on the air, Yet take no heed Of humble lessons we would read.
But not alone the fairest flowers: The merest grass Along the roadside where we pass, Lichen and moss and sturdy weed, Tell of His love who sends the dew, The rain and sunshine too, To nourish one small seed.”
Here is Christina Rossetti’s meditation on Good Friday. The reference to a stone and a rock being struck goes back to Exodus 17; see below.
Am I a stone, and not a sheep, That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross, To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee; Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly; Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon Which hid their faces in a starless sky, A horror of great darkness at broad noon – I, only I.
Yet give not o’er, But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; Greater than Moses, turn and look once more And smite a rock.
So the people were thirsty there for want of water, and murmured against Moses, saying: Why didst thou make us go forth out of Egypt, to kill us and our children, and our beasts with thirst? And Moses cried to the Lord, saying: What shall I do to this people? Yet a little more and they will stone me.
And the Lord said to Moses: Go before the people, and take with thee of the ancients of Israel: and take in thy hand the rod wherewith thou didst strike the river, and go. Behold I will stand there before thee, upon the rock Horeb: and thou shalt strike the rock, and water shall come out of it that the people may drink.
Moses did so before the ancients of Israel: And he called the name of that place Temptation, because the chiding of the children of Israel, and for that they tempted the Lord, saying: Is the Lord amongst us or not?
From Revd, Jo Richards, of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury. Many Congratulations to John Morrison: Maundy Money
On the Thursday of Holy Week, known as Maundy Thursday, it is traditional for the reigning monarch to distribute money to deserving pensioners in a cathedral somewhere in the United Kingdom. This year, the chosen cathedral is, once again, Canterbury Cathedral, now that the Queen has distributed the Maundy coins all around the country in every cathedral. She commanded that the ceremony should take place in London only once in every ten years.
The word ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin for ‘command’, mandatum. The Thursday before Easter Day has been a traditional observation from early Christian days in celebration of Jesus Christ’s command to “love one another” demonstrated by his washing of the disciples feet. The day marks the end of Lent, an old English word for ‘lengthen’ as the daylight increases, a period of forgiveness, prayer, reflection and study.
To qualify to receive Maundy money from Her Majesty the Queen, a recipient must be 70 years old or more, recommended by their Bishop and have made a significant contribution to life in their local community. Since 1957, a recipient may only receive Maundy money once in a lifetime.
The Queen honours the number of ladies and gentlemen for each year of her age. In 2021 this is 95, a total of 190 recipients.
Each recipient is given two purses, white and red. In the red one is a set amount of current coinage amounting to £5.50, historically representing alms, made up of £3 for clothing, £1.50 in lieu of provisions and £1 which represents a piece of the Sovereign’s gown which, before Tudor times, used to be divided between the recipients.
The white purse contains specially minted sterling silver coins in one penny, two pence, three pence and four pence denominations related to the age of the monarch. In 2021, a total of 38 coins. The style of the coins is largely unchanged since 1670 when Charles II added a year date to the coin distribution he started in 1662. The picture of the Queen on these coins is her 1953 Coronation year portrait designed by Mary Gillick. The coins were only ever debased from sterling silver by Henry VIII from 1544 to 1551. The design for the reverse of the Maundy money is a crowned numeral in a wreath of oak leaves. This has been the same design since Charles II.
British monarchs have been known to observe the distribution of alms and/or washing of feet since at least 600AD
As Her Majesty is unable to distribute the Maundy money in person in 2021, for the second year running, because of the coronavirus pandemic, each set will be sent from Buckingham Palace, having been blessed in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, with a personal letter from the Queen.
In our Benefice, one of our Readers, John Morrison, has been informed by the Lord High Almoner that he has been selected to receive the honour of this year’s Royal Maundy during Holy Week. John is active in the Church of England as a national Peer Reviewer and is on the Provincial Clergy Discipline Panel. In the Diocese he is an Archdeaconry of Canterbury lay representative on the Archbishop’s Council, a member of the Diocesan Synod, the Canterbury Deanery Treasurer and is an active licensed lay minister (Reader) in this Benefice. He is also a Chaplain in the Sea Cadet Corps. John, this is a wonderful achievement, and congratulations from us all for this well-deserved honour, and for your ministry amongst us.
Well, what was Judas thinking when he went to the authorities for his pieces of silver? He will not have told himself that betraying Jesus was the worst thing he could do, so that’s just what he would do; no, he must have convinced himself that it was the best possible course of action in the circumstances.
Was he trying to force his Master’s hand, engineering a scene such as had happened in Nazareth at the start of his ministry, when Jesus passed through the crowd that was trying to stone him? (Luke 4:16-30) That seems unlikely as Luke says he was looking for a time when the crowd was not present in order to hand Jesus over. (22.6) Was he hoping that Jesus would then and there abandon his peaceful mission, instead establishing the Kingdom of Israel in a brilliant coup d’etat? Or did he see himself as clear-sighted, holding out no hope for Project Jesus, so he would cut his losses and take the money and run.
His suicide suggests that he was not that clear-sighted and cynical. I do not think he expected events to work out as they did; his self image may have been of a Mr Fix-it, forcing change on Jesus. Perhaps he expected the 11 and other disciples to rally round, overpowering or recruiting the posse sent to arrest Jesus and rampaging triumphant into the city. If he thought Jesus would enter into his Kingdom by military or mob force he was profoundly mistaken about him; but so were the other disciples, every one in their own way. But they clung together and did not hang themselves.
And then what? Clearly Jesus meant more to him than the money, the blood money that could not go into the treasury. (Matthew 27:3-8) His suicide speaks of hope abandoned – as we read yesterday, those who have something to hope for survive. Judas surely felt unable to return to the community of the disciples after what he’d done. Peter wept bitterly, but still stuck around. The reality of his prophetic words – you have the message of eternal life – did not sink in until Sunday morning. Too late to save Judas.
But never too late for his Lord and Friend to save Judas. That’s clearly what the artist of Strasbourg Cathedral felt, when he carved the Lamb of God rescuing Judas from his noose at the very gate of Hell.
We turn again to Eddie Gilmore of the Irish Chaplaincy. We are at the end of Lent, and hopefully – say it again, hope-fully – we are nearing the end of a much longer period of penitential living, as the vaccines begin to push the covid virus into the margins.
“Hope is an essential part of being human.”
So said Bishop Richard Harries in a recent ‘Thought for the Day’ and he cited an example of Allied prisoners in the second world war. Those who had something to look forward to, he explained, perhaps a wife and children to eventually return home to, were more likely to survive long years in captivity than those who didn’t.
Many of us will be looking forward to a variety of things, and it can be a way of getting through a challenging current reality. We might be looking forward to being able to meet up with friends and family again, to sharing physical touch, to singing in choirs, to attending live events. Many parents will, I’m sure, have been looking forward to the schools reopening! All of my children are dreaming of going travelling, and I must say that I’m quite keen to jump on a train or plane again too! After the long cold winter we might be looking forward to the coming of warmer weather, and perhaps even fantasising about lying on a tropical beach somewhere! Any beach would do me at the moment, tropical or not. In the Church’s year we may put up with a little self-imposed hardship during Lent, in the knowledge that the great feast of Easter will follow, and we’ll be able to stuff ourselves with chocolate again! The bible is filled with references to hope, often expressed in times of adversity, such as in Isaiah 40: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles, they run and do not grow weary.” In Jeremiah 29 we hear of God promising those exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon, “a future full of hope.” And we are assured in Psalm 9 that, “The hope of the poor is never brought to nothing.”
We need to be careful that in our looking forward we do forget to receive whatever is given in the present moment. I’m sure I’m not alone in spending much of my waking time alternately dwelling on the past or either worrying about or anticipating the future, and missing therefore what’s right in front of my nose. When the Indian Jesuit Anthony de Mello was asked if he believed in life after death he replied, “I believe in life before death.”
During my interview for the Chaplaincy at the end of 2016, I ended my presentation to the panel with the words: ‘Irish Chaplaincy…Looking Ahead with Hope’. I’m not quite sure where those words came from but they seemed to strike a chord and they duly appeared in bold letters on the homepage of our new website. In looking for a name for our upcoming fundraising walks in April we decided on the name ‘Walk with Hope.’
Bishop Harries quotes a line by the poet R.S. Thomas, having noted that much of his poetry could be quite bleak. Thomas apparently wandered into a Welsh village one day and was suddenly filled with an overwhelming sense that, “There is everything to look forward to”.
Harries concludes with a suggestion of how we are to live in the day ahead, the hour ahead: “In the present, but with hope.”