The benefice pew sheet with details of online services and Bible readings for this week can be found on the Download tab of the website.
Below is Reverend Philip Payne’s thought for the week based on the Bible verse Ezekial 37:3 – ‘Can these bones live.’
From The Rectory – Can these bones live?
‘Can these bones live’, God asks. (Ez 37:3) Lent, our traditional period of abstinence and preparation, is drawing to a close. Intended to remind us of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, and prepare us for the events of Holy Week, Lent was once a communal experience. The sale of meat and luxuries banned, places of entertainment closed; a general air of austerity was imposed by the authorities. Today, in our busy 24/7 world, Lent is more challenging. Giving up a luxury is one thing; carving space to spend regular time with God is something else. Life is simply too full – until now. Today we are experiencing an unprecedented shut-down of economic, social and indeed religious life – and all during Lent. Medical necessity has imposed what spiritual discipline no longer achieves.
Nearly 600 years before Jesus went into his wilderness, Jerusalem was largely destroyed by the Babylonians. With the Temple destroyed, much of the population deported and their prayers for deliverance clearly unanswered, the nation was in shock – where was God in all this? For Israel, this time in Babylon became a wilderness experience. A time to reflect, to pray, to reconnect with God. The exile lasted 70 years and the people had to learn again the old adage: “When God seems far away, guess who’s moved”. When they finally returned, life had changed dramatically. Today’s famous vision of God bringing life to dry bones was a message of hope; ‘I will put my spirit in you and you will live’ (Ez 37:14). Here was a promise of communal restoration, but not yet. There was still much to endure and much to learn.
Like Israel of old, we too have much to learn. Over the next 2 weeks we are invited to move through the excitement of Palm Sunday, the darkness of Good Friday and into the joyful light of Easter. Invited also to be community even as we keep our distances. All this against an extended, virus induced, experience of the wilderness. Easter is not the end; it is a beginning. The coming weeks will be difficult and painful for many. But for today take hope. Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones restored to life, are a sign of the promised new life on offer when the spirit comes.