News for April 2017
What a difference a day makes….as the old song goes!
I am writing this month’s letter the day after the wonderful and memorable service at The Good Shepherd on 19th March for my Collation and Induction as your Vicar. I still can’t quite believe it, after twelve years here as Priest in Charge.
And what a day it was! Thank you to everyone for your wonderful support and prayers, cards and messages, cake and gifts, and for all the hard work and planning which went into making the service and the celebrations afterwards so very special.
It was lovely to have my family, friends, church family, and others from the community all together to share the celebration.
It was, of course, a day of double celebrations. Bishop Andrew also presented us with our Family Friendly Church award. This is the result of a lot of hard work from our Children’s Ministry team particularly, but also those who are involved in the different areas of our work with children, young people and their families. But, of course, we all have a part to play in making them welcome. The Welcome Award is a wonderful achievement, but also a great responsibility. Newcomers will rightly have high expectations of us as a church community. The challenge now will be living up to the award; growing into the name of a ‘Family Friendly Church’. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels! We also have an action plan to work on, with the hope of making further progress in the years to come.
Our thoughts should now be turning to Holy Week, as we prepare ourselves to walk with Jesus through his last days on that path of self-giving and sacrificial love which led to his death on the cross on Good Friday, and beyond to the joy and wonder of that first Easter Day.
Here at The Good Shepherd, there will be special services and evening events each day from Palm Sunday to Easter Day to help you to ‘live’ Holy Week.
On Palm Sunday, the service starts outside the Community Centre. (Do wrap up warmly.) We hear the Gospel reading of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and palm crosses will be blessed and distributed. We then process into church to continue the service. One of the traditions of Palm Sunday is to hear what is known as the Passion Gospel, the account of Jesus’ suffering and death. This year we will be hearing the account from St Matthew’s gospel. You may like to read it in preparation for the service, or even use it for your own prayers and reflection during Holy Week. (Matthew ch.26. v. 36 – ch.27, v.54)
In the evening, there will be a Taizé service at 6pm. We will gather around the cross for a time of gentle, reflective singing, prayer and silence to help prepare us for the days ahead. This service will have a very different ‘feel’ from the morning service – a time quite simply to be with Jesus, and all who suffer. This Holy Week, the plight of those in Eastern Africa will be particularly in our thoughts and prayers.
On Maundy Thursday, we gather in the evening to celebrate the Eucharist and share a meal together as we remember the Last Supper. This is always a very special and intimate part of Holy Week for those who come. The meal finishes with the reading of the Gospel of The Watch (Luke ch.22. v.31-62). This reminds us of Jesus’ time with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane and his arrest. The Pastoral Room is set aside as our own Garden of Gethsemane, and up to midnight we are invited to come and ‘watch and pray’ with Jesus. Do come as and when you can to spend some time in prayer there from around 9.30 pm.
On Good Friday, there will be two opportunities for worship. In the morning at 11am, there will be the Walk of Witness in Maidenhead; an opportunity to gather together with Christians from other churches in the area to remember Jesus' final suffering and his death. This is suitable for those with children as there are just short stops on the walk for a Bible reading, prayer and hymn. The Walk of Witness ends at the Methodist Church in the High Street with drinks and hot cross buns.
Here at the Good Shepherd, our Good Friday worship will start with the Stations of the Cross at 1.30 pm, followed by a short reflective service with hymns, prayers and readings at 2.15 pm. Come when you can, for as long as you can. There are also special activities and worship for children on offer between 1.30 and 3 pm in the Conference Room. Parents may remain with the children, or take the opportunity to spend some time joining the worship in church.
The week comes to a climax on Easter Day as we celebrate with our special Festival Eucharist. We begin in darkness in the Highfield Hall. The Paschal candle is lit from a new fire, and we will process to the Victory Hall making a symbolic journey from darkness to light. Candles will be lit as we share the light of Christ and proclaim those wonder-filled words, 'The Lord is risen!’ We will renew our baptism vows, celebrate the Eucharist together, and let our alleluias ring out. We rejoice that Jesus has overcome the power of sin and death, and opened to us the gate of eternal life. What a difference a day makes….
Wishing you all a blessed Holy Week, and a very Happy Easter,
Easter Even at All Saints
On Saturday evening at 8pm, we are invited to join All Saints, Boyne Hill for their ‘Easter Even’ service. This will begin with a Vigil (with readings from the Old Testament and psalms), followed by the lighting of a new fire and the Paschal Candle, the renewal of baptism vows, and the first Eucharist of Easter. If you have never experienced this service, I do recommend it.
Easter Day Dawn Eucharist
Our friends at St Luke’s also invite any early risers who wish to join them for their Dawn Eucharist at 6am on Ray Mill Island on Easter Day, followed by breakfast.