A message from Rev’d Stephen Edmonds – Passion Sunday

Date: March 29, 2020

Good afternoon,

“We thank thee that thy Church unsleeping, / While earth rolls onward
into light, / Through all the world her watch is keeping, / And rests not
now by day or night./ As o’er each continent and island / The dawn leads on
another day, / The voice of prayer is never silent, / Nor dies the strain
of praise away.”

Last Sunday, as I celebrated the Eucharist in St John’s, offering prayer
for the parish – knowing that all around the world, priests were doing
something similar in largely empty churches in these strange circumstances
– and this famous hymn seemed to find a new meaning. Little did we realise
that a few days later the Archbishop of Canterbury would order all his
clergy not to enter their churches in this lockdown period, now not even to
pray.

So now, the voice of prayer continues, for you all and for the nation, day
by day, but this time from the Vicarage, now hastily converted into a
little recording studio. If you had asked me a month ago,* ‘Stephen, why
don’t you record Morning and Evening Prayer for your congregation and put
it online,*’ I would have thought it a terribly eccentric way of spending
my time. But my heart is warmed by the 20-35 or so people who seem to
listen each day. Outside her shifts, my wife has leant her Caledonian tones
to parts of these offices, so you don’t get overly bored with my voice. As
we get to Holy Week, I hope to put up a short homily each day.

Many of my colleagues have leapt with tireless zeal onto video streaming,
broadcasting sermons and services from their lofts, kitchens, gardens,
oratories and orangeries. One infamous clergyman accidentally set himself
on fire with a lit candle for the world to see. I have taken a different
route. I am hoping that by keeping to the medium of audio, I can encourage
you at home to pray the liturgy, study the readings, and I can remain
merely a supplementary voice.

With your assistance and feedback, I am slowly trying to figure out how
best to do things. After saying the Offices in private since September
2018, it has been rather strange to suddenly be saying them for other
people listening – even those as far as away as Singapore, Canada and
Penrith, so the website tells me. Please do listen and send feedback.
https://soundcloud.com/stjohnswimbledon

(For those who enjoy some music, I will spare you my solo renditions of
the two hymns to be sung at Morning and Evening Prayer this week, but I
thoroughly commend them to you.* Sing my Tongue the Glorious Battle*
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e0XLLmijpM (Morning) and *Thirty Years
among us dwelling* (Evening – I can’t find this a recording of this online,
but do look up the words.)

For more music – especially a newly recorded Sanctus and Benedictus –
do listen to our music page:
https://soundcloud.com/musicatstjohns/

As the time of his passion and resurrection draws near the whole world is
called to acknowledge his hidden majesty. The power of the life-giving
cross reveals the judgement that has come upon the world and the triumph of
Christ crucified. He is the victim who dies no more, the Lamb once slain,
who lives for ever, our advocate in heaven to plead our cause. (The
Passiontide Liturgy)*

Tomorrow is Passion Sunday, the second part of Lent. If we were in church
tomorrow, you might notice the change in gear in the liturgy. Less talk of
testing in the wilderness and fasting, and more of the coming betrayal, the
Passion, and the Cross. Tomorrow we shall hear of the Ezekiel’s Valley of
Dry Bones, and St John’s account of the raising of Lazarus (readings
attached). This is the great prologue to the final days of Christ. Here he
proclaims himself as the Resurrection and the Life. Here he shows us that
death will no longer have dominion. And here we are reminded of the
Incarnation, the humanity of Christ, as Jesus wept.

Do join with me in prayer tomorrow morning – order of service below – as
I celebrate the Eucharist in the Vicarage, and pray for all of us – that as
Holy Week draws near, we made worthy of the promises of Christ, even and
especially in these strange days.

You are all prayed for over the course of the week. Do drop me a line if I
can help, or if you would like to catch up over the ‘phone.

With kind regards,

Stephen

The Rev’d Dr Stephen Edmonds
Team Vicar, St John the Baptist, Wimbledon Team Ministry

Ps – Clergy still continue to provide endless commentary on recent
events, but one that caught my attention was Pope Francis preaching,
praying and blessing *Urbi et Orbi*, ‘from the City to the World’ the other
evening. On a rain swept night he preached on Jesus stilling the storm, and
I found the homily and prayers rather moving – read below.

Passion Sunday.pdf
<https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/nvmTLdveQUqK4OS7e1PD>

Spiritual Communion SJTBW.pdf
<https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/FCIhXZ1NRbqDwDjw0YXY>

Pope Francis (March 2020) b.pdf
<https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/wns8FIyRzGfsmK5tHgGQ>

Service times

Sunday

8:30am Holy Communion (BCP)
10:15am Sung Eucharist

2nd Sunday of the month

10:15am All Welcome Service