Dear friends,

Last Sunday’s flush of rose gives way this week to another dramatic visual milestone on our continuing journey through Lent: on Passion Sunday, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the crucifixes and images in the church disappear from view, veiled in purple and violet. So will they stay until Easter, when the building once more fills with colour and beauty, to celebrate the Queen of Feasts.

In the older rites and calendars of the Church, including in the Book of Common Prayer, the Gospel reading set for the Fifth Sunday of Lent came from the conclusion of the eighth chapter of St John’s Gospel: in a tense standoff in the Temple, Jesus is accused of blasphemy and demon possession – the heat of the argument increases to the point where those listening to him reach for stones to throw at him, but (we read in the Gospel) ‘Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple’. Thus too the Christian community would in previous times “hide” the Lord  from view, veiling statues and crosses and images, as the climax of his Passion drew near.

However, this tradition might today also cause to ask whether our eyesare truly open to seeing Jesus: do we look for him actively in our daily lives? Jesus says that we will find him in the needs of our neighbour, in the fellowship of his people and in the silence of our hearts. So, with just a fortnight left of Lent, we ought now to recommit ourselves earnestly to works of charity, to faithful attendance at Mass and to private prayer and meditation, looking expectantly for the Lord.

A reminder that British Summer Time begins this Sunday, so our clocks go forward one hour overnight. Don’t be caught out, as you’ll then turn up to Mass as it’s finishing!

With Holy Week and Easter approaching, please familiarise yourselves with the times and dates of the major liturgies in Holy Week – and please make participation in these a priority. Likewise, please sign up in church, e.g. to read at the Easter Vigil, or to have a foot washed on Maundy Thursday: the list is on the table at the back. There too you will find a few remaining Easter invitation cards for us to distribute around the parish: I am asking personally those who live near to the church to deliver to the houses in their own roads – but this leaves a few roads, and a few cards, left for distribution by other members of the congregation. Simply take a few, and tick off a road, and then pop the cards through our neighbours’ front doors. You are also welcome to take cards to share with other community groups to which you belong, or in other local settings.

The revision of the parish’s Electoral Roll will take place 9-28 April: if you have joined the congregation, moved into the area, or turned 16, since last Easter, please ask for an application form.

Finally, this Sunday is the last opportunity to sign up to come on our parish pilgrimage to Walsingham, 6-9 June. The response so far has been, frankly, underwhelming – which is doubly disappointing given the lengths to which we have gone to secure external grant funding to subsidise this pilgrimage, with a total cost per person (including full-board and travel) of just £270. Please sign up this Sunday, and pay a £30 (non-returnable) deposit to secure your place.

May each of us encounter the Lord afresh in the week ahead, and see clearly his grace and guidance in our lives.

Best wishes,

Fr Richard