Update from Fr Paul 15th May 2020
Rector’s Reflection 19th April 2020
Ever since my ordination Easter morning has always been the same. A struggle! I say that because Holy week is both uplifting and emotionally draining as well. The night before, on the eve of Holy Saturday, the vigil service should have been celebrated within our Church, a service I have participated in for the last 17 years. The paschal Candle, that symbolises the light of Christ is lit from the holy fire and brought into a darkened Church, into a darkened world, a flickering flame representing hope in the context of the resurrected Christ. When it is placed within its holder, the exsultet, the Easter song of praise is sung. You know then that Easter is virtually upon us.
Waking up on Easter morning brings both a sense of excitement and weariness. It is tempting to think “one more service to go” but there is much truth in the saying “the best is yet to come” Easter morning at St Paulinus always starts within the old garden of remembrance with a small congregation made up of members from the various churches in Crayford. This is a prelude to the high mass in Church that follows, the greatest celebration in the Christian year
This year, however was different. With the lockdown in place and the Churches Closed, people had to find their own way of participating in the celebration of Easter. For some, that meant participation in online services, be that from their Church or from the Church of England’s website. Some may have listened to the radio or watched a service on TV. I had decided earlier in the week that I would as an individual rise early and celebrate Easter just as the sun was rising, not only to carry on the tradition of the Church, but to try in some way to understand and indeed participate in the emotions that those disciples felt on that first Easter MorningAfter changing into my cassock, and with service and hymn book in hand, I walked into the garden of remembrance as the sun rose and cast out the shadows of night from the church yard. There was something deeply satisfying in belting out those Easter hymns, Jesus Christ is risen today, now the green blade riseth, thine be the glory, they sounded like songs of defiance as well as songs of praise and celebration. The stillness of the churchyard reflecting the isolation that many people were feeling. Usually, the cross in Church forms part of the Easter display as well as the Easter garden around the font.
This year however, it seemed fitting to place the cross in the Rectory front garden. Strategically placed it would be visible to everyone walking up and down Perry street. It may, hopefully, have prompted some kind of reaction, possibly a discussion amongst people who saw it. Although it was certainly a very different kind of Easter, the meaning itself remained unchanged. An event took place over two thousand years ago. Jesus was raised into the reality of God, a reality that was experience by the followers of Jesus and later St Paul. The experience of the risen Jesus was so profound that the Early Christians believed and were prepared to die for it. St Paul turned from persecution to being the Architect of the early Christian Church. Easter then remains for us a continuing hope for a wounded world. Hope beyond our suffering, new life transcending old. Our everyday existence for the present moment is very different, but our message remains the same. We are an Easter People, and Alleluia is our song. Amen
Please find attached a service you could share over the phone or facetime during self isolation
Agape: Agape website edition
Rectors Reflection 02/04/2020
I guess this is both a plea and an observation
I don’t know what it’s like for many of you but I guess your home situation is not to dissimilar to mine during this crisis. In many ways I am lucky, I have space both in the rectory and in the gardens, so even with all my family here, it doesn’t feel as we are on top of each other. We seem to have adopted well, a bit too well if I am honest, I must confess we are enjoying laying in for a bit in the morning, and the pace of life is a lot slower.
There is though, a feeling of isolation. I for one am comfortable with it. Silence, is the opportunity where we can plunge the depths of our very being to find the God within us. Yet for some in these last few days it must be really challenging, especially if you are very outgoing. Long periods of time without seeing anyone can be very hard for those who find comfort in the company of others
Even walking down to the town today to buy a few bits of shopping is like walking into a ghost town. Shoppers are just getting their bits and going, there isn’t a lot of social interaction going on. There is a feeling of being lost.
The collect for the 5th Sunday in Lent, in the Prayer Book, says
We beseech thee, almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen
Governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul, seems very poignant for today’s situation. Governed, because we are desperate to receive Gods Guidance. Preserved, because we wish everyone can make a full recovery from the corona virus, and return
to full health, and in both body and soul, this is really important, because we need to feel strong physically, mentally and spiritually as well.
If you are struggling, let myself, Amanda or Kelly know. Or if you know anyone who is in need, then again let us know. Please do not think you will be a burden should you contact us. You won’t! Finally, we are just at the end of a phone, or a text, or an email. If you want to join St Paulinus Wassap group just let me have your mobile no, a great way to keep in touch
Do please look after yourselves, and please in your own quiet time start to turn your thoughts and prayers to this coming Palm Sunday, pray for ourselves as we will all need to find alternative ways to celebrate, and do keep looking on this page for further updates
Click the green title below to see the full version of the prayer or there is a smaller version below.
The Triptych Prayer
Heavenly Father, we pray at this time for those affected by the Corona Virus, especially those who have lost loved ones. We pray for a time of normality, and of blessing, and of resurrection.
Let your Holy spirit move amongst our community here at St Paulinus, and comfort all those who are distressed at this time. Bless our Church and School, and especially all those who feel isolated within their homes. Amen
From the Rector 27/3/2020
I took the opportunity to take my exercise in the Churchyard yesterday. There were a few people about, and it was nice to have a few brief conversations (at a distance) There was something very poignant about our locked Church, closed to the outside world, but waiting to be discovered yet again. The reserved sacrament keeping Christ present inside.
For some folk, life just carries on, and there was even the opportunity to share the odd joke or two. For all of us however, this remains a frightening time, especially if you are in a high risk group. For all of us, it means coming together as a community and helping each other out where and when we can.
We are still in lent, and it certainly feels like a barren time. I wonder if Christ himself, isolated in the wilderness, contemplated what was next, what lay in store after the barren spell has ended. We look to the future with hope, we look forward to the passing of this wilderness, but not without sorrow and sadness for those who have lost their lives. We must hold them in prayer at this time
Christ entered the wilderness to contemplate his calling and his vocation, and wrestled with temptation and hunger. Yet he left the wilderness, empowered to begin his ministry and to usher in Gods kingdom. For all of us therefore there is a great hope at the end of this long tunnel, we can leave this barren time and enter into pastures new
Please do continue to look after your friends and neighbours and inform myself if there is anyone in need. Please do look after yourselves and others! I hope the following two readings bring reflection and comfort in these troubled times
Assurance of God’s Protection
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and for evermore.
The Proclamation of John the Baptist
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler[a] of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”’
From the Rector (25/3/2020)
It is very strange and very sad as well not to be able to enter into our church building. Even more upsetting is the fact that we will not be able to celebrate Easter this year. In Celtic Daily Prayer, the office used by the clergy at St Paulinus, the compline for this evening had the following words
Calm me, O Lord, as you stilled the storm
Still me O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in your peace.
In times of trial such as this, we look towards God for his guidance, and offer our fears and anxieties up to him. We wish to be calm, as Jesus stilled the turbulent storm. It did make me reflect of those first disciples who witnessed the crucifixion, were they not afraid, and angry, and scared, and reaching out to God?
In that situation, out of all that pain came the joy of resurrection. If one thing keeps you going through this current situation, think on this, that soon we will all be gathered again in our beautiful church, amongst our Church Family to celebrate something special, resurrection. The resurrection of coming out of a lockdown society into a new begging, and the resurrection of our Lord too
We still have a way to go, perhaps months, but it will end, and when it does, we will have reason to celebrate
In the meantime
· Please do pray for those who are ill, and those who have lost their life to the corona Virus
· For Amanda our Curate, and Stuart, as they recover
· For all those who are fearful, especially our elderly members of the congregation
· For Doctors, Nurses, for our NHS, and all those striving to make our lives better
· For our government as they seek to offer guidance and leadership
A Psalm for our troubled times
God’s Defence of His City and People
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’ 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Finally, if you know anyone who is in need of shopping, or needs help, or just a phone call, please do get in touch.
I will be updating this page regularly, so do please keep logging on
With much love and prayers to you all
Fr Paul Rector