Another week has passed in these weird days of lockdown orders, of queuing patiently to get into the shops that are still open – and the distance of 2 metres now embedded for ever into our spatial awareness. The more frequent texts and calls, funny online videos often offer some amusement on what can feel like long and challenging days, and I am grateful about that.
I am also thankful for the sunshine that has appeared at the end of the week, particularly today, Palm Sunday- wearing my first T-shirt of the year! – for the birdsong I can hear outside of my flat in the early hours, and for the daily updates from the government; Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England offers much sought after and welcome guidance and reassurance. These days are a convoluted mixture of anguish and cheer, of bizarreness and routine, of faith and doubt.
We have now entered into Holy Week, when all our typical feelings are naturally heightened. As we travel from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, then finally to Easter, we will all do so at home, detached from one other, not able to physically gather as a congregation in Crown Court Church. Philip, our minister is video recording Holy Week meditations in the manse, which will be a blessing to us all.
Holy Week 2020 will completely dissimilar to any we have known before. And yet the candour, brevity and the starkness of it this year, just might grant us entry to the mystery of God’s story even more than is customary. Without the celebratory nature of public worship in the beauty of Crown Court, with inspiring music from the organ and choir, floral beauty and live fellowship in the sanctuary and the hall, we will be left only with the dramatic story—the story of love, betrayal, suffering, death, and love again.
We are all feeling like displaced people, set down in a strange, alien place. As I write this (Palm Sunday morning) I am feeling lost. Not only am I not where I really want to be, in Crown Court church, in any church. (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican- I am not fussy today!)
For a Minister, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter is special. Not just lots of things to do, extra services to plan, sermons to write- emotionally, spiritually, for the minister and his/her congregation, it is the beating heart of the matter.
And so Palm Sunday and Holy Week have always been “deep” days – from waving palm branches as we sing, “All glory, laud and honour, to thee Redeemer, King, to whom the lips of children, made sweet hosannas ring,” right through the week that ends in silence as we remember, and relive, his death on the cross.
I know there is so much worry overshadowing these days. Worry has a shrill voice in our minds and hearts right now. But let us not find ourselves out of touch with the promise that not only does our God of mercy have the whole Creation in His hands, loving and caring for it all, but God also stands with us in this time of pandemic, determined to loosen the tight grip, even stranglehold of worry, promising not to let us go, until all tears are assuredly wiped away and we are together again.
I hope we are all able to observe this Holy Week with an open heart and an open mind, prepared to tune in to what God might have to say to us all in these difficult times. I am reminded that the risen Christ went into locked rooms, where fearful disciples were gathered and isolated. In the faithfulness of God, I believe Jesus Christ will do the same for us today.
Rev Forbes Walker, member, Crown Court Church of Scotland