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The Parish Chronicle

View or download the edited current issue:   April 2020
Please note, there will be no Chronicle published for May, June or July. A decision about further months will be made later.

Denmead "Parish Chronicle" is published monthly. It is a full-colour publication and contains an interesting variety of articles from the Church and many village groups and organisations, as well as a comprehensive listing of what's on in the various venues around the village.

Do pick up a copy from the Church or Church Office, at 50p per copy, or contact the office to arrange regular delivery!

To submit an article for the Chronicle please email: chronicle@allsaintsdenmead.org.uk by 10th of the month preceding publication.

Excerpt from the Current Issue

Dear Friends, 

My goodness, how the world changes... I think all of us feel like we’re living in alien, strange territory right now.

Just three months ago, Corona was only a Mexican beer, hand-sanitiser was something you only really used when visiting hospitals and some of us probably thought that Covid-19 was some distant, unknown planet! 

In recent weeks, we’ve seen some unprecedented, unbelievable, significant changes in response to the threat and spread of the Coronavirus.  Preventative measures are already in place, with more set to follow, which are seeking to minimise the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable.  These are serious times and due care must be given to good personal hygiene, social distancing, washing hands frequently, not touching faces with unwashed hands, and making sure we catch, bin and kill coughs and sneezes to limit the spread of germs and viruses.  This is good, sound wisdom and common sense which we all must follow.

What’s struck me as I’ve watched the way in which the media have reported and surveyed our nation’s reaction, is that fear and anxiety is out there, everywhere.  Fear affects how we think and how we react.  Out of fear, decent men and women are now unashamedly stealing medicinal handwash. Out of fear, people are now grappling with each other for toilet roll, pasta, rice, meat, milk, eggs, paracetamol, and much, much more. Out of fear, men and women are avoiding acts of kindness.  Fear distorts what we are, and what we are supposed to be. 

In the Bible we read the phrase ‘perfect love drives out fear.’ (1 John 4:18).  

But how, what does this ‘perfect love’ look like?

Beginning on the 5th April we remember the roller-coaster of Holy Week, as we travel from the excitement of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the confusion and fear caused by Judas' betrayal of Jesus on Maundy Thursday. Then, on Good Friday, we call to mind Jesus' death on the cross, a cruel death, designed to strip its victims of every shred of human dignity they possessed. The Romans crucified many hundreds of people and to some it must have seemed that Jesus was destined to become just another nameless victim of the Roman occupation.

The Church of England priest and poet Malcom Guite has written a series of poems that tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You can find them on his blog: www.malcolmguite.wordpress.com

One of them reflects on the point when Jesus’ dead body is taken down from the cross – a point when everything seems lost, when it looks like fear has won, and yet the seeds of life, light and hope have been sown and are waiting to burst forth:

XIII Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross

His spirit and his life he breathes in all

Now on this cross his body breathes no more

Here at the centre everything is still

Spent, and emptied, opened to the core.

A quiet taking down, a prising loose

A cross-beam lowered like a weighing scale

Unmaking of each thing that had its use

A long withdrawing of each bloodied nail,

This is ground zero, emptiness, space, fear

With nothing left to say or think or do

But look unflinching on the sacred face

That cannot move or change or look at you.

Yet in that prising loose and letting be

He has unfastened you and set you free.

Malcolm Guite

 

Even in that moment of death, where fear was at its greatest, God’s power is at work in ways that set us free. Christians believe that Jesus' death was not simply the end of the life of an ordinary man, but the beginning of a new relationship between God and his people. 

We believe that on the morning of that first Easter Sunday, when Mary Magdalene went to Jesus' tomb, she didn't just find that Jesus' body had gone, she came face to face with the risen Jesus, resurrected from the dead and revealed as the Son of God. 

We believe that through his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus has opened the gates of heaven to all who believe in him, that he has given eternal life to all who will receive it. From the cruelty of Jesus' execution on the cross has come God's overflowing generosity to all who will acknowledge and accept it. This is our faith, and this is why we celebrate Easter with joyful hearts, hands and voices.  

This is ‘perfect love’ in all its glory.  This ‘perfect love’ can set us free; freedom from our anxieties, freedom from all the stress, strain and struggles we face.  This ‘perfect love’ gives us a hope, a steadfast certainty, something worth holding on to and trusting in, amidst these unsettling, fearful times.  

You see, fear has not won – Jesus Christ – the ‘perfect love’ has the final say.

This year we will not be able to meet to celebrate Easter Sunday – but the truth and power of Easter – a risen Jesus Christ, ‘perfect love’, remains true and firm.

The Bible tells us that only hours before Jesus was arrested and tried, he made a very special promise to his disciples: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27).  That was the peace of a Saviour’s heart who was capable of resisting the pressure of fear.  It’s the peace that allows us to be stable, solid and caring whatever fears there may be.  It is the peace, the very presence of Jesus himself, we need now and, in the days, weeks and months ahead of us.  May you and I be granted it.

May God's blessing, peace and ‘perfect love’ rest on you this Easter,

Emma

Revd Emma Racklyeft 

Vicar at All Saints, Denmead