Letters from the Rector

The Rectory
8th April

Dear Family,

At the moment I aim to have a walk around Olney between 2pm and 3pm every afternoon. It is my allowed exercise and the timing of it reminds me of Jesus’ final hour on the cross and that what Jesus said on the cross was for me and everyone in our town.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

It helps me to thank Jesus for what He did for me and for everybody else too.

The proof that we can all be forgiven is seen in the incredible truth of what happened on the first Easter Day:

“…Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus had been raised from the dead with a new resurrection body. He had defeated the power of sin, sickness and death. The most amazing victory in history had been won. In this present age we sometimes see proof of His once and for all triumph over evil. One day in heaven we will see His conquest in all of its completeness. Then we will also see Jesus the magnificent victorious King in all of His Glory. It will be a time to be with God forever and a time to be reunited with our loved ones who have also been forgiven and raised to new life. All of this is a truth that we cannot understand completely now, but as Saint Paul wrote,

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Here on earth we are fully known and loved by God. One day in heaven we will meet God who loves us totally and forever. Easter eggs remind us of new life. The empty tomb declares to us that we can have eternal life. They say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

The proof of God’s love for you is in the resurrection!

Stay safe and God Bless,

Andrew+

 

The Rectory

1st April 2020

Dear Family,

In such difficult times, it is good to know that even if we cannot be with each other, we can think of each other and pray for each other. We are about to remember some of the most amazing events in the history of the world. Of course there is Christmas when we remember the human birth of Jesus, and then there is this coming week that leads us up to Easter Day. Do read the sermons and thoughts posted each day as an aid to remembering the sad events and the wonderful events of Easter. In addition here is an outline with some Bible verses and a thought for each day that you might find useful.

Palm Sunday 5th Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people laid palm branches in His path.
Read Luke 19:28-42 and Zechariah 9:9.
Praise God today for His coming into your life.

Monday 6th Jesus in the Temple.
Read Luke 19:45-20:8.
Think about your body as a temple where God dwells.

Tuesday 7th Jesus taught in the Temple.
Read Luke 20:1-40.
Thank God for Jesus’ teaching and the Bible.

Wednesday 8th Read about who Jesus said He was and the reactions of the people
in Luke 20:41-47 & Luke 22:1-6.
Decide afresh to listen to Jesus’ teaching, to honour Him and follow Him.

Maundy Thursday 9th The Day of the Last Supper – Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.
Read Luke 22:7-46. Jesus celebrated the Passover, recalling when God, through Moses, delivered the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. The night before, the Hebrews put the blood of a lamb on the door mantle so the angel of death would pass them by.
Jesus told us to remember Him (God’s sacrificial lamb) when we break bread and drink wine.

Good Friday 10th Remember Jesus on the cross for our sakes between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm.
Read Luke 22:47-23:48 and John 19:1-37.
Give thanks for God’s forgiveness for you, paid for by Jesus on the cross.

Holy Saturday 12th The women left Jesus’ body in the tomb for the Sabbath.
Read Luke 23:50-56 and John 19:38-42.
We cannot always see Jesus but He is always thinking of you and always there for you.

Sunday 13th       Easter Day!       Praise God!       The Lord Is Risen Indeed!
Read Luke 24 and John 20.
Thank God that Jesus is alive and present to bless you and be with you.

Stay safe and God bless you,                                                                          

Andrew+

For more Easter resources / services please see:
https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/churchs-year/times-and-seasons/easter-liturgy#mmm175

(My thanks to Julie for her original material on Holy Week)

 

The Rectory

24th March 2020

Dear Family,

Are you, like me, still processing the incredible changes that have taken place over these last days?  A week ago I was free to meet with you, to shop, have a meal in a public place, go for a swim, and now I can only leave the house under limited circumstances. 

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 23rd March we received confirmation from the Bishop of Oxford that all churches must now close. So it is with a heavy heart that we have to lock the doors of our wonderful church building. Now the church family is not able to be together physically we have to trust God that there is an opportunity in all of this for us to be creative, prayerful and grow in intimacy with both God and each other.

One thing that we can do together is to adopt the practice of pausing at 11 am each day (if your schedule and work permits) to say Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. In doing so, we will be joining in prayer with the Pope, countless Catholics, our Archbishops, Anglicans and Christians from many other Churches all around the world. If 11 am doesn’t work for you, then perhaps another daily time will? Let us remember and be sure, that whatever the time is and wherever we are, “The Lord is my Shepherd” and “Our Father” is God Almighty. As I say to those I meet when I take my daily exercise walk, “Stay safe and God bless.”

With love and prayers for all,

Andrew

Dear Family,

We are experiencing unprecedented times of great confusion, and possibly fear and isolation.  As the church family we want you to know that we are seeking ways to offer practical, emotional and spiritual support to you and your neighbours.

We are, of course, following all the advice of Public Health England and the Church of England in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and are taking steps to ensure we keep our congregations, volunteers, event attendees and staff as safe as is possible.

During the very difficult weeks that we have ahead of us, let us not become discouraged but place our trust in our mighty God.  The Lord offers us hope in times of trouble and a peace which is beyond understanding. That hope and peace is given to us to share with others in our community.

Services and Gatherings

On the advice of the Church of England, our gathered worship over the coming weeks is now suspended.  This includes all the services and activities that St Peter and St Paul Church is involved in running.  From 17th March the following have been postponed until further notice:

Sunday services (including Fun@Four), Wednesday Communion, Church Mice, Soul Time Café, Alpha, Memory Club, YAGs, Choir, Bell ringing, Soul Time Breakfast, and Knitty Stitchers.

Pastoral and prayer care for the isolated

We are committed to maintaining meaningful contact with our wider church family, particularly those who are choosing to self-isolate or who become unwell.

This means:

  • Keeping a list of those who are unwell or choosing to self-isolate – please let us know via the church office if you want to be included
  • Providing an online daily ‘thought for the day’ based on scriptures
  • Providing service outlines so that we can worship individually knowing that we are doing so at the same time as the rest of the church family
  • Providing online or prepackaged craft/activity packs for children; see Church Mice on Facebook
  • Seeking to support and communicate with those who do not have internet access and providing appropriate paper resources
  • Putting together a phone call system so that each person who is isolated has regular contact with someone, and knows who to call for help or just a friendly chat – please let us know via the church office if you want to be included
  • Offering a confidential listening phone service for anyone feeling troubled. Half-hour sessions to be available by appointment on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10am and noon. To book a time slot, please contact Caroline Eglinton on 0333 210 0121.  She will return your call if necessary.
  • Offering confidential prayer support – initial contact with the Church office
  • Helping with practical needs where possible e.g. food and medication

If you are isolated or in need yourself, while we may not be able to visit you at home, please let us know by contacting the church office, office@olney.church or on 01234 241721.

If you would like to assist by offering any of the above provisions or have other helpful ideas please contact us via the church office and you will be referred to the relevant person.

The Bishop of Oxford has written:

“The most important message we want to send to everyone in the Diocese and the wider community at this time of necessary distancing is that you are not alone. God is with us…

Our churches remain open; our faith in God is undiminished; public worship may be suspended, but the life of God’s kingdom is inextinguishable.” 

With love and prayers for all,

Andrew

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear” (Psalm 46:1-2)