Holy Week in a pandemic: Monday

8.55am I am stood in the kitchen making coffee and I’m feeling a lot more positive than yesterday. I’m thinking about what the Queen said in her speech last night and I am so grateful for her wisdom and courage. I’m reading a book about her faith at the moment, and more than ever I am inclined to listen to her because, let’s face it, she has seen a lot of difficult things in her lifetime!

12.00pm This morning has been fab so far; morning prayer with the benefice ministry team and brunch with my cell group! Brunch over skype with friends certainly wouldn’t usually be able to happen in holy week, so that is one benefit of the current change of circumstance!

2.30pm I have just finished scripting a children’s service for Friday. Nathan and I will have a go at doing an online assembly together – watch this space!

This afternoon we have a deanery chapter meeting on zoom where we will renew our commitment to ministry. On a normal Holy Week Monday, the clergy in Liverpool diocese gather together in the Cathedral for a service. It’s a time to relax and receive in a busy week and we also renew the vows we made at our baptisms and ordinations. This year, we’ve been encouraged to have the service remotely, and in our deanery we decided to pray and have communion together over zoom.

4.15pm I don’t know if I’ve said before, but Nathan and I have volunteered to be chaplains in the local hospital over the next few weeks. One of my favourite clergy shirt suppliers, Lotties Eco, has started making face masks out of scrap material. I asked if we could buy a couple and she said she would send them free of charge! Well, today, the masks arrived and there are 10! They are different colours, and they are gorgeous. On a side note, we are quite amused that when Nathan puts the black mask on, he could pass for a clerical bank robber!

5.00pm We’re back home after a walk in the sunshine. By the time we finished the chapter meeting, the sun was bright and the sky was blue so we went for a wander. It was so good to blow the cobwebs away.

8.40pm Tonight I have cooked tea (bacon and leek pasta, using my sister’s recipe!), video called my family and listened to Nathan sing as he said Compline with his church online. We are now watching Garden Rescue and unwinding. The fact that I am watching a gardening programme to relax has shocked me. As a child, I hated the things! When did I get so grown up?!

Anyway, today is Monday of Holy Week, and in the New Tetament reading this morning, a woman poured an expensive jar of perfumed oil over Jesus. Judas grumbled ‘why wasn’t this perfume sold? The money could have been given to the poor’. Jesus responded ‘the poor will always be with you, but I will not be. She has shown me honour’.

The text says that Judas held the common purse for the disciples, which he often dipped into, and so he wasn’t really concerned about the poor when he spoke to Jesus. He wanted to take a cut of any income! But even so, I can understand that particular question.

The other night, I went on Twitter to see the responses to Archbishop John Sentamu on Question Time. Somebody said ‘now that services aren’t happening, why can’t churches try to help homeless people?’. I couldn’t bring myself to respond, because there are so many points to make, more than could be said in one tweet! But I do understand the question. The church cannot exist for itself alone, it must exist for the community too. But it cannot just exist for the community, it must also exist for worship and to honour God.

I think Jesus is saying that it’s about balance. There will always be need, and we should never forget or neglect that. But when we have the chance to honour God with our finances and resources, we should.

In pouring that oil, the woman anointed Jesus for his burial. Perhaps, after the noise and chaos of yesterday, this was a much needed moment of calm for Jesus. Away from the crowds, away from the never ending questions, away from the threat of death, this woman, whoever she was, honoured him, anointed him and provided a holy space in an otherwise dark time.

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