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Sunday, 5 April 2020


16th-Century Icon of the Entry into Jerusalem

Dear Friends
Over the last century considerable research has been carried out into the liturgical practices of the early Church. Scholars have unearthed ancient texts and documents which throw a new light on the way in which services were conducted in the first centuries, and these, in turn, have led to revisions in the way in which we conduct services today.
Nowhere is this more true than in the Church of England, which, during the 1980s, ‘reinvented’ the way in which services during Lent, Holy Week and Easter were organized.
I remember, from my time at theological college, how the advent of a book called Lent, Holy Week and Easter transformed the way in which we kept this special time of year, which of course recalls the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lent, Holy Week and Easter drew on the diary of Egeria, probably a French or Spanish nun, who visited Jerusalem on a pilgrimage there between AD381 and 384. She describes the services she attended, which involved walks to and from the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem, as well as along the via dolorosa. Apparently, according to her account, these events were seen as one long service, which took place over several days: on Palm Sunday, palm branches were carried to commemorate the entry into Jerusalem, although no donkey was used; on Wednesday in Holy Week the focus was on Judas plotting Jesus’ betrayal; Thursday recalled the Last Supper, the washing of the disciples’ feet and the agony in the garden; Good Friday focused upon the crucifixion, and then Holy Saturday night was devoted to the Easter Vigil, with much longer readings than we would use these days. The entirety made up a single drama, broken up into a series of ‘acts’.

All these aspects continue to be recognizable within our own liturgical commemorations, although our services also draw inspiration from the medieval passion plays, during which the Franciscans introduced tableaux vivants to bring the events to life – something unheard of in Egeria’s day.

Sadly, of course, we shall not able to participate in these services this year, but we can meditate on the Scriptural readings (as published in the magazine) and in this way the events can, once again, become real for us and will help to fortify and renew our faith.

Fr Stephen

Collect for Palm Sunday
Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever.

Philippians 2.5-11

A Reading from the letter of Paul to the Philippians

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,

he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death -
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the Glory of God the Father.

Matthew 21.1-11

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

When they had come near Jerusalem
and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,

"Go into the village ahead of you,
and immediately you will find a donkey tied,
and a colt with her;
untie them and bring them to me.

If anyone says anything to you, just say this,
'The Lord needs them.'
And he will send them immediately."

This took place
to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

"Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you, 
humble, and mounted on a donkey, 
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;

they brought the donkey and the colt,
and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, 
and others cut branches from from the trees 
and spread them on the road.

The crowds that went ahead of him
and that followed were shouting,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

When he entered Jerusalem,
the whole city was in turmoil, asking, "Who is this?"

The crowds were saying,
"This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee."

Service Times

First Sunday in the Month:
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Family Service

Second Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Third Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Sung Matins

Fourth Sunday in the Month
08:00am Holy Communion
10:00am Parish Eucharist

Variations can be found in the Parish Magazine or the Calendar at the bottom of this page.

Useful links

Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:

  1. St Mary's Facebook page
  2. Chichester Cathedral will be live streaming services. For the Eucharist and order of service Click here before 10:00am Sunday and follow the instructions.
  3. The BBC Daily Service is available here.
  4. Prayer for today.
  5. The C of E youtube channel.
  6. Hearing You is a new phone help line launched by the Diocese of Chichester in partnership with Together in Sussex in response to the impact that Covid 19 has had on Just about the whole community. It aims to provide pastoral support and a listening ear to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  7. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.

Please note that St Mary's are not responsible for the contents of external links

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