A letter from the Vicarage – Rev’d Andy Stand

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
(Matt 27: 45)

I am writing this letter just a day or so after the latest terrorist attack, this time within our own nation, outside the seat of power and government of our land. The killing of innocent people, going about their daily business in Westminster, casts a shadow and brings with it fear. Life has gone on, some would say (in defiance of the violent act itself), as it had before, but I suspect that is not true and can never be true, when an act makes such an impact upon us all.

The act may cause us to stop, and pause and ask where God is at times like this; it should also cause to stop and ask, “What can be done?”, “What should be done?”, “Can anything be done?” and “What should our own response be?” We might even want to ask, “What would Jesus do?”. How do we make sense of such acts of violence and terror?

In his response to the tragedy, in the House of Lords, the day after the atrocity took place, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made reference to the time of year that we are looking towards. He spoke of the values of a society, where individuals would try to treat the person who has committed this outrage, and stated that they come from the deep narrative of 2000 years ago, that we shall mark and celebrate again this month.

We know, that the events of 2000 years ago, brought darkness in the middle of the day, and we will reflect that in our worship particularly on the Monday of Holy Week at St. Mark’s, where the service will include the Tenebrae actions of extinguishing candles and light.

We will remember that even in the midst of sharing a meal with his disciples, the darkness deepened, as the betrayer left table and went out into the night. We will remember this by sharing a Communion meal at Whittington, and then we will remember Jesus’ personal agonies, as he struggled to make sense of it all for himself in the garden. We’ll mark that by keeping a watch ourselves after the Communion service. If you wish to come to share Communion, but are not able to stay and keep watch, then that is fine. I intend that there should be space after the stripping of the altar that concludes the Communion service, for people to leave if they wish. You should also feel free to get up and leave the watch (quietly please) at whatever point in time you feel you need to. Please don’t feel that if you can’t manage the whole of the watch that you can’t come to the service or to the watch.

We will remember Christ’s darkest hour (or should that be humanity’s darkest hour?), in a service at Whittington again, on Good Friday as we spend time reflecting upon Christ’s cross, His death and His passion.

We will remember that Jesus was never immune, emotionally or physically from the sufferings of creation; from the injustice of politics and politicking, but that He embraced the road of suffering, because that’s who He is, that is His nature, that is who God is. And He did it to redeem the darkness, to dispel it, and to bring light and joy and hope and peace to a troubled world.

We will remember this on Easter morning, at the dawn service at St. Martin’s (5.30 a.m.), and at our later services at St. Mark’s (9.30 a.m.) and at Whittington (11.00 a.m.) on Easter Day.

Do come and join us for as many of these services as you are able, and do have a blessed and glorious Easter.

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, … the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid’; … ‘He is Risen!’ (Matt 28: 1, 5, 7)


St. Philip & St. James Parish Church Whittington, Worcs. WR5 2RQ