Online Worship: 18th April 2021, Third Sunday of Easter

This Sunday is the 18th of April 2021,
the third Sunday of Easter.

Alleluia. Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed. Allelulia!

Welcome to our Online Worship for this week. Today is the third Sunday of the season of Easter. Rev David is back with us online this week and reflecting on times of refreshing, joy and our hope of a coming Kingdom through the lens of Easter. Our thanks also to Christie for providing the reading for today.

With non-essential shops opening this week, and the vaccination programme continuing, we are slowly seeing a return to relative normality. Nonetheless, there are individuals and families who still have reasons to be cautious. So if you need any help or support, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Notices

Please do take a few moments to read the notices, including details of our forthcoming annual meetings taking place this week. There are also links to the annual reports and financial accounts. This page will tell you more.

Songs to sing today

Before the throne of God above

We have a Gospel to proclaim

All-Age: Give you everything I’ve got

There’s a lot of new song-writing going on at the moment. Here’s a new one from Spring Harvest 2021 which we hope all the children and families will enjoy!

Virtual Sunday School

4front Theatre and St Peter’s in Worcester have taken a break this week but we’ve found one of the early videos from Nat and Rob and the rest of the team from this time last year. Today they are talking about the Psalms and building a fort!

David’s video sermon for this Sunday

00:28 the Bible Reading with Christie, 02:11 onwards the Sermon with Rev David.

Prayers for today

Prayers of Intercession
for Easter season

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world,
bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations …
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry …
and nourish us all with your word.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life,
be with us and all who follow you in the way …
Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep,
recover the straggler, bind up the injured, strengthen the sick
and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life,
we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you …
Raise us with them to eternal life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us,
accept our prayers, and be with us always.
Amen.

A prayer about the COVID-19 pandemic

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

The Collect for this Sunday

Risen Christ,
you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
strengthen us to proclaim your risen life
and fill us with your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Blessing

May God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Be at peace. Love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Resources for the week ahead

Prayer pointers

  • Those who have asked for our prayers (Offham): Jim & Jean Brown, Ron Marchant, Cynthia & John Noble, Malcolm Scott, Irina Walker, Hazel Watson.
  • Those who have asked for our prayers (West Malling): Jane Best-Shaw, Robin & Rosemary Law, Barbara & Graham Norton, Barbara Pallett, Stuart Richards, Eileen Vickers, Janet & John Wincott, Ann, Heather, William, Stephanie, Michael, Alice, Jennifer and Thomas, Rene and Lauren.
  • For the families of Patricia Williams, baby Shelby-Grace Apps and Sylvia Lucas, who have all died recently.
  • For those in our congregation whose work has been furloughed or for those who have been laid off. For peace of mind and heart, for their economic well-being and ability to meet their needs, and for a sense of purpose and structure in their days to aid well-being and mental health while at home.
  • Giving thanks for those who serve at the Altar in our churches, praying for them as they seek to return and giving thanks for all they do to support our worship.
  • Prayers for St Mary’s Church and the people of West Malling.
  • As we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, we pray for the UK and world authorities; political, medical, scientific, civil and religious. We pray especially for those involved in caring for the sick and dying, and those who are working to distribute the vaccine.
  • Giving thanks for the life of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and praying for HM the Queen and their children and wider family as they grieve.
  • For HM Queen and our nation, for the Prime Minister and Government, for loving and respectful discourse, truth and integrity in political life.
  • For unity and reconciliation in our nation following our departure from the European Union.
  • For authorities and emergency services working in areas of war, humanitarian or ecological tragedy including all nations affected by Coronavirus. Especially we pray for the USA, India, Brazil and Russia, for Myanmar, for Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Yemen.
  • For local mission partners at Pilsdon, Spadework and Kenward Trust.

Daily Prayer

It is now possible to pray each day via the Church of England website with Morning and Evening Prayer and Prayer during the Day all provided, along with the correct lectionary readings for each day.

There’s also an App you can download to get the same material direct to your smartphone or tablet device.

Since this facility is now available, we won’t be reprinting the lectionary readings each week here on this page.

Find out more here:
https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer

Online Worship: 11th April 2021, Second Sunday of Easter

This Sunday is the 11th of April 2021,
the second Sunday of Easter.

The incredulity of St Thomas
by Caravaggio

Alleluia. Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed. Allelulia!

Welcome to our Online Worship for this week. Today is the second Sunday of the season of Easter.

This week Rev David is taking a post-Easter break so Canon Alan has kindly recorded a sermon for our Online Worship today. Our thanks also to Sue for providing the reading today.

This material was all recorded prior to the death of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. While our local response to this news is being adapted in the light of Covid-19, you can find out more on our website about our initial response as parishes and things you can do to express your condolences.

While there is a growing confidence in the nation as the vaccination programme continues, there are individuals and families who still have reasons to be cautious. So if you need any help or support, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Notices

Please do take a few moments to read the notices, including details of our forthcoming annual meetings with the links to the annual reports and accounts. This page will tell you more.

Songs to sing today

Name of all majesty

Breathe on me, breath of God

All-Age: The Spirit lives to set us free

Virtual Sunday School

4front Theatre and St Peter’s in Worcester have more Sunday School fun from Nat and Rob and the rest of the team. Today they are talking about the Beatitudes, a series of blessings Jesus gave at the start of the Sermon on the Mount.

Alan’s video sermon for this Sunday

00:28 the Bible Reading with Sue, 02:48 onwards the Sermon with Canon Alan.

Prayers for today

Prayers of Intercession
for Easter season

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world,
bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations …
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life, give food to the hungry …
and nourish us all with your word.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life,
be with us and all who follow you in the way …
Deepen our appreciation of your truth and fill us with your life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep,
recover the straggler, bind up the injured, strengthen the sick
and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life,
we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you …
Raise us with them to eternal life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us,
accept our prayers, and be with us always.
Amen.

A prayer about the COVID-19 pandemic

Lord God, loving Creator,
You fashioned us from clay,
and breathed life into us.
We are made and loved by you.

Heavenly Father,
Your Spirit fills us with hope
and lights the path to fullness of life.
Hear us!
As we cry out to you, uncertain and afraid.

In your mercy, Lord,
grant us the strength to rebuild
when all seems lost,
and the courage to reach out
to those in pain.
Amen.

The Collect for this Sunday

Risen Christ,
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Blessing

May God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Be at peace. Love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Resources for the week ahead

Prayer pointers

  • Those who have asked for our prayers (Offham): Jim & Jean Brown, Ron Marchant, Cynthia & John Noble, Malcolm Scott, Irina Walker, Hazel Watson.
  • Those who have asked for our prayers (West Malling): Jane Best-Shaw, Robin & Rosemary Law, Barbara & Graham Norton, Barbara Pallett, Stuart Richards, Eileen Vickers, Janet & John Wincott, Ann, Heather, William, Stephanie, Michael, Alice, Jennifer and Thomas, Rene and Lauren.
  • For the families of Patricia Williams, baby Shelby-Grace Apps and Sylvia Lucas, who have all died recently.
  • For those in our congregation who go to school or college. For enthusiasm in their studies, good friendships and a faithful witness to Jesus.
  • Giving thanks for our Bell ringers, praying for them as they seek to return and giving thanks for all they do to announce celebrations and call people to worship.
  • Prayers for St Michael’s and the people of Offham.
  • As we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, we pray for the UK and world authorities; political, medical, scientific, civil and religious. We pray especially for those involved in caring for the sick and dying, and those who are working to distribute the vaccine.
  • Giving thanks for the life of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and praying for HM the Queen and their children and wider family at this time of mourning.
  • For HM Queen and our nation, for the Prime Minister and Government, for loving and respectful discourse, truth and integrity in political life.
  • For unity and reconciliation in our nation following our departure from the European Union.
  • For authorities and emergency services working in areas of war, humanitarian or ecological tragedy including all nations affected by Coronavirus. Especially we pray for the USA, India, Brazil and Russia, for Myanmar, for Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Yemen.
  • For David & Robin Stearns, mission link partners in Uganda.

Daily Prayer

It is now possible to pray each day via the Church of England website with Morning and Evening Prayer and Prayer during the Day all provided, along with the correct lectionary readings for each day.

There’s also an App you can download to get the same material direct to your smartphone or tablet device.

Since this facility is now available, we won’t be reprinting the lectionary readings each week here on this page.

Find out more here:
https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer

Online Worship: 4th April 2021, Easter Sunday

This Sunday is the 4th of April 2021,
Easter Sunday.

Alleluia. Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed. Allelulia!

Welcome to our Online Worship for this week. Today is Easter Sunday. Christians everywhere around our world are celebrating the joyous truth of Jesus, risen from the grave, victorious over sin and death, making complete our justification and securing the promise of everlasting life.

Rev David’s sermon this week focuses on Mary Magdalene and how John’s Gospel places her right at the centre of that first Easter day as the very first witness to Jesus’ resurrection. Our thanks also to Jaki for providing the reading today.

While there is a growing confidence in the nation as the vaccination programme continues, there are individuals and families who still have reasons to be cautious. So if you need any help or support, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Notices

Please do take a few moments to read the notices, including details of our forthcoming annual meetings. This page will tell you more.

Songs to sing today

Thine be the glory

See what a morning

All-Age: Easter jubilation

Virtual Sunday School

4front Theatre and St Peter’s in Worcester have more Sunday School fun from Nat and Rob and the rest of the gang this week. Today they are celebrating Easter Sunday, including an epic egg rolling competition.

David’s video sermon for this Sunday

00:28 the Bible Reading with Jaki, 03:31 onwards the Sermon with Rev David.

Prayers for today

Prayers of Intercession
for Easter Sunday

In joy and hope let us pray to the Father.

That our risen Saviour may fill us with the joy of his glorious and life-giving resurrection …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That isolated and persecuted churches may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That God may grant us humility to be subject to one another in Christian love …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That he may provide for those who lack food, work or shelter …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That by his power war and famine may cease through all the world …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick, the weak and the dying,
to comfort and strengthen them …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That, according to his promises,
all who have died in the faith of the resurrection may be raised on the last day …
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

That he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people,
so that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection,
we pray to the Father.
Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant that, as his death has recalled us to life,
so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

A prayer about the COVID-19 pandemic

Protect us, Lord, and be with us
especially those of us most vulnerable
during this coronavirus crisis.

Move us to reach out in love
to our neighbours near and far.
So that the humble may be exalted,
the hungry filled with good things.

Grant us the courage
not to rush back to our old ways,
but to rebuild our world together,
creating foundations of justice,
with equality and peace for all.
Amen.

The Collect for this Sunday

God of glory,
by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open
in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Blessing

May God,
who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
has given us the victory,
give you joy and peace in your faith;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Be at peace. Love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Resources for the week ahead

Prayer pointers

  • Those who have asked for our prayers (Offham): Jim & Jean Brown, Ron Marchant, Cynthia & John Noble, Malcolm Scott, Irina Walker, Hazel Watson.
  • Those who have asked for our prayers (West Malling): Jane Best-Shaw, Robin & Rosemary Law, Barbara & Graham Norton, Barbara Pallett, Stuart Richards, Eileen Vickers, Janet & John Wincott, Ann, Heather, William, Stephanie, Michael, Alice, Jennifer and Thomas, Rene and Lauren.
  • For the families of Kenneth Holman, Patricia Williams, baby Shelby-Grace Apps and Sylvia Lucas, who have all died recently.
  • For those in our congregation who live alone. For balance in times of fellowship and their own space, for God’s presence always with them.
  • Giving thanks for our Bishops James and Simon, our Archdeacon Julie, Area Dean Wil and for Rev David and our local ministry team this Easter.
  • Prayers for all six churches of our local Cluster and their communities: Kings Hill, Mereworth, Offham, Wateringbury, West Malling and West Peckham.
  • As we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, we pray for the UK and world authorities; political, medical, scientific, civil and religious. We pray especially for those involved in caring for the sick and dying, and those who are working to distribute the vaccine.
  • For HM Queen and our nation, for the Prime Minister and Government, for loving and respectful discourse, truth and integrity in political life.
  • For unity and reconciliation in our nation following our departure from the European Union.
  • For authorities and emergency services working in areas of war, humanitarian or ecological tragedy including all nations affected by Coronavirus. Especially we pray for the USA, India, Brazil and Russia, for Myanmar, for Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Yemen.
  • For Daniel & Sarah Brito Medeiros, CMS mission link partners in Brazil.

Daily Prayer

It is now possible to pray each day via the Church of England website with Morning and Evening Prayer and Prayer during the Day all provided, along with the correct lectionary readings for each day.

There’s also an App you can download to get the same material direct to your smartphone or tablet device.

Since this facility is now available, we won’t be reprinting the lectionary readings each week here on this page.

Find out more here:
https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer

Holy Week and Easter services 2021

This page provides a summary of all the services and acts of worship taking place in Holy Week and on Easter Sunday here in West Malling and Offham in 2021. The list includes both Public Worship in our church buildings and Online Worship. Where necessary, links to the online material will be added as the week progresses.

Palm Sunday, 28 March

Wednesday of Holy Week, 31 March

  • Service of BCP Holy Communion, St Mary’s, West Malling at 09.30

Maundy Thursday, 1 April

Good Friday, 2 April

Easter Sunday, 21 April, 6.15 am

  • Sunrise Dawn Service, outdoors at St Michael’s Church, Offham at 06.30
  • Online Worship, available from 07:30 onwards
  • Service of Holy Communion, St Michael’s Church, Offham at 09.15
    (Due to Covid-safety guidelines’ reduced capacity, please book in advance to attend).
  • Service of Holy Communion, St Mary’s, West Malling at 10.00

Age, mental health and isolation

In recent days I heard the tragic news that an elderly gentleman in my parish, someone I had the privilege to know, had killed himself.

Having lost his wife some years before and with little family to speak of, when I visited with him he would confide in me that he felt he had nothing left to live for.

While he had a clear Christian faith and understanding of life, he now considered himself nothing more than a burden on the taxpayer, he felt he had lasted too long, outlived those he loved, and, quoting St Paul, he said it would be best to “be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23).

In some ways, I sympathised with the predicament as he saw it. Modern medical science has run faster than our morality or the pace of our culture can maintain. Neither have we always handled deftly the unexpected outcomes of fundamentally good developments like longer life.

Such conversations are not that uncommon for me with very elderly people. But I never anticipated or expected that he was quietly making a plan to die. Given that many people knew him and cared for him, I don’t think anyone else saw it coming either.

I hope this doesn’t feel like I am betraying his confidence in saying this after his death, but when I sat and listened to him, my over-riding impression was that this man felt unbelievably isolated and alone.

He lived with others. There were people around him all the time. He was always happy to strike up a conversation. But nevertheless he felt alone.

Sensing his loneliness, I tried to engage him; the occasional visit, a chat in the churchyard and also writing letters or cards to know he wasn’t forgotten. I tried to invite him to attend various services or events St Mary’s hosted; mostly without success.

One thing I said to him several times was that I believe that we live and breathe and have our being by God’s design. “For such a time as this” are we called (Esther 4:14). So if we are here by God’s design, even if we would rather not be, it must mean the Lord has purposes for each of our lives. What is it he would have us contribute?

I do wish he could have seen that he had a contribution to make; that he wasn’t useless or a burden, and that there were many things that were worth living for.

I know too that, while suicide is not a mental health problem in itself, it is strongly linked with mental distress and 75% of the suicides in the UK last year were men. It seems that we blokes are particularly bad at expressing how we feel or seeking help when we are hurting.

As Easter approaches, I also know that while the night can feel very dark indeed, the sun will come in the morning. The Christian faith is hope made real, hope made flesh.

If you feel that you’ve nothing to live for, or that you are lonely, or that there is no purpose or joy for you in life, please don’t suffer in silence and don’t seek your death. Please come and talk to me or talk to someone you know who will listen carefully to you, phone the Samaritans on 116 123 for free or visit the Samaritans website. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I truly believe God loves you and he has good things for you.

Rev David Green

Holy Week and Easter services 2017

We thought you might like to take note of the Holy Week and Easter events and services taking place in Offham, Kings Hill and West Malling.

Sunday 9 April, Palm Sunday services
in all churches at the usual start times.

Tuesday 11 April, 7.30pm
Stations of the Cross
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Maundy Thursday, 13 April, 7 for 7.30 p.m. start
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
St Lawrence’s Church, Mereworth

Good Friday, 14 April, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Good Friday, 14 April, 10.00 am
Interactive Easter Family Service
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 14 April, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 14 April, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Good Friday, 14 April, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 6.15 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Lent Course 2017

The Lent Course this year will be based around the film “Les Miserables”

Invite your friends to watch the film ahead of the course starting. Each week will focus on one of the characters in the film, and together we will reflect on our own lives as Christians following a calling to be more truly ourselves. In the past years, those attending have found the sessions to be relaxed open spaces, with great opportunities for discussion.

There is a book to accompany the Lent course that will be pre-ordered for you.

If you would like to host a session and have room for around 10 people around a TV (with DVD player), please contact Rev’d Pat Dickin.

Please register your interest with Rev Pat Dickin, Vicar for St Lawrence, Mereworth & St Dunstan, West Peckham.

Precious Easter tears

As I sit down to write this article, I have just completed the journey of Holy Week. Having started with the joyous entry of the King of Kings on Palm Sunday, we’ve descended to the depths on Maundy Thursday and known the desolation of Good Friday and the death of Jesus. Now, in four very different services today, I’ve led God’s people in the celebration of Easter joy.

Maurice Mikkers, tears under a microscopeAs I came home after the last service, my son showed me a picture from his National Geographic: Kids magazine (see picture). Dutch photographer Maurice Mikkers has made a study of what tears look like under a microscope. As they crystallised, imagine his surprise as he discovered that each tear is unique and different. ‘Reflex tears’, for example from chopping onions, look different to ‘basal tears’, for example from a cold wind blowing in your face. Emotional tears and tears of pain look different again.

With the emotions of Good Friday and Easter Sunday fresh in my mind, the photograph showing the amazing delicacy of God’s creation as it is to be found in human beings, has reminded me of a verse from the Psalms:

“You have written down my poem of sadness,
you have put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record, O Lord.” Psalm 56.8

The Easter story is one of great joy and triumph, but it’s a triumph borne out of suffering and brokenness. As I said in my sermon today, we live with that question “what’s wrong with the world?” on a daily basis. Recent events in Belgium and before that in France, ongoing conflict in Syria, our own individual troubles and frailties, stories of abuse and power mis-used, relationships in difficulty and pain in our bodies. It’s all there and tears of all kinds are all too frequently shed.

But the thought that each tear is unique can, perhaps, encourage us. It was for those tears and brokenness that God entered into our world in the person of Jesus. Each tear is gathered into his bottle and not lost. He sees our pain in the broken world we have created for ourselves, and He loves us from all eternity in such a way that it drove him to take action and make that journey from the cross to the empty tomb and beyond.

It means that there are some more words we can say with the Psalmist:

“Those who go out sobbing as they carry seeds to plant
will come back singing. They will come home with shouts of joy.” Psalm 126.5-6

David Green

Holy Week and Easter events 2016

A photo of a chalkboard that reads 'Resurrection is making a comeback'We thought you might like to take note of the Holy Week and Easter events and services taking place in Offham, Kings Hill and West Malling.

Tuesday 22 March, from 12.30pm
Easter Experience
(for children and parents)
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Maundy Thursday, 24 March, 1.30 p.m.
West Malling CEP School End-of-Term Service
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Thursday 24 March, 7.30 p.m.
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
St Lawrence’s Church, Mereworth

Good Friday, 25 March, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Good Friday, 25 March, 9.45 am
Interactive Easter Family Service
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 25 March, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 25 March, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Good Friday, 25 March, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Please remember the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday morning!

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 6.00 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 9.30 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 11.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

The journey that goes via the cross

Within the walls of St Paul’s Cathedral, you will see two large white crosses that, viewed from a distance, seem somewhat uneven. As you move close to them, the reason for their irregular nature becomes clear.

Woven into the arms of the crosses are intricate models of settlements, both contemporary and historical, that have been decimated by conflict. The twin sculptures by London artist Gerry Judah (pictured) sit at the very head of the nave and, at more than six metres high, they are imposing; strikingly so.

The installations portray the brutal realities of war fixed upon an instrument of death. It’s a powerful image and one that reminds me, yet again, that the cross of Jesus is at once both a place of unspeakable brutality and a symbol of life and peace.

Judah’s twin sculptures were installed in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One. But in an attempt to bring the memorials up to date, Judah stuck townscapes, reminiscent of scenes from Syria and Afghanistan, on the cruciforms.

Those in charge of the cathedral have been thrilled with the end result. Canon Mark Oakley said the sculptures “provoke us into interrogating the present world and the landscapes we casually view on the news every day.”

As I write, we are still in the season of Lent but Easter comes early this year and we will soon face, once again, the realities of our Lord’s cross and all that it means for us in being a place of peace and reconciliation, forgiveness, freedom and new hope.

But our thoughts and reflections on the reality of the cross will count little if we leave them stuck two thousand years ago in 1st century Palestine. Like Judah’s crosses, the task each and every year, each and every day, is to re-imagine and re-appropriate the truth of the cross into our world and our own lives.

The empty cross is particularly symbolic of Easter Sunday and Jesus rising from the grave. The cross is empty because Christ is no longer dead but eternally risen.

So often the cross we might find in a church is smooth, plain and unmarked. Sanitised even. But the reality was that the empty cross of Christ would bear the puncture marks of the nails that had been driven through hands and feet into the rough wood. It would be stained by the blood and sweat of its victim. They were crudely and roughly made without much concern for their quality and no concern for comfort.

The Judah sculptures in St Paul’s Cathedral remind us once again that even if the world still hurts and bleeds on a daily basis, the answer to that pain takes its journey to eternal life through the cross, through suffering and death and only then do we reach the hope of new life and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

David Green

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