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My last post was titled ‘Waiting‘, and was posted just over a month ago, on Easter Eve. When I wrote it, we were waiting for Easter Day. I thought I would perhaps have a few days off the discipline of writing six days out of seven, and then return with gusto. Or at least with a few things to say.

I had not factored in toothache in a pandemic.

By the end of Easter weekend I was talking to the emergency dentist and taking ibuprofen and paracetamol every two hours, then I was taking antibiotics. And then it was two trips to the PPE bedecked dentist, and now I am half a molar and a couple of nerves down, and still on a smidge of ibuprofen. And it’ll be a trip to the dental hospital after lockdown. Joy.

Other than toothache we have been managing pretty well the last month. Online services have continued with increasing technical sophistication – homemade music videos – multiple people reciting consecutive verse of a psalm. DVDs have been delivered to the internetless, telephone and Zoom counselling has taken place. The Archdeacon has phoned. The kids have done at least a few minutes of school and uni work. A small amount of gardening has been achieved. And the dust reached such a depth that I even resorted to breaking out a can of furniture polish.

And I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary by having a nerve removed from my tooth. For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in lockdown, in sickness, with toothache and in health, I’m still glad to be the Vicar’s Wife.

 

 

Waiting

On Easter Eve, Christians wait. The Lord has died. And we wait. We wait for the bright dawn of the resurrection. But we know it is coming. We live the right side of the resurrection.

And this Easter Eve there is so much waiting. The whole country is staying at home and waiting. A dear friend from church texts me almost every other day to check how long I think it will be until restrictions are lifted. She is finding the waiting very hard indeed. And waiting without knowing how long it will be is difficult, not knowing how long our lives will be restricted and different.

The first disciples were waiting. Their Lord had been crucified. They had no idea what would happen. Our waiting now gives us a taste of what they experienced. As Gretchen Ronnevik said today:

[Text on grey/orange sunrise] Maybe huddling together as a small group of disciples in a home, wondering what God is doing, and what will happen next, and where do we go from here... is the most Easter-y of all Easter things to do - Gretchen Ronnevik

And so we wait tonight for the resurrection dawn. Not in a small room with the doors locked. We are waiting here, in the Vicarage. We’re waiting in the living room and the kitchen and in the garden, looking over to the church and its clock, running late and still on Greenwich Mean Time. We wait. But we know it is coming. Jesus has risen, as he said.

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The Cross, Quietly

Today we baked. I made sourdough and hot cross buns – two lots because I accidentally made the first batch not vegan. A cross on the bread and crosses on the buns. Crosses for this most holy of days.

As the buns cooled, we held an online Zoom meeting with our dear brothers and sisters from church, meditating together on Jesus’ way to the cross and on his death, led gently by a few different church members. After the quiet of that time together, I went into the garden with my Bible and reread John’s account of the passion.

 

Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’

John 18v37

As this Easter passes, I want to hold onto that challenge from the Lord Jesus – to listen to his voice, to be of the truth, to hold onto the cross.

Tonight we made a rainbow for our rainbow shaped window. This Holy Week is the week we especially remember the hope that we have. We are joining with EasterMeansHope.com to share the hope of Christ with our neighbours.

Paper rainbow and 'EasterMeansHope.com' in arched window

We had the window ready for this evening’s #ClapforOurCarers, and the Joker joined in with extra noise tonight – a rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow on his trombone.

The Joker, wearing black t-shirt and beige shorts, flipflops, plays his trombone outside the Vicarage, using a black music stand.

I’ve seen a few people online commenting that this strange season is subjecting us all to culture shock. So much has changed for everyone – we are all living very different lives to what has been normal for us. Things are so changed for us all. And it reminded me of a post I wrote about moving here to the parish – and some things the Vicar and I learnt when we moved to Kuala Lumpur many years ago.

twintowers

The culture shock I’ve experienced before – moving to different countries and to different cities – has taken much longer to kick in. But I think that being in the same place and yet nothing being the same has compressed the experience. A couple of weeks into lockdown and it no longer feels like a slightly odd holiday. The boys are now fed up of not going to school. And the steep tech learning curve is exhausting, and trying to find new ways of connecting with people isn’t a fun alternative any more, but frustrating and awkward.

So, as in my original reflection on culture shock, I’m reminded that this world is not my home; here I’m a ‘foreigner and exile’ (1 Peter 2:11). Suffering culture shock should make me look to my heavenly home, and focus on the place I really belong. This week we remember those days when the Lord Jesus gave himself for us. He gave up his true home to tread the path to the cross – and on to glory. And so I can stumble along in this strange new world, remembering that whether things are strange or even just ‘normal’ I’m here in exile. My home is now with Christ, because of the cross and the glory he won there for his people.

I didn’t manage to finish a blog last night – the first #lentowrimo post I’ve missed. My brain just wasn’t functioning – the third week of lockdown has felt exhausting and overwhelming. We were meant to be on holiday this week – at Word Alive with thousands of other believers. But here we are, still in the Vicarage and not in glamorous Prestatyn, hearing helpful Bible talks and meeting up with dear friends.

We’re here serving the parish online and over the phone, helping at the foodbank and wrangling Zoom with people who struggle with technology. We’re here following the way of Christ. We’re here, looking to our Lord, who trod the way of the cross, exhausted and overwhelmed. So this Holy Week, I’m hobbling along, aware of my fragility, like the daisies which have bloomed in the Secret Field this week. But the blessing of Holy Week is that it goes through the cross to the resurrection. The perishable becomes imperishable. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the Word of the Lord endures forever.

[Text on yellow disc over picture of white/yellow daisies on green grass] For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures for ever.’

We are approaching a strange and hard Easter. A strange and hard Holy Week. This collect from the Book of Common Prayer is preparing me for that – reminding me of the Father’s tender love, helping me to recall the great humility of the Lord Jesus and challenging me to be patient. These are what I need to meditate on this week. I need to meditate with gratitude on love, humility and patience.

[Black text on yellow starburst, photo of blackthorn blossom behind] ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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