6 April 2020


Thought for the Week

The school holidays started this morning, but of course for most families there won’t be much difference as the children are doing ‘school at home’ anyway!  None of us, of course, will be able to share Holy Week and Easter in the way we’re used to, with all the different services, with the colour and ritual, processions and reflections, music which is poignant or glorious, the simple bamboo decorations of the garden on Maundy Thursday or the fragrant flowers on Easter Day.  What a wrench this is for us all.  But, as Her Majesty The Queen reminded us last night in only the fifth special broadcast of Her long reign, ‘the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve, and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country.’  We’re being called, hard as it is, to patiently endure these difficult days so that we may help and protect each other.  Of course, as Christians we can also draw comfort that – even though we can’t mark it in the usual way – this Week reminds us that in Jesus’s life and death God comes and shares with us all our human failure, anxiety, and pain.  There’s much we can do at home to deepen our understanding of the great Holy Week story, and trying to read the vital chapters in each Gospel (Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 13 and 18-20) would be a wonderful way to start.  There will also be online material so that many of us will be able to share some of the key prayers and readings of the Week.  Prevented from sharing it together in church, we might nonetheless still grow as we read and pray, together in spirit even if not for the moment in person.


Worshipping and Praying at Home


Our website www.earleystpeters.org.uk/resources/ contains ways to pray at home and links to live-streams of services as well as radio and television worship.  Do also keep checking on our Facebook page and YouTube channel for regular reflections and worship.  Do ‘subscribe’ to our YouTube channel – it doesn’t cost anything but if we can reach 100 subscribers we get a bonus and more people will see our videos!

Philip led Sermon and Prayers for Palm Sunday which is available here and here.

Hannah’s midweek reflection is available here and here.


Holy Week for Children and Families


Please do pray particularly for our church’s children and those who are unexpectedly caring for and teaching them at home, as well as those children of key workers still at school.

  • If your young ones come to Bread and Wine / Tots and Teddies / Children’s Church / Xplore@4 please join the ‘Earley St Peter’s Church Families and Children’ group on Facebook, where there is a chance to share information, ideas, and keep in touch about how we’re getting on.
  • Our Tots and Teddies takes place live on our Facebook page at 10.15am on Wednesdays.
  • Good Friday: there will be an all-age service live on our Facebook page at 11am. Do join us as we remember the story of Holy Week together.
  • Easter Day: there will be an all-age service live on our Facebook page at 10am. A chance to celebrate the risen Jesus together.


Holy Week Resources Online


For Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week, we are grateful to Clive Tillin for recording two short meditations.  The first of these is online here and here.  We hope that we will also have a reflection from another member of the Ministry Team online for Maundy Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, 8th April, at 8pm, we will live-stream Compline (Night Prayer) which will, technology permitting, include a recording of our choir singing the Compline hymn.  You can join that via Facebook (you don’t need to be signed up to Facebook to watch), and it will go up on Facebook and YouTube for you to watch again shortly afterwards.  This won’t be specific to a particular day so you can watch it again any evening, and we’ll use the simple order of service here.  The service sheet was also sent by post to everyone we know isn’t on email, so whether or not you are able to watch online you can still join in praying together at that time.

A new Prayers and Sermon will be posted online for each of Good Friday, Easter Eve, and Easter Day.


Pastoral Care


Thank you to our team of pastoral phone callers who are ringing every household on the Parish Register about once a week.  This system is now up and running but please do be in touch with the Parish Office on 0118 966 8575 or email admin@earleystpeters.org.uk if you receive a call but would rather not, or don’t receive one but would like to!


 Quote of the Week


Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,

The seething holy city of my heart,

The Saviour comes. But will I welcome him?

From ‘Palm Sunday’ in Sounding the Seasons, by Malcolm Guite, CanterburyPress 2012. 

More of Malcolm’s poetry is online at https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/.


Prayer for the Week


Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast won for me,
for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may I know thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly: day by day.  Amen.

A Prayer of St Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)

 As it’s Easter Week there won’t be a weekly email next week, so look out for the next one on Monday 20 April.  This comes with our prayers and best wishes for this Holy Week and Easter.

Hannah & Philip

The Reverends Hannah and Philip Hobday, parish priests

admin@earleystpeters.org.uk, 0118 966 8575

If you would prefer not to receive our weekly update, please click here.


Elaine’s Reflection for the start of Holy Week


We have arrived at Palm Sunday and Holy week…………this year it has come very quietly, one day being very much like every other! On Sunday we would have been looking at the weather for the Procession of Palms………it was a lovely day…….but no! We couldn’t process…….or even meet together because we were in lockdown!

Palm Sunday stands at the start of the week that changed the world! (David Winter wrote this in 1994 in his book “What’s in a word?”).  It is the day when we remember that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey five days before he was crucified.

The prophet from Nazareth riding on a donkey down the slopes of the Mount of Olives was welcomed into Jerusalem by his followers.

This year we are following the account in Matthew’s Gospel

In all four Gospels about one third of each is taken up with the events of the last week of Jesus’ life before he is crucified, but in Matthew’s account Jesus tells his disciples to go on ahead and borrow not one but two animals…. “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 must have been a prior arrangement, but nothing else is known. Matthew is the only one of the four gospel writers to write about two animals, a colt and a donkey, this is probably because he was primarily writing for the Jewish people and wanted to show that the prophesy in Zechariah 9, 9 had been fulfilled….  ” Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”……….and Matthew 21; 4 & 5” 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”

It was common for victorious Roman Generals to ride into a city on a horse leading a procession and proclaiming their victories; the crowd who had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover thought that this was what Jesus was doing ………they saw him as a conquering hero……….their promised Messiah

“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches 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.’”(Matthew 21; 8 – 11)

There were crowds of people in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover…….. they thought that their Messiah had come. …….the one promised in the OT………..someone to lead them in battle against the oppressive Romans………. this is what they thought was happening when they accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem…….but Jesus was not who or what they thought………he came riding on a donkey…..he was presenting himself as a humble servant……….Jesus didn’t come to fight with sword and spear……….. the crowd was disappointed. He came in peace……..what a letdown! ……and the crowd that had welcomed him into Jerusalem laying down their coats and waving the palm leaves lost interest and melted away.


Now we come to Holy Week and to John’s Gospel.

It is in this last week that Jesus, knowing what is to happen, needs his disciples to understand what it all means and for  his followers to be united and to believe in him……..but the cracks, plots and opposition begin to show up and just when Jesus most needed everyone to work together things began to fall apart.

First, we go back a day from Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem, to the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus (who Jesus had recently raised from the dead) where they were having supper, but there is bickering about the nard that Mary had used to anoint Jesus’ feet, it was expensive and Judas Iscariot was the main protagonist, complaining about its cost……… Jesus, aware of his fate accepts this act as his anointing for his burial confirming his destiny and speaks of his death telling the parable about the grain of wheat, but his disciples can’t understand and didn’t know where these events were leading. The visit of “some Greeks” (John 12; 20) may have given some hope that even if his own people, the Jews reject him perhaps the Gentiles might listen…… but it is a faint hope.  Meanwhile the chief priests were angry and plotting the death of both Lazarus and Jesus………Lazarus because his raising to life caused many Jews to believe in Jesus……… and Jesus because of his popularity.

The people who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as the Messiah…….the person who was going to free them from the oppression of the Romans discarded him………..they were disappointed that he wasn’t the person they thought he was………the crowd who were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” on Palm Sunday turned against him and by Good Friday they were shouting “crucify him”.

How true that is in our time……..with us………we put all sorts of people on pedestals………..celebrities of one sort or another…….actors, actresses, singers, film stars, film directors, sportsmen and women, politicians ……. the list is endless……….but as soon as they do something wrong……. take drugs, cheat, abuse others etc or disappoint us because they’re not doing what we think they should do………. we decide to reject them!

But there is a difference………Jesus did no wrong, he doesn’t disappoint us, he didn’t want celebrity, he came in love and humility wanting us to live in love and peace with each other……….we often disappoint him by being selfish, greedy and not thinking of others, but he still loves us and gave his life so that God might forgive our sins.

These are uncertain times, let us show Jesus’ love in all that we say and do and remember that he came in great humility and died that we might be saved.