Christ’s Entry into Brussels – James Ensor 1889

Nearly two weeks into closed churches + restricted social distancing and, far from things slowing down, church life actually feels rather busy…

It’s been great to hear how so many have accepted the invitation to stay together by praying together. Every day, at 12noon, we invite you to pause and offer The Lord’s Prayer – such a simple thing to do but it is the prayer Jesus taught us to say – Our Father…

Our two recommended prayer links are:

LECTIO 365 : https://www.24-7prayer.com/dailydevotional

SACRED SPACE : https://www.sacredspace.ie/daily-prayer

Thank you for sharing in the Sofa Service – 540 views and counting! Let’s join together again this Sunday at 10am using the same link: Harbour Churches Sofa Service

As we enter into HOLY WEEK we will be marking Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with a Sofa Service. Revd. Sarah invites us to join her at 7pm this coming Thursday and Susan, our Reader, will be hosting a Good Friday Meditation at 2pm. We’ll send out the links to those services early next week. Alistair, our Church Mission Worker, is also blessing us with a YouTube offering for children and young people – already with 190+ views. You can link into it here:   Alistair’s All Age Service. And if your nerves can take anymore arts ‘n crafts with the kids, then you could have a go at making your own Palm Crosses – see the link!!! 

Why not post your efforts on our Facebook page which will also update you on all that’s going on – please like it if you do! Harbour Churches – West Wittering, Birdham and Itchenor

During this time, we will be sending out the newsletter throughout the week with info and updates. We’ve had nearly 40 new folk sign up for the newsletter so please do encourage friends and neighbours to sign up. Contact Clare for ‘how to’: wwbi.parishoffice@gmail.com or visit the website www.chichesterharbourchurches.org and subscribe from the welcome page.

Helping Hands is well supported and as need increases (which we believe it will) it is going to prove an invaluable support and blessing. The Ministry Team have faithfully been contacting members of the church family for a chat and catch up. If you haven’t had a call then do call us 😊! And an urgent plea from our friends at the Chichester Foodbank – please do keep donating when and where you can. So – we really are keeping quite busy…

The picture above – Christ’s Entry into Brussels – is all about busy and how through it we can lose our way but lose sight of who and what really matters. It’s a parody of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem which we celebrate on Palm Sunday. What I find so telling is that in all that is going on – in the hurly-burly of the crowd – you really have to search to find where Jesus is…

For the artist James Ensor, it was also a powerful commentary on the times in which he lived and the growing political and social upheavals. Ensor’s crowed is more a mob, threatening to trample the viewer – a crude, ugly, chaotic, dehumanized sea of masks, frauds, clowns, and caricatures. The haloed Christ is at the centre of the turbulence seemingly mostly ignored, a precarious, isolated visionary amidst the hurly-burly of the time. For Ensor, Christ functions as a political spokesman for the poor and oppressed – a humble leader of the true religion, in opposition to all that is false and misleading in the chaos of his time. Mercifully, despite all that we are having to face and the pressure on our political leaders and society more widely, so far our society is not only functioning well, but is discovering new and life giving ways to continue with daily life.

Nevertheless, in Ensor’s picture Christ seems lost – certainly lost to the crowd who, despite having gathered to cheer him on with their ‘Hosannas’, have actually lost sight of just who he is. This true and humble King, riding on a donkey will, over time and eternity, turn the world upside down as he brings about the greatest kingdom of all…a kingdom of justice, mercy and peace. Some of us are already looking forward with hope to those things of God’s kingdom that will be ‘enthroned’ when this present time has past… ‘Hosanna!’

In all our activity, it is my hope and prayer that we will not get lost in all the busy-ness or worse, the self-congratulatory triumph of having so many ‘likes’. What we are doing is seeking to make Christ known and to reach out with his healing and life giving love. To do that we must continue to keep Christ ‘in the picture’ of all that we about during these difficult times.

In the Palm Sunday collect, we even go even beyond that… We prayer that we may be found beside him. Here is a radical equality – an invitation to participate in his kingship! Reflect on just what that means for you… Jesus is the one who is ministering to meet our present needs. Jesus is the one who welcomes us to join in with him for the sake of those for whom he walked the way of the cross – the way to life and life in all its fullness.

Gathering up all those who have asked our prayers – Claire, Derrick, Clive, and Sandra and those who have died, praying for Piers de Berniere-Smart, Pam Gibson and Felix Boyse (Priest) and the particular needs of this time we pray:

True and humble king,
hailed by the crowd as Messiah:
grant us the faith to know you and love you,
that we may be found beside you
on the way of the cross,
which is the path of glory.
Amen.

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Assuring you of my prayer and trusting to yours,

Jonathan
Rector

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