Palm Sunday and Holy Week

Palm Sunday 5 April - Good Friday 10 April 2020

Good Friday, 10 April 2020

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Maundy Thursday, 9 April 2020

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The Sermon for Maundy Thursday

by the Revd Canon Dr. Malcolm Grundy

It seems to me that on this Maundy Thursday there are some things that we must remember, some things that we should remember and a few things that we might or might not like to remember.

We might or might not like to remember shared meals – just as the Last Supper was a meal which Jesus shared with his disciples. I can remember some momentous dinner parties, in the 1970’s and 80’s when such things were fashionable. I can remember some enormous party meals which – Wendy mostly – and I put on for deanery clergy and their families so that they could get to know one-another.

And I can remember similar ones as a child when what seemed like very elderly relatives came to stay and enjoy generous meals together – and how on more than one occasion our budgie landed on my uncle’s bald head! After the meal what they really enjoyed, was sitting around an enormous table with all the leaves out, playing cards for pennies using two packs in a game called Queens. Perhaps there are some things I should not remember?

I can also remember being told many times of the popular TV film clip which used to be shown every year in Germany. It was of an old lady alone setting Christmas Dinner places for her deceased or absent family and how compelling this was to all who watched because she then sat down and ate alone. But was she really alone?

The Last Supper by Duccio (1311)

What we should remember to do is take to heart the serious things in today’s bible readings. This Last Supper meal was seen – especially by St John whose account we are following all week – as a Passover Supper where resonances of past deliverances were remembered. God’s protection and promises were made real in symbolic parts of an annually repeated meal. Jane, our last vicar helped us to remember that there was enormous symbolism in the components of that meal.

We must remember that after Jesus had left them the bread and the wine became almost immediately the symbols of the continuing presence of Christ with them. It is how they knew that they were not alone. We have just heard how it was the central and most important community tradition passed on to St Paul.

In this exceptional year what we absolutely must remember is why this Maundy Thursday has its name. “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus’ words, ‘A new commandment I give to you – that you love one-another as I have loved you’.

We must remember also that before the meal Jesus showed servant love by washing the disciples’ feet. In our eventful Church life, I can remember the grace-filled time Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip came to our Bradford Cathedral to distribute the Royal Maundy. This traditional annual ceremony reminds the monarch and us that true leaders are to be the servants of all.

In these days of great distress there is no better time to hear about the astonishing acts of service and self-sacrifice being given by so many to others. This ‘new commandment’ comes to life when we remember with thanksgiving a very special shared meal: when we remember that isolated now as we may be – we are never alone.

Malcolm Grundy

Jesus washing Peter's feet by Ford Madox Brown (1876)

Wednesday in Holy Week, 8 April 2020

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St Olave's Easter Garden
Helen's lovely Easter Garden
Palm Cross

Palm Sunday, 5 April 2020

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