A Message from Bishop Rachel
Passion and compassion in Passiontide
In these days of ‘staying at home’ Bishop Robert and I continue to be inspired by the way people are living Church with such creativity and love, finding different ways of sharing in public prayer and worship at home (noting once again that there is no compulsion for everyone to be streaming); and learning more of what it means to be Christ’s people Sunday through to Saturday. Christ’s love is being proclaimed as people of all ages live out their faith in daily life whether at home, school or in other vital places of work, including our hospitals, prisons and emergency services. We also continue to hear of the ways people are providing pastoral support and shining Christ’s light in our communities through acts of kindness and practical support. Please can I draw your attention to the ‘Feeding the 5,000’ initiative which is happening across large parts of the diocese in conjunction with ‘The Long Table’, and complementing many of the projects which are springing up locally.
In the deepening discovery of what it means to be the Church and participate in the work of the Kingdom of God with compassion, there is the treasure of our own becoming. These days will undoubtedly have places of both pain and joy as well as sadness and laughter, and in it all we need to pay attention to who we are and what we find life-giving as we inhabit a new rhythm to our work, rest, prayer and play.
I was tempted to use the vocabulary of ‘paying attention to what you are passionate about’ but ‘passionate’ is a word that is all too easily used as shorthand for saying we feel strongly about something. In this season of Passiontide it’s good to pause to remember that the root of the word ‘passion’ is in suffering and sacrifice, most supremely shown in Christ’s love for us on the cross.
The headline of ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’ is indeed one we should be living and encouraging others to live with passion and compassion in the coming days. It will involve sacrifice but also enables us to live and speak of the saving acts of God in Jesus Christ as we engage with people in our varied contexts in numerous ways over the coming days.
As always, bishops, archdeacons and diocesan staff are here to support you both practically and pastorally. We might be physically distant but we are walking with you in these days of Passiontide.
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross..’
Hebrews 12:1-2 (Morning Prayer 31 March 2020)