Newsletter St Mary’s & St Augustine’s: Sunday 5th April Palm Sunday


Sunday’s bible readings: Psalm 118 verses 1-2 & 19-end. Matthew 21: 1-11

You may also like to read the whole Passion narrative Matthew 26 to Matthew 27:56

Wednesday’s bible readings: Psalm 70; Isaiah 50. 4-9a


All Glory, Laud and Honour

Great  is Thy Faithfulness


Oh where are you going

And can I come with you,

And what is your method

For keeping alive:

No pack or possessions,

No clothing or shelter,

No food to sustain you –

How can you survive?

(John Bell & Graham Mule)



A reflection for Palm Sunday (from Bishop Richard, who was due to lead our Palm Sunday service)


Today we shall not be processing. I have never been sure how triumphal a procession we have sought to re-create in our liturgy. Whatever the intention, our participation in it has struck me as uncertain, hesitant and awkward. Well we are spared that. For this will be a Holy Week like none other. An even greater uncertainty has taken over our lives filling our public spaces with an eerie emptiness. We feel our fragility and our vulnerability.


As we journey this week towards the cross to see a vulnerable Christ exposed before us, we could perhaps dwell on our own vulnerability. Much of our lives are constructed to provide us with schedules and projects, habits and distractions, that allow us to feel powerful and immune from the reality of our world.


Perhaps we might reflect that we are, after all, not self-sufficient. But we have hope. As we gaze upon the cross, we may recall that Jesus, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, was lifted up that he might draw us to himself. This year, especially this year, may we walk in the way of the Cross and be ready to declare the love God has for our desperate world.


And to take us to Easter, a prayer poem by Alan Amos:


A Locked Church


Ah my dear Lord, the church is locked

but let my heart be open to your presence;

there let it make, you and I,

your Easter garden;

plant it with flowers,

and let the heavy stone be rolled away.  



Reflection for Palm Sunday (from Claire, Priest in Charge)


“How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Mat 23.37)


In these strange times that were are experiencing I am noticing that my senses are more aware. I am noticing things, seeing and hearing things slightly differently. This morning it was the sound of the robin singing full throttle from his branch on the thorn bush in my back garden, next to the yellow forsythia. Was it a song of joy or a song of lament? It touched me and moved me and in the robin’s song I was able to hear my own song reflected back to me in the joy of creation. It was not a sentimental joy but a deeper more profound joy that came out of a place of lament. God somehow reaching into the abyss and instead of fear and mourning I was recognising joy and new life.


Spring is all around us, daffodils blooming, the night is being pushed back and the sun lengthens her hours and stretches the day. And yet also, the clouds are gathering, there is a smell of death in the air. The social and psychological impact of being in ‘lockdown’ makes us feel prisoners within our own homes. We cry as the palmist: “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign a land?” (Psalm 137. 4). We are in a wilderness experience; some have called it a ‘prolonged Holy Saturday’: all of what grounds us has been stripped away. We will need to dig deep spiritually and psychologically over this barren season in order to find the resources for living than can sustain us through until the season changes.


As Jesus approached Jerusalem he set his face like flint in a resolve to face what was to befall him (Luke 9:51/Isaiah 50:6-7). Flint is a very hard type of sedimentary rock, when struck against steel it will produce sparks to light a fire. Setting once face like flint implies that we are expecting some opposition some form of challenge. If we follow this analogy through it was Jesus’s challenge on the cross and his suffering that was the necessary path to lead us to hope and new life. We will need to find this same degree of flint like courage and steely determination to see us through these difficult times.


Palm Sunday this year is not celebrated in our churches; we have no palm crosses to mark this important day in the Christian calendar. Instead, in solidarity with those living in desperate and alien circumstances throughout the world we can feel a sense of connection with their pain, alienation and suffering because we are suffering too! Our loss of liberty is temporary but for many throughout the world their loss and woundedness has no resolve or remedy.


The robin in my garden sang perched on a thorn bush, next to yellow forsythia:  the sorrow and the joy. The words of “Hosanna” resounding as on the same lips shouts of “Crucify” can be heard. We know the way of the cross is costly; this Easter we are living out this cost in our own lives and experiences. Jesus tenderly wants to gather us up under his arms as a mother hen would gather and protect her brood. My prayer for us and our Church is that, in these difficult times of adversity, we may find a deeper and more liberating faith that can authentically witness to the terrors of life and find that it is in our weakness and human vulnerability that a more compassionate way of living and loving can emerge. If we can learn from the robin and creation we may find our tears give way to a lasting joy. “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment; his favour is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:4-5)


Prayer for a pandemic


May we who are merely inconvenienced

remember those whose lives are at risk.

May we who have no risk factors

remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close

remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips

remember those that have no place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market

remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other

Let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.


(Thank you to Martin Tozer-Loft for forwarding this)


Prayer for Palm Sunday

True and humble King,

Hailed by the crowds 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.


Sometimes they strew his way,

And his sweet praises sing:

Resounding all the day

Hosannas to their King;

Then ‘Crucify’ is all their breath,

And for his death they thirst and cry.

(My Song is Love Unknown: John Ireland)


This year we cannot distribute palm crosses … so maybe make your own and display it in your window to mark the beginning of Holy Week … you can make it out or paper/card or anything else you can find.



Children’s activity packs and colouring page can be accessed here -

They also have excellent resources for adults - and for this coming week they have produced a set of striking pictures by Ethiopian artist Nebiyu Assefa tell the story of Jesus’ Passion in a distinctive and moving way. There are seven pictures, each presented with resources to help you study the picture - there is an adult version and a child friendly version.


Home Act of Worship Sunday Morning


Preparation: O Lord, open our lips; and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.


Hymn Verse: Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;

There is no shadow of turning with thee,

Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not,

As thou has been, thou forever will be.

 Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed thy hand hath provided,

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!


A Prayer of Confession

God of life, do not darken your light to us,

God of life do not limit your joy in us,

God of life, do not shut your door to us,

God of life, do not refuse us your mercy,

Lord, do not refuse us your mercy.

Let us pray …

O God of life, eternity cannot hold you,

Nor can our little words catch the magnificence of your kindness.

Yet in the small space of our hearts and in silence

You can come close and repair us.

 Silence is kept …

O God of life, grant us your forgiveness

For our careless thoughts, for our thoughtless deeds

For our empty speech and the words with which we wounded.

 Silence is kept …

O God of life, grant us your forgiveness

For our false desires, for our hateful actions,

For our wastefulness and for all we left untended.

 Silence is kept …

O loving Christ,

Hanged on a tree yet risen in the morning,

Scatter the sin from our souls as the mist from the hills;

Begin what we do, inform what we say, redeem who we are.

  In you we place our hope,

  Our great hope, our living hope,

This day and evermore. Amen


Psalm of the day: see notice sheet

Reading for the day: see notice sheet


Pause for self-reflection or conversation with those in your household.



Jesus, Saviour, man of sorrow and acquainted with grief,

We come to you; for you alone can make us whole.


Jesus, Saviour, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities,

We pray for ourselves and the concerns we carry …

We come to you; for you alone can make us whole.


Jesus, Saviour, we come as church broken by fractions, weak in mission and wavering in our faith.

We pray for our own church community and the wider Church …

We come to you; for you alone can make us whole.


Jesus, Saviour, we come as people of the world, torn by war, ruined by greed, spoilt by selfishness.

We pray for peoples and countries throughout the world …

We come to you; for you alone can make us whole.


Jesus, Saviour, we come as members of a family, insensitive to each other, blind to tears and deaf to cries.

We pray for those we love and who we are separated from at this time …

We come to you; for you alone can make us whole.


Jesus, Saviour, we come with the sick at heart, we come with the ill in mind, we come with the diseased in body.

We pray for all those we know in need at this time and all health care workers …

We come to you; for you alone can make us whole.


Our Father in heaven …


Prayer of St Columba

Be a bright flame before me,

A guiding star above me.

Be a smooth path below me,

a kindly shepherd behind me,

Today, tonight and for ever.



The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil, and keep us in eternal life. Amen.


Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God!



Home Act of Worship Wednesday Evening


Opening Sentence: And now I bend the knee of my heart, imploring you for your kindness.


Hymn Verse: Take up thy cross! Let not its weight

Fill thy weak spirit with alarm:

His strength shall bear thy spirit up,

And brace thy heart, and nerve thine arm.


Silence is kept …


Psalm of the day: (For Wed 25th March Psalm 39 – for future weeks please see Sunday notice sheet for psalm and bible reading)

Reading for the day: Isaiah 52: 1-12


Pause for self-reflection or conversation with those in your household.



O Lord, do not forsake me;

Be not far from me, O God.

O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.


Make haste to help me,

O God of my salvation,

Be not far from me, O my God.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son,

And to the Holy Spirit.

O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.


Prayers of concern


Let us keep silence before God,

And through our minds and imaginations

Offer prayers which words might not contain.


Let us pray.


There is a time for every purpose under heaven.

A time for gratitude …





A time for what we have had to lay down …


A time for what we have had to pick up and face this day …


A time for recognizing what we hope for …


In our time and in your time,

God fulfill our prayers

And let your kingdom come.


Our Father in heaven

Hallowed be your name

Your kingdom come

Your will be done

On earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

As we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

And the glory are yours now and forever.



Closing Sentences:

From the fear that holds me rigid

God of gentleness, ease me forward.

In my fear of surrender,

God of warmth, melt the ice around my heart.

From my fear of making decisions,

God of power, release me.

In my fear of losing respect,

God of courage, steady me.

In my fear of facing my fear,

God of laughter, loosen me.

But in the fear that marks your presence,

God of love, keep me in awe and wonder.



The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

And the love of God,

And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,

Be with us all evermore. Amen.


Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God!