ASK On being at home this Lent….

Vicar's Blog ~ March 24 2020


March 24 2020

My dear friends,

We are united in spirit and connected in prayer. Sadly the church is closed and we are stuck at home, for better or worse. Weddings are cancelled, and the thought of funerals unbearable. Spare a big prayer for David Cater, who sings with our choir frequently, whose dear wife Diane died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday. We also think of Colin, whose hip op is off, and Michael whose knee op seems to be on.

Some of you are getting deliveries of food etc and some are not. Do keep us posted. The problem seems to be that if you have not already registered for them supermarkets are not taking new customers. The ASK force is now a list of folks who have volunteered. Do not worry if you haven’t been asked to do anything yet, we wait in preparedness, knowing our movements are restricted. Rest assured we are targeting requests and helpers, connecting folk. But please do keep me posted on any situation that arises – we can share the load.

A bootload of candles arrived today, with it the Easter Candle 2020 Sticker and lots of Communion Wafers. It brings it home, literally. But rest assured, we will have an Easter Candle and it will be blessed and lit upon Easter Day. I will celebrate Communion on Easter Day with Jessica and Maria and we’ll find a way of including you all. I’m sure Jackie and Mo will do the same, and we will tell you when we are going to do it so you can join in, perhaps with some bread and wine of your own. It won’t be Communion as we know it, but we can be united. On Palm Sunday I will bless palms and leave them outside the Vicarage Door. If you would like one, either go out for a walk and pass by, or tell me and I will pop one through your letterbox…. More nearer the time.

Last year I wrote a Lent book called ‘At Home in Lent’ (perhaps you have a copy)! This year I have completed ‘At Home in Advent’, which will be published in September. Little could I have known how poignant such titles would be. So forgive me for quoting myself from the Introduction to that book, words which may land slightly differently today at this time when we are forced to be ‘at home in Lent’.

“Is your home your spiritual castle? The origins of the proverb ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’ date back to the sixteenth century, when in in 1581 Henri Estienne’s The Stage of Popish Toyes: conteining both tragicall and comicall partes, stated that “youre house is youre Castell.”, and in the same year the headmaster of the Merchant Taylor’s School in London, Richard Mulcaster wrote “He (the householder) is the appointer of his owne circumstance, and his house is his castle.”. Seventy years later the lawyer and politician Sir Edward Coke established the idea as common law in The Institutes of the Laws of England, (1628): “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium (and one’s home is one’s safest refuge).” Another century later and none other than William Pitt the Elder said in parliament: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.” The concept has carried across the seas to other lands too, notably to the USA where in 1800, Joel Chandler Harris adapted the maxim, writing: “Exalt the citizen. As the State is the unit of government he is the unit of the State. Teach him that his home is his castle, and his sovereignty rests beneath his hat.”

Notwithstanding the modern right of the police with warrants and bailiffs with court orders, we do generally believe and behave as though our homes are private and open only to those whom we invite in. In our homes we flee from the presence of all but our nearest and dearest, and although the home can be a place of domestic violence, treachery or strife for a few, it is for many a sanctuary, a safe haven and the place where not only our hearts but our belongings are housed.

….the way we live is a spiritual as well as practical matter, and under God, it is good to reflect on the things we take so much for granted. The Holy Spirit of God is everywhere, and in everything if only we look with the right eyes and a humble frame of mind. In Lent we are called to read and reflect; to be penitent and patient, and to journey towards the renewing light of the Easter Dawn. When Easter comes it is my hope and prayer for you, gentle reader, that the journey around your home will cast Passiontide and Easter in a different hue, and that the Lord will have been with you in everything, and everywhere.”

Holy Communion is not possible – although I hope to have something for you by Easter. Meanwhile, if you are missing communion, here is a prayer that you might find useful:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

And a hymn for us all as we hunker down:

God be with you till we meet again,
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you,
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

2 God be with you till we meet again,’
Neath His wings protecting hide you,
Daily manna still divide you,
God be with you till we meet again. [Refrain]

3 God be with you till we meet again,
When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put His arms unfailing round you,
God be with you till we meet again. [Refrain]

4 God be with you till we meet again,
Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
Smite death’s threatening wave before you,
God be with you till we meet again. [Refrain]

Author: Jeremiah Eames Rankin (1880)

With love to you all,
Gordon, Jessica and Maria