Many of you will have been at High St for the Church Anniversary, and enjoyed the visit of Rev Dave Martin, and his wife Jane, and Jane's sister Jilly, who both grew up here as daughters of the manse. I worked with Dave for two years in Cheadle Hulme as a lay pastoral worker, and on the first morning, Dave asked me to make some visits to Stepping Hill hospital in the afternoon. He warned me that the first person would tell me exactly what she thought. After introducing myself, I stood in front of her a little nervously, Bible in hand. She looked me up and down and said: "Well your hair's very nice, but your Bible is the worse for wear." She was right; it was in a poor state; Hebrews were coming apart at the seams and the cover was almost off. The rest of the visit seemed to go quite well, though and so I went to find the next person. Before I could say anything, she called out:
"You're Mary and you've had a hysterectomy." "No" I said, "I'm Hilary and I haven't had a hysterectomy!" The rest of the visit was fine..
A few days later I visited a couple in their home and on walking into their lounge was horrified to see on television, a plane crashing into a huge skyscraper. I couldn't believe it when they told me it was a deliberate act. We were completely numb and in shock as we watched events unfold, but I was glad we could at least pray and be together..
9/11 changed the world, and I've thought about it again and compared it to this time of pandemic. We don't know when things will start to ease, but undoubtedly there will be huge changes.
Today is Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week. As Jesus entered Jerusalem with a whole crowd of enthusiastic pilgrims waving palm branches and calling out shouts of praise, it was a public act, it was a prophetic act, it was a provocative act, but it was also deeply pastoral. The Good Shepherd wanted to gather up the sheep, and yearned to protect those in Jerusalem like a hen gathering chicks, but most were not willing...
The events of Holy Week and especially Good Friday changed everything most profoundly. I hope we will all have time and opportunity to think and reflect, and to give thanks.