Sunday 13th April is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week—the most important time in the Christian calendar. Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there laid down their cloaks in front of him, and also laid down small branches of trees. The people sang part of Psalm 118: 25–26 – “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord”.
At the beginning of the service the palm crosses will be blessed– set apart as a symbolic reminder to us that Jesus was no earthly king but the KING of Kings.
“Dennis’ Lent lectures on the ‘cross’ have finished and, personally, I found them most helpful. The journey continues next week with three holy week talks on the last words from the cross. These talks, taken by Sheila, Ben and Dennis, begin at 7.00.pm. Do come. The full programme of Easter Services is available on a leaflet at the back of Church. Next week is Easter Sunday and we truly celebrate—please bring cut flowers to help decorate the cross.” Rod
On the 17th April, Church will be open until midnight following the service at 7.30pm, and we need two volunteers per hour slot to help achieve this safely. The church wardens will also be taking their turn for this, but they really do need 2 more people on the premises. There is a sign up form on the back table, if you are able to help. Many thanks.
We have a confirmed date for work to be done behind the servery counter in support of a new Menu which will be launched in May. Some cupboards are to be removed; a new food and drink preparation counter fitted, and equipment added. This means the Coffee Shop will be closed on Tuesday 22nd April for 3 days, re-opening on Friday 25th. At the Annual Parish Meeting on 27 April at 4pm we shall set out the full vision and future plans for this area of the church.
In these photos we see the service of Celebration of the formation of the new Benefice of St Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist, during which the Revd Rod Corke was instituted as Incumbent of the joint benefice.
The new benefice was now not only legally launched but also spiritually.
The service is led by The Bishop of Taunton, The Right Revd Peter Maurice.
Revd Rod Corke makes the Declarations and Oaths of Obedience,
and then he is blessed as the new Incumbent.
The new incumbent, with the new Clergy and Readers’ team, are prayed for.
A churchwarden from each church is presented with a new prayer book.
The new benefice of St Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist
May this marriage prove fruitful and a blessing to Taunton.
“… if I have defrauded anyone of anything …” (v.8) RSV
Zacchaeus, unlike the Prodigal Son, had not squandered his wealth, but had exponentially increased it. To some extent he was like our modern day bankers. His riches came out of the pockets of the people. He was a tax collector on behalf of the Romans, so he was doubly unpopular: i) because he worked for ‘them’, and ii) because he extracted far more tax than he should in order to line his own pockets.
As far as he was concerned he was a highly successful businessman, and yet he was to discover that he had been wasting his life. After his encounter with Jesus he learned the meaning of the proverb: “What does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mark 8:36). He suddenly realised that his life was worthless. All he had achieved was materialistic and selfish.
Jesus had opened his eyes to re-evaluate his accumulation of wealth. He had given nothing away to charitable needs, and much of what he had gained was through defrauding innocent people. He wanted to make amends, to make a clean break and have a new start. He therefore announced (always a good thing, since there is no going back on it!), that “the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” (v.8).
Zacchaeus’ repentance, like all true repentance, is not merely remorse or regret, it is a change of mind. He made restitution where possible, and would live a different life from then on. If we mean business with God, and we feel that we have wasted our lives in materialistic gain (say) then we too will need to repent, reassess our values and start to live differently.
Zacchaeus may have been financially poorer but he was richer within himself. He was alive. He had been “lost” (v.10), but he had now received “salvation” (v.9).
Lord I (and probably others too) had not realised that my life, though prosperous, was selfish. Forgive me and show me what I must do, for your name’s sake. Amen.
1 What did Jesus do and say to thieving traders in the Temple?