Rev'd Harriet Orridge - Corona Virus and Return to Work

Parish letter:

As I write this we are all beginning three weeks of “Lockdown”.  Last night Boris Johnson announced on TV that we must all stay inside our homes for the next three weeks.  He said that we live in unprecedented times, and indeed we do.  Never has a infection spread across the world  so fast, and never has it threatened so many lives.

But this is not the first time that has been “unprecedented”, indeed roughly 2000 years ago the times were so unprecedented that our entire calendar system changed.  Before then no-one had ever been resurrected, after Jesus death and resurrection all those who trust in him are assured of new life after death.

On 31st July 1941 a prisoner escaped from the Auschwitz Concentration camp and in response the authorities selected ten men to die in the starvation bunker.  One of the men, Francis Gajinisdek, cried, ‘My poor wife and my children. They'll never see me again!’ At that moment, a Polish man—very unimpressive-looking in many ways, with round glasses in wire frames—stepped out, and he said, ‘Look, I’m a Catholic priest. I don’t have a wife and children.’ He said, ‘I want to die instead of that man.’ Fr Maximilian Kolbe followed the other nine into the bunker. Remarkably he got the prisoners praying and singing hymns and transformed the atmosphere in the bunker. Kolbe was the last person to die and after two weeks he was given a lethal injection and died at the age of 47.


38 years ago, Pope John Paul II canonised Fr Maximilian Kolbe saying, ‘Maximilian did not die but gave his life … for his brother.’  Amongst the crowd of 150,000 people, was Francis Gajinisdek.  In March 1995, Francis Gajinisdek died. In his obituary, it said that he spent the rest of his life going around telling people what Maximilian Kolbe had done for him, because he’d died in his place. Francis himself wrote, remembering that moment of exchange with Kolbe in Auschwitz, ’I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me – a stranger. Is this some dream?’

Jesus’ death was even more amazing than this, because He didn’t simply die for one man, but for every individual in the world. If you or I had been the only person in the world, Jesus Christ would still have died in our place. Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

As we live through these unprecedented times, please remember those who are stepping forward to care for us, people they don’t know.  Honour their efforts by abiding by the “Lockdown” rules, so that we can all live.

Prayer in a Time of Disaster

Holy One, you are our comfort and strength

in times of sudden disaster, crisis, or chaos.

Surround us now with your grace and peace

through storm or earthquake, fire or flood.


By your Spirit, lift up those who have fallen,

sustain those who work to rescue or rebuild,

and fill us with the hope of your new creation;

through Jesus Christ, our rock and redeemer.

By the Rev. John G. Hamilton, FPC, Rochelle, Ill.

Letter of Thanks:

Almost six months ago now, whilst at the gym I collapsed and my world fell apart!  Today as I write this, my GP has seen my test results, and said that they are all within normal limits, which I’m sure many of you can appreciate is a massive relief.  I feel like my life has been resurrected!

Can I say a massive thank you to every one, for your prayers, cards, flowers and the book “A man called Ove” which I throughly enjoyed.  They have been a massive comfort and support during what has been a difficult time.  I have been praying (it being one of the few things I could do) for all of you, across the whole group.

I was hoping to be able to lead a group service on Easter Sunday in Long Bennington, but instead I will be leading worship online.  The first of these from Mothering Sunday (and subsequent services) can be found on YouTube “SSC churches” channel.  In addition to regular Sunday services there will special services through Holy Week, further details for which will be published on our Saxonwell Churches Website.  In addition to which Tony Tucker has printed some Morning and Evening prayer booklets, available again online and hopefully in our local shops.  Alternatively, should you wish to receive one, please let Harriet know (01400 281281) and we will get one to you.

Once again a massive thank you for your support and patience, I look forward to seeing and speaking to you all soon.

God bless




10 April - Good Friday:  Jesus and the thieves on the Cross

 Luke’s account of the crucifixion (Luke 23:32-43) emphasises the mocking of the crowd, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself’ (35,37,39). In their view a Messiah does not hang on a cross and suffer. In considering the two men who was crucified with Jesus, we are also confronted with the issue of how Jesus secures salvation for us.


The words of one of those crucified with Jesus reflected the crowd’s taunts: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us.’ He highlights the question of Jesus’ identity: how can He save others, when He cannot save himself from death? He failed to see that the cross itself was the means of salvation.


So - what kind of Messiah was Jesus?

 The other criminal’s response in his last moments is a moving expression of faith. When challenging the other man, he spoke of the utter injustice of the crucifixion: ‘this man has done nothing wrong.’ He perceived the truth that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. In a wonderful picture of grace, ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom’, the second thief confessed his guilt and secured Jesus’ forgiveness and mercy.

In reply, Jesus promised the man life from the moment of death; ‘Today you will be with me in paradise.’ Jesus used the picture of a walled garden to help the man understand his promise of protection and security in God’s love and acceptance eternally.

Each one of us has to choose how we react to Jesus on the cross.  Do we want him to ‘remember’ us when He comes into his kingdom, or not?  If you were to die tonight, how confident would you be of going to be with Jesus?  ‘For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.’ (1 Peter 3:18).

12 April - Easter morning:  the ‘Other’ Mary    

 As the traditional Easter story is rehearsed again this month, you may notice that there is one name that frequently occurs. It is that of the ‘other’ Mary – not the mother of Jesus, but Mary of Magdalene, who stood by her at the cross and became the first human being actually to meet the risen Christ.  

That’s quite a record for a woman who, the Gospels tell us, had been delivered by Jesus from ‘seven devils’ – New Testament language for some dark and horrible affliction of body, mind or spirit.  As a result, her devotion to Him was total and her grief at His death overwhelming.

In church history Mary Magdalene became the ‘fallen woman’ a harlot who was rescued and forgiven by Jesus but there is no evidence to prove she was a ‘fallen woman’ but the contrast is sublime, Mary the virgin mother, the symbol of purity. Mary Magdalene, the scarlet woman who was saved and forgiven, the symbol of redemption. Surely, we all fall somewhere between those two extremes.

The dark cloud from which she was delivered may have been sexual, we are not told. What we do know is that the two Marys stood together at the cross, the Blessed Virgin and the woman rescued from who knows what darkness and despair.

The second great moment for her was as unexpected as it was momentous. She had gone with other women to the tomb of Jesus and found it empty. An angelic figure told them that Jesus was not there, He had risen – and the others drifted off. But Mary stayed, reluctant to leave it like that. She became aware of a man nearby, whom she took to be the gardener. She explained to Him that the body of ‘her Lord’ had been taken away and she didn’t know where to find Him.  

The man simply said her name ‘Mary’ and she instantly realised it was Jesus. She made to hug Him, but He told her not to touch Him because his resurrection was not yet complete. She was, however, to go to the male disciples and tell them she had met Him. She did – but they couldn’t believe her.

Her words – ‘I have seen the Lord’ – echo down the centuries, the very beating heart of the Christian gospel.


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