As we approach Holy Week, we come to what have been called the ‘Three Great Days’ that
are at the heart of Christian life and worship. These Three Days are: Maundy Thursday,
Good Friday and Easter Day.

On
Maundy Thursday we celebrate the Eucharist, a meal that points us to the past and to
the future.

It reminds us that Jesus welcomed the outcast, the forgotten and those who are usually left
behind to His table. He was known for eating with those that the religious leaders called
‘sinners.’ On Maundy Thursday and every time we share the Eucharist we remember that
no one is excluded from Jesus’ table. All are welcome. We are welcome.

Maundy Thursday also points us to the future. It reminds us that one of Jesus’ favourite
images of the Kingdom of God is a feast. It tells us that we are invited to the great banquet in
God’s Kingdom. Of course, a tiny wafer of bread and a sip of wine are not anyone’s idea of a
great feast. They are merely a pointer, a signpost, a promise. Every time I share in the bread
and wine at communion, but especially on Maundy Thursday, it reminds me that heaven is
as far beyond my hopes and expectations as a rich feast is beyond the wafer and the sip of
wine that we share. Maundy Thursday is a sign of the hope and promise of the kingdom of
God.

On
Good Friday we focus our attention on Jesus’ cross. That Cross tells us of the love of God
for us and for the creation. It tells us how deeply we are loved, what we are worth to God. It
has been said that you only know the value of a thing when you see how much someone will
pay for it. On the Cross God incarnate pays for us with His life, and God the Father pays the
cost of allowing His beloved Son to die for us. Thai is what we are worth to God.

The Cross speaks not only of the immense love of God; it also tells us how lost we were. If
this is the cost of our salvation, then our situation is far worse than we can know.

School children often ask me why we call the day on which Jesus died
Good Friday. The
answer is simple. It is Good Friday because it is the day that the lost are found, the broken
healed, the sinful forgiven. It is the defeat of death once and for all. Our hope is in the love of
God, and that is seen most clearly in the Cross of Christ.

Easter Day is the day of the victory of life and love over death and evil. Easter has been
called the start of a whole new world, because Easter and the empty tomb do not fit into any
existing world-view.

John, in his Gospel, tells the story of the resurrection in ways that recall the story of Adam
and Eve. It is set in a garden early on the first day of the week. Instead of Adam and Eve we
find Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Instead of the defeat of the Fall, rooted in our rebellion
against God, there is the victory of Jesus who was a faithful Son of God. One figure though is
missing from the garden on Easter Day: the serpent; because on the Cross the serpent has
been defeated once and for all.

John tells the story of Easter in this way because for all who come to faith in the risen Lord
Jesus, it is the start of a new life. It is hope breaking into the despair of the world. It is the
promise that death is a defeated enemy.

Easter is the victory of the risen Christ, and He calls us to follow Him, to live in this world as
a people who live the Easter hope and victory every day of our lives. And Jesus reminds us
that this hope is given not only for ourselves, but also for those who have no hope.

May the risen Christ fill you with the peace and the joy of His resurrection as we celebrate
these Three Great Days once again, and as we are reminded of the great gift that is ours in
Christ.
Tim.
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Prayer for the month
Thought for the month
Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words...,  A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
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“Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”

The traditional Easter greeting is usually seen as an acclamation, a triumphant cry of victory
and praise. And although it certainly is a cry of victory of life over death; of hope over
despair, of the light of Christ over the forces of chaos, it is also, I believe a prayer.

We live and worship in a world in which Christ has come, in which Christ has triumphed;
and yet, evil still destroys many, many lives. If Easter is the victory of God over evil and
chaos, then why is evil still such a force in our world?

We live between the times; between the victory of Christ on that first Easter, and the coming
of God’s kingdom healing our world and our lives. Easter tells us that evil has been defeated,
but until God’s kingdom finally comes in all its fulness, evil is still active and powerful in the
world and in our lives.

Someone once described our situation by using the analogy of the Second World War.
Easter is a bit like D Day. Once a bridgehead had been established for the allied forces,
victory was assured, and so in one sense you could say that the Third Reich was finished on
that day. And yet it took many months of fighting and struggle until VE Day.

We live between the times; between the establishment of God’s kingdom when Christ
defeated death and hell once and for all on the Cross and by the empty tomb, and the
fulfilment of the kingdom, when every broken heart will be healed and every tear wiped
away.

And so, until God’s kingdom comes we live in the hope of the victory of Easter in a world
which too often feels more like ‘Good Friday’, a day of crucifixion. To be a Christian, to
follow Jesus is to be a person of hope. And this hope is expressed in the great Easter
acclamation. When we proclaim that Christ is “risen indeed” we commit ourselves to live in
the hope of Easter and the Resurrection, and we pray that Christ’s victory will bring healing
to our world.

For as the great Fourth century Bishop and theologian Saint Augustine wrote: “We are an
Easter people, and ‘Alleluia!’ is our song.”

God bless and a very happy Easter,
Tim
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  • Bishops Letter - Update on the work of the task and finish group - Posted by
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  • First Words, Prayer for the Month and Thought for the Month have been
    updated for April 2019- see below

    The oldest issue available is February 2011.

  • We have added a New Burial Records Page  covering over 6000 individuals
    interred in the St Mary's Section of Ecclesfield Cemetery from 1875 onwards

  • Listen again to recently recorded Sunday Sermons -  Listen Again

  • Don't forget to check the Weekly Notices page for service times and the
    latest news.

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Quick Links
This year Holy week falls in April, and most of the activities in Church are related to this, the
central festival of the Christian year.

On
Monday 1st April 7.30pm we have our PCC Meeting (some have wondered if the
date is significant!) to prepare for the AGM.

The
Lent Group continues on Wednesdays at 7.30pm. You are welcome to come along
even if you have not managed to get to any of the earlier ones.

On
Saturday 13th April at 9am it is the monthly Prayer Breakfast.

Holy Week
begins on Palm Sunday, 14th April. After the 10am Service of the Word there
will be
Children’s Crafts from 11.30 -12.30.

On
Monday 15th we are invited to the Chrism Service at the Cathedral at 7pm.

On
Tuesday 16th at 7.30pm we have a short service of Compline with a short ‘Holy
Week’ reflection.

On Wednesday 17th at 7.30pm we have the last meeting of the Lent Course followed by
Compline.

On
Maundy Thursday at 7.30pm we celebrate Jesus’ Last Supper, followed by a prayer
vigil until 9pm.

On
Good Friday there is All Age worship at 10am followed by hot Cross buns!
And from
12 noon until 3pm we have the ‘Three Hours at The Cross’ service. There will
be a reading, a reflection and hymn every half hour. Please try to enter or leave Church just
before the half hour.

We will be creating our
Easter Garden at the back of church on Saturday, 20th April at
10.00am
. All are welcome, especially children, to join in and help. If you wish to contribute,
greenery and potted plants will be gratefully received.

On E
aster Day, Sunday 21st April, we rejoice to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

On
Sunday 28th April we will hold our Annual General Meeting after the 10am service.
We need to elect a Church Warden and 3 PCC Members. Please pray about these positions.
Later that day at 5pm there is the Youth Fellowship followed by Prayer & Praise at 6.30pm.

God bless
Tim
Twitter - keep in touch with Tim Gill @RevTimGill
The Knave and South Aisle roof works are now complete
Our Thanks to all those involved in the works and
particularly to the Heritage Lottery Fund and its
supporters for their generous contribution.
Thanks also to Ecclesfield Feoffees for their contribution to
the work done on the North Aisle roof
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    A prayer for St Mary's for 2019

Heavenly Father,
Your son Jesus Christ has called us into His Church here at St Mary's.
Pour out upon us your Holy Spirit:
that we may worship you with all our hearts and minds;
that we may love one another as Christ has loved us;
and that we may be fruitful in your service.
Help us to grow as a Church in faith, in hope and in love;
and add to our number those whom you are calling,
that as a bigger Church we may do bigger work for your glory.
Amen
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