As we approach the end of Lent you will notice that the crucifixes and statues in church are covered with a purple veil and that the altar piece behind the High Altar is also covered. We do this every year. It’s an old custom to veil these things from the fifth Sunday in Lent till the end of Good Friday, a period of time we refer to as Passiontide. The veiling of images reminds us that our faith is only made possible through the work of Christ in his obedience, his suffering and his death. It marks the solemnity of the season and contrasts with the joy of Easter. For those of you who come to the Easter Vigil – it would be good to see more of you at this most important service of the Church’s year – you will see the purple veil covering the altar piece falling away dramatically with the introduction of the Gloria. Christ can no longer be held back, he has metaphorically burst from the grave, death has no more dominion over him.
If you would like to read at any of the services during Holy Week please sign the sheet at the back of church and take a copy of your reading.
Last Thursday I attended what is officially called The Ceremony of Confirmation of the Election of the Right Reverend Dame Sarah Elisabeth Mullally DBE as Bishop of London. The conclusion of this event marked the moment at which the legal functions of the office became vested in our new bishop, although she will not be installed in St Paul’s Cathedral until May 12th. In the meantime she still has some remaining commitments as Bishop of Crediton. This ceremony was an act of worship, which took place at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. It comprised hymns, prayers, reading and a brief homily, interspersed with several stages in the legal proceedings necessary for this confirmation of election. These stages involved the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop-Elect, the Dean of St Paul’s and several lawyers in full regalia. The wording used in this confirmation has a long history. Before the eighteenth century it was in Latin, but in about 1733 an English translation was introduced. Today a somewhat modernised version in used, although its origins in mediaeval canon law remain evident. The service was in some ways a very low-key, albeit historic, event but it was a great privilege to have witnessed it. The installation on May 12th will be a much more high-profile occasion and we continue to pray for Bishop Sarah as she prepares to move to London.
With every blessing