by ben last modified 27 Mar, 2020 08:22 PM

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam

To all clergy who are licensed or hold PtO and LLMs

Dear sisters and brothers


This weekend the focus of Lent moves from the desert to the cross as we enter Passiontide. This is a season in which God meets our needs but there is no doubt it is demanding. Thanks for all you are doing for the people in your care. It is encouraging to see how Churches are seeking to live out our calling in such strange circumstances. We are likely to be here for some time so please take good care of yourself as well as of others. You might find these resources valuable.

Crucifixion 8 - photo by Ash Mills

Craigie Aitchison ‘Crucifixion 8’ from the Celebrating 800 years of Spirit & Endeavour exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral, curated by Jacquiline Creswell. © Piano Nobile Gallery. Photographer Ash Mills.

Our church buildings are closed, including the cathedral where an art exhibition was being set up as one of the ways to mark the 800th anniversary of its foundation. This painting by Craigie Aitchison is in a chapel in the south transept. As you can’t visit to see it, I thought we could send it to you to help us meditate on the cross in the coming weeks. I love the birds on the arms of the crucified Christ. Not flesh eating but colourful and a hope of resurrection. In the clarity of the air this silent Spring, the bird song stands out.

We have begun to settle into the new realities of life. Even so, every day brings something new that makes us question and review what we are doing in response to the pandemic. After consultation with diocesan bishops, the Archbishops have issued a further letter which I am forwarding to you. They are reinforcing what has been said before. The priority is for people to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

We know this is tough and the requirement not to pray in church goes against the grain for all of us. The aim is to model what is needed from the whole community, minimise risk and save lives.

The opportunities for praying at home and of using social media to be with others are considerable. This Sunday, if the technology works, I will be preaching in the Nadder Valley without leaving South Canonry.

I hope it will be possible to celebrate Maundy Thursday together by streaming a service at 11.00am, probably from the chapel at South Canonry. More details next week.

I also forward this link to material prepared by the Liturgical Commission for use at the shorter funerals which will be either at the graveside or crematorium.

I very much liked this prayer by Alan Amos, a priest who retired into the diocese and has PtO here.

A locked church

Ah my dear Lord, the church is locked
but let my heart be open to your presence:
there let us make, you and I,
your Easter garden;
plant it with flowers,
and let the heavy stone be rolled away.

Pray for me, as I do for you.

+Nicholas Sarum

[click here for our diocesan coronavirus page]

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