The Dean of Chester, Tim Stratford, used his Maundy Thursday sermon to highlight the differences between the rich and the poor and to call on all those in relative comfort to be thankful.
The Dean quoted an Indian Doctor’s critique of the global pandemic in which coronavirus is described in a Facebook post as a disease that was “spread by the rich” and which will “now kill millions of the poor.”
The post was published just as the country and its 1.3 billion citizens were instructed by the Indian Government to observe social distancing and strict personal hygiene, measures that the Doctor says "are accessible only to the affluent."
Reflecting on the fact that he has so far avoided the virus, the Dean said that this was down to “good fortune” rather than “good judgment” and stressed that around the world, it is the wealthy that have access to the washing facilities and the means with which to keep the virus at bay.
Dean Tim said the Doctor’s Facebook post had caused him to think about where the people Jesus stands in solidarity with are in today’s world.
He called on all those lucky enough to live in relative comfort, to be thankful. He said: “If you live in relative comfort. You can keep safe, and keep yourself clean, give thanks. Give thanks, and pray for those who can’t, and those who don’t for our sakes, and show something of Jesus’s love to them. Amen.”
Hundreds tuned into to watch the Maundy Thursday service
The Acting Bishop of Chester, and Bishop of Birkenhead, Keith Sinclair, led the service which was broadcast online and watched by hundreds of people. Bishop Keith said, "this is a Maundy Thursday Holy Communion like no other."
Commenting on the unique situation facing the Church, Bishop Keith expressed his thanks for the way in which parishes have responded. He said: "Before we begin may I take this moment to express my thanks to everyone for the way in which you have responded to the briefings, guidelines and requests which have been made of you.
"Never before in our lifetime have the church buildings been closed for worship, but as we have said from the beginning of this crisis the church of Jesus Christ is never closed. We are his body wherever we meet in his name and it has been wonderful to see the creativity even ingenuity of so many in using the gift of the new technology to reach our congregations and communities."
In normal times Chester Cathedral would be the physical setting for Maundy Thursday services, one of the most significant days in the Christian calendar, at which sacramental oils would be blessed and distributed around the diocese for use throughout the following year.
On Good Friday, hundreds would pack into the Cathedral to remember Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion.
And on Easter Day, hundreds would celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and the dawning of a new world in which love triumphs over death. The services that take place in Holy Week and on Easter Day are some of the most powerful of the whole Christian year.
The schedule for the remainder of Holy Week is:
MAUNDAY THURSDAY – 9 APRIL
7pm – Cathedral Eucharist (on Zoom)
GOOD FRIDAY – 10 APRIL
1pm – Devotion and Prayers with Frances Ward (YouTube)
EASTER SUNDAY – 12 APRIL
10am – Easter Eucharist with Bishop Keith (YouTube)
Some of the services will be broadcast live via Zoom or YouTube, and all of the services will be available via YouTube after the event for people to enjoy in their own time.
If you wish to join the Cathedral via Zoom, you will require a password. For full details, please go to chestercathedral.com/stream