Update for Forest Row for Sunday, 24th March, 2024

The grave of hope

The English language contains a paradox, where to grieve and to have a grievance come from the same word, but have very different meanings.

To have a grievance means to be defined by our loss, and to be in search of redress.

To grieve means waiting tenderly while our loss takes its time to work its way through us.

Perhaps we can map a territory for grief, between the extremes of denial and being crushed by the weight of our grievance. In this unfamiliar terrain, even hope has to be laid in the grave. Here, the mournful awaiting, which we have practised throughout Passiontide, comes to the fore.

Humanity is in a time of mourning. Many people are aware of the passing of cherished landscapes, or whole species. We might mourn the loss of things that had meaning for us, for example, a picture that we had of the world. The idea of steady progress in the direction of the good, in national and international affairs, is harder to uphold now than it was a few years ago. And perhaps some of the fevered responses to the news are evidence of a grieving process that is going on, passing through denial, anger and perhaps some bargaining – ‘If I can convince myself that I am in the know, and won’t be fooled by this or that source of information, will the news be less disturbing?’

On Good Friday, Jesus addresses the women who are wailing at his fate:

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.

(Luke 23:28)

Mourning prepares us for the future in a way that the more active, intentional parts of our being cannot achieve. The poet Rilke expressed this most beautifully in his correspondence with a young man who had sought his advice on writing poetry, and to whom he became a mentor and friend.

It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary – and toward this point our development will move, little by little – that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own.

Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke, 8th Letter

Can we embrace this Holy Week, with the terrible events at its ending, in solidarity with grieving humanity? Can we grow so still in our souls that we prepare for the future, for what is being prepared in the grave of hope, which we might then experience on Easter Sunday as something that we already know?

Tom Ravetz

We have a full programme for Holy Week, with the Act of Consecration of Man daily at 10am and a workshop on the Holy Week in our Lives. On Easter Sunday we will hear an Easter story with the children, and there will be an Easter contemplation with conversation for those not involved in the Easter egg hunt afterwards.

It would be very useful for planning purposes if we had a rough idea how many people were coming to the supper on Maundy Thursday. Please fill in the form via this link, or contact Margaret on 07312 079 350.

We are looking for accommodation for Peter Selg, who will be with us to hold talk on Christ and the Disciples – The Spiritual Community on Friday, 24th May. Peter is travelling with his young son and possibly his grown up daughter, so two rooms would be optimal! He will be arriving on the morning of the 24th May and leaving the next day. Please let us know if you can help.

We are also in need of new servers. Our faithful team of regular servers is carrying a lot, and it would be wonderful if others could join them. Serving is a way of coming closer to the service and feeling part of it. It is not difficult to learn. Please let one of the priests know if you would be willing to try.

With very best wishes for Holy Week and Easter,

Nataliia Shatna and Tom Ravetz`


Nataliia will be in Canterbury on 28th March and 1st April.


Support The Christian Community

To make a one off donation or to set up a monthly standing order, please use the account details below

Account Name: The Christian Community in Forest Row
Sort Code 30-92-92
Account Number: 00012363
Lloyds TSB, 1/3 London Road, East Grinstead
West Sussex RH19 1AH

If you are a UK Taxpayer, we can claim tax back on your donation if you fill in a gift aid form. You will find one here, which you can download and return to us (signed and scanned is fine)

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Find us

School Lane / Hartfield Road
Forest Row
East Sussex
RH18 5DZ

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Priests of the community: Tom Ravetz and Nataliia Shatna. Contact us on the church email or using the form below.

Gospel readings for 2023-24

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