St Mary’s in Rye is open again for Sunday services, but not on weekdays, and last Sunday the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Rev Dr Martin Warner, led the morning service.
Next Sunday, March 28, is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the week leading up to Easter, and there are services planned at 8:30am and 10:30am.
Dr Warner studied at St Chad’s College, Durham, and completed his theological training at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He was ordained in 1984, becoming Bishop of Chichester in 2012.
Jane Orchard, a member of the congregation, summed up his visit: “Bishop Warner started his sermon reminding us that he knew Rye because, as a child, he used to visit his aunt and uncle here with his mother and brother. It held strong memories of place and coming to see people with whom he had great affection.
“He went on to preach on the gospel passage ‘wanting to see Jesus’. That was why we came to church – it was a ‘sacred place’, a theatre, a gymnasium (the Greek word for school). It was where we could learn the truth about ourselves – our joys, triumphs, our worries and our needs. And we meet Jesus in both his glory and his death, especially as it is the week in Lent when we focus on death.
“He quoted the passage about the seed which has to die before there can be a harvest. In this particular year when the world is in the convulsion of Covid and environmental changes we are aware of time, death and eternity and the mystery of death and resurrection. He referred to all those who are victims of the pandemic and all those we have loved and lost. But in Jesus we can find love, joy, hope and mercy.”
After the service Bishop Warner spoke with members of the congregation and said, “How lovely it has been to come to Rye this morning, the 5th Sunday in Lent, and look forward to the celebration of Holy Week and Easter with you all”.
[Editor’s note: As the diocese extends right to the other, far end of Sussex, a visit to Rye at the opposite end of the diocese is often referred to as “going to the Far East”. St Mary’s will be busy in coming weeks finding a new vicar as Canon David Frost retired in January.]
Image Credits: k.t.bruce .