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Hallo again to all.

Cucumber sandwiches in the making For clergy and active churchfolk, the next two weeks are among the busiest of the Church's year. Passiontide begins today, on the fifth Sunday of Lent. We can now look forward again to being able to sing the word that sounds like Ashtabula. We have one week still to dig in and gird ourselves for Palm Sunday and then the old round of Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. This is the core of the ancient path of Easter observance, and it takes patience and fortitude. It is just over the horizon once we have held palm fronds in our hands in a week's time.

Today we think back to a particularly long Easter Vigil fifteen years ago when we asked a visiting West Indian bishop, sotto voce and during a complex moment in the proceedings, 'Do you know what's next?' He replied in dulcet tones—audible to others in the chancel—'I don't know …. But I hope there are at least some sandwiches.'

The bishop's wisdom in thinking of sandwiches at a critical time in the liturgical life of a parish community celebrating the Triduum has grown clearer and clearer in the years since our long-ago exchange. As we prepare to greet the Triumphal Entry of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the betrayal, the Way to the Cross, the Entombment and then the patient watch for the Resurrection, we will certainly need sandwiches.

Sandwiches are slices of bread between or among which one places some kind of other food, often along with a condiment or similar accompaniment. Bread can, in such a configuration, make a handheld conveyance for substantive and delicious nourishment eaten with one or two hands, rather than with cutlery. The Wall Street Journal (New York) has described sandwiches as Great Britain's 'biggest contribution to gastronomy' around the world, and this may be true, particularly if Anglicanism is Great Britain's 'biggest contribution to' global religious life.

Anglicans eat sandwiches for luncheon after Sunday services; in our regular daily noontide meals; during our ongoing conversations about sex and liturgy and salvation; at funerals, at christenings, at weddings; when we are in good company and when we are quite alone. We also eat them during Passiontide, when the presence of easily-consumed bread-and-more is especially helpful to nourish us handily for the celebration of the Mighty Acts of God. Cucumbers, cheese, sauces, spreads, fish and meat (for some), pickles, crustaceans, chocolate, mushrooms, rarebits—all are accompaniments to the daily bread that serves as the basis of a sandwich.

This Passion Sunday, we have entered a time during which focus and sleep will be at a premium for many thousands of clergy around the world. We know that their energy and capacities will be stretched to real difficulty through the Passiontide and Easter celebrations that lie ahead. During this patch, we hope that the wisdom of sandwiches will prevail for them and for the good people who love them. The daily strength for daily needs available in sandwiches can certainly help to keep body and soul together. And we pray for the keeping together of body and soul for all and sundry in this final stretch of Lent.

See you next week.

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6 April 2014

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