As I write, we’ve just experienced the most wonderful Easter. The weather was perfect – the trees in bud and blossom, the birds in song and our hearts were raised with Christ. Thursday 30th May sees the next important day in the Christian calendar – Ascension Day – when Jesus is taken away from this earth to be in the kingdom of heaven with his father. As with Good Friday, this day can be seen as a day of grief and sadness – a day of loss -but it also marks a time of waiting for God’s gift of the Spirit which came with power on
the disciples at Pentecost.
Over the last few years, our Archbishops have invited us to keep these 10 days as days of prayer and meditation. Because the Holy week meditations were so successful in the numbers that attended, I’ve decided this year that we should keep the 10 days from Ascension to Pentecost as a time of prayer and waiting for the Holy Spirit, and as a time to strengthen your lives as you begin to get ready for an interregnum. Each short service will begin at 8pm (look out for which church is hosting!) and we shall begin as has been customary at Hillfarrance with a service of holy communion; and this too will be at 8pm.
I do hope you will join me in at 8pm from 30th May to 9th June.
As I was writing my Rector’s report for Oake, I indulged myself and looked back over the 17 years I’ve been Rector in the benefice. I listed my highlights and realised just how many things had changed over that time; the old village hall was demolished and a new one sprang up, the school kept its old building but added a new one, the church took out pews in the south aisle to create a bright and flexible space, the cedar tree fell in the storm and a beautiful sculpture was created, the altar was stolen and a marvellously crafted altar now stands in St Bartholomew’s. From the old, from the tired, from the broken and the hopeless, something marvellous and maybe even better, can come. I’m sure as I write the reports for the other parishes I will discover the same….the old gives way to new, as we move with the times, and, in Christian terms, as we try to listen to God and are prepared to trust the next part of the journey to a God who says “Behold I make all things new!”
The message of Easter is like that – from death comes life, from despair comes hope, from hopelessness comes miracle, from betrayal comes forgiveness. Just when we think we would like to give up or cannot see a way forward, we can be surprised by joy.
I have found that the best way to really experience the full message of Easter is to immerse yourself in the lead up to it – to come to the Holy week meditations, the Passover Supper, the walk of witness and Easter day itself. Of course there might be reasons why you can’t do everything, but there’s a wealth of opportunity to dip in and out. By experiencing Holy week – you go from high to low, from low to high: from Hosanna to Crucify! From the cross to the empty tomb.
May you have the chance to experience Easter in its fullness so that however you are feeling, that message of Christ’s triumph over death will be real for you.