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Letter from the Vicarage.
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:18.
Well, I think it is safe to say we have manged to get through this past winter, weather wise, pretty much unscathed. No lengthy winter of snow as last year. In fact, the opposite has been so. We have had a very mild winter with temperatures in February reaching record highs. As I sit in my study just now, looking out, I can see spring bulbs, buds on the trees and lots of new life in the garden. The daffodils have been open for three weeks almost, the birds are in full song and their nest building is well underway. The squirrels in the vicarage garden are full of activity. Signs of new life.
And so, as we continue our journey through Lent, we begin our approach towards Easter. Easter is about new starts, new life, new birth. This is often symbolised with images of eggs and chicks. We give and receive Easter eggs and maybe cards with pictures of spring sunshine or new-born chicks. But Easter isn’t really about eggs or chicks. It’s about Jesus!
The real reason that we think about new life at Easter is because Jesus, who was crucified on that first Good Friday, rose to new life on the first Easter Sunday. This is not just a wonderful story, it’s an historical fact. Jesus’ body was never found, and his resurrection never disproved. This was despite the best efforts of the mighty Roman Empire and the committed and powerful Jewish leaders to destroy the early church and discredit their belief. The early disciples were changed from a frightened and disillusioned group to people who stood up against the authorities and eventually gave their lives for what they believed – for what they knew to be true – that Jesus came back to life on Easter Sunday. New life for Jesus leading to new life in his disciples.
The impact of what happened that first Easter are still relevant today. When Jesus died and rose, he did it for us. He offers us new life, eternal life, with him; life that starts now, but continues beyond this life. Now that is something worth celebrating!
But as I have said, we are still on the journey towards Easter and between now and then there continues to be a time of getting ready. In church there is the opportunity to do just that and I invite you to join with me throughout Holy Week. Beginning on Palm Sunday (14th April), there will be a joint service at St Laurence’s which will include the giving out of palm crosses and the dramatic reading of the passion narrative. There is to be a service of prayer, reflection and music on the Monday and Wednesday evenings in St Mary’s. Holy Communion will take place at St Laurence’s on the Tuesday. There will be a Maundy Thursday Evening Communion Service with foot washing and stripping of the altar, and, on Good Friday, in the morning, craft activities for children at St Mary’s and an hour before the cross in each church in the afternoon. During Saturday, the churches will remain in stillness while we await the glorious Easter Sunday morning when there will be traditional Easter Services both at St Laurence’s and St Mary’s.
And so, as we continue to prepare and wait let us look forward with anticipation to what lies ahead; the promise of new life in him who lived and died for us and rose again. I hope, when it comes, you have a wonderful Easter. I hope you get to eat some Easter eggs – but not too many! I hope you enjoy a break from work (if you are working) and I hope you can have some quality time with family and friends. But more than all of this, I hope you spend some time thinking about the real meaning of Easter, Jesus’ resurrection. I hope you spend some time thinking about the possibilities of a new life for yourself, starting now and continuing into eternity.
Happy Easter and God Bless
er from the Vicarage.