There is a green hill far away…
My Easter message to the clergy and parishes…
I would like to take this opportunity to give you my best wishes for Holy Week and Easter. I hope that this is a joyful and meaningful time for you and the communities you serve.
There are many reasons around us to lack confidence in the Church we love and the Gospel of great Good News that we proclaim: the papers constantly bombard us with stories of decline and apathy; there are renewed attacks on our Faith by bodies like the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Society and it seems that there is always a scientific atheist waiting in the wings to kick us when we are down. This holy season is a time when, in the words of St Paul, we can powerfully demonstrate that ‘we are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies’. After all, the dispiriting pinpricks of attacks on us are as nothing compared with the sufferings of the Japanese nation at the moment and of those people and places in the world where to be a person of faith is, in reality, a life or death matter. The attempts to undermine our faith here should be seen as a joyful opportunity to explore the Truth in the rough and tumble of everyday life rather than the gradual nibbling away of the Death Watch Beetle of secularism and atheism.
We live by stories and, at this time in our nation’s life, we are being affected by many of them. The forthcoming wedding of William and Katherine reminds us of the hopeful story of love and self-giving. Our continued involvement in the bloodshed of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan re-tells to us the story of life’s harshness and the complexity that we live with in making good and ethical decisions as human beings. The continuing story of recession and budgetary cuts reminds us that, here and now, the everyday lives of ordinary people are being affected for ill by economic forces beyond our immediate control.
Those who hold to the Christian story know that all the events of our lives happen in the context of the ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ: these are the stories that we are told and tell ourselves as we seek to live our lives fully and well; the stories that sustain us in the face of death, bereavement and loss and they are the stories that point us beyond the many graves and deaths of life to the hope, meaning, joy and glory which can lie beyond in Christ.
This Holy Week and Easter, we have, as a Church, the opportunity to tell once more the stories of life and new life again. In our liturgies and in our teaching and preaching, will we rehearse these holy and life-giving mysteries with joy, expectation and freshness so that others may catch hold of what we have experienced, or will our observance of this holy time be repetitive and dull? It is in the way that we, the Body of Christ, now re-tell and re-live the stories as communities of faithful people that we will be deepened into that fullness of life which Jesus promised and it is in the manner of our re-telling of the story that others will either be inspired and engaged or will suspect us to be the dry dust that our detractors proclaim we are.
My prayer for the Church in Lincolnshire is that our services and life together in this most special time are of such depth and joy that we can come to Easter Day and with real conviction say:
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
I wish you a most holy week and a happy Easter.
~ by Tim Ellis on April 18, 2011.
Posted in Easter
Tags: Afghanistan, ascension, atheist, Christianity, Church, crucifixion, Easter, economic, faith, Good News, Gospel, Holy Week, hope, Humanist, Iraq, Japan, Jesus, Libya, life, Lincolnshire, love, message, papers, Prince William and Katherine, recession, resurrection, risen, scientific, Secular, self-giving, St. Paul, stories, suffering, There is a green hill far away, Truth, visible, wedding, world