Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
No I am not a month late; as we enter May we are still in the Church’s season of Easter. It seems a shame to me that if, after all the effort we put into observing Lent, Passiontide and Holy Week, we celebrate Easter Day only to feel it is then all over. It certainly is not over; these weeks of Easter give us opportunity to reflect on the different Resurrection accounts, to try and understand what it must have been like for all those first witnesses of the Risen Christ, and to consider afresh what it all means for us. By faith we believe the Risen Christ is present with us with power to bring new life and to bring us his message of peace.
We shall celebrate three special days during May:
Ascension Day – the day when we remember that the bodily appearances of Jesus eventually came to an end and that he has ascended to the ‘right hand of the Father’. God entered our world by humbling himself and being born as a baby and now, at the completion of that earthly life, his humanity is taken up and exalted in heaven. We cannot claim to really understand this but, nevertheless, there is something about it to engage our thoughts and lift our spirits.
The Day of Pentecost – we remember the accounts of the Holy Spirit being given to those first disciples; we thank God for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches, and we pray for fresh outpourings of the Holy Spirit in our day.
Some of you will have already heard me say this but I really appreciate the way in which the Church of England, along with many other Christian denominations, marks and celebrates the various seasons and festivals throughout the year. It does mean that in the course of a year we consider most, if not all, of the important aspects of our Christian faith. (Some of it is not easy, and for those of us who preach we can be presented with quite difficult scripture readings to speak about sometimes!)
Trinity Sunday, our third special day in May (just!) is the day when it all comes together for me as we consider the mystery of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
My hope is that, as we continue through this season of Easter and then move on to celebrate these great festivals in the Church’s year, we may each have fresh experiences that will encourage and strengthen us, each in our walk of faith. I was recently struck by the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ (20.29a NRSV) Coming to belief can be a process, we should not be discouraged if we feel we are making slow progress. I believe that God in his time and by the hidden work of his Holy Spirit will, and does, continually draw us into fresh insights and experiences of his presence with us.
I have mixed feelings about writing this letter, I consider it a privilege to have been asked but am also aware of our Vicar Michael’s continued indisposition through illness at this time, and I am sure I speak for us all in wishing him a speedy and full recovery and assuring him of our prayers.
From The Vicar …
Yes, I still think of myself as your Vicar even though I have not been in church for a while now. Thank you for the many messages of hope and “get well soon” cards. I hope to do just that but I am told that these things can take a while. I am improving but there are days when I know all too well that my journey is not over.
Please keep me, and Stella, in your prayers as I try and keep St. Mary’s in mine every day.