May 2016

Now the green blade riseth

I am writing this just a fortnight after Easter Day. And what a wonderful day it was with a brave throng on top of the mountain at dawn for the Eucharist where we were treated to a spectacular sunrise, then a joyous Family Service at St Margaret’s and an inspiring Communion Service at Clodock. And the run up to Easter was wonderful too, with many people enthusiastically participating in the varied ways in which we marked Holy Week. 

But now, we have to wait until the end of November when we start all the excitement again on Advent Sunday.

Well, no. From Christmas to Easter we relive each year the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ. From then until,November, we relive the birth and the growth of Christ’s church. That its why the Book of Acts figures so strongly at the moment in Sunday readings as it marks how that church came into being with extraordinary enthusiasm and innocence, coupled with the disagreements and differences which have been the hallmark of the church throughout the ages.

So what we should be celebrating now is the growth of the church. Sadly, while the church is growing exponentially in many parts of the world, that does not necessarily apply in this country, where it can seem to be a cosy (and smug?) little club whose members would rather not have any change, thank you very much, as they are perfectly happy with things as they are. 

But the church either grows or it dies. And that death might well be long and lingering, but it is nevertheless inevitable. How should it be growing here? Well, there are three things happening this month which are signs of how that growth should be.

First, there is the service for Christian Aid. It reminds us of two things: that we are here primarily to serve our brothers and sisters, and any church, knowing that there is suffering in the world, but which does nothing about it has forgotten what its mission is. But the service will also, I hope be fun. And that reminds us that following Christ should be joyful and full of hope, not  a miserable duty.

Secondly, there is the Craswall Pilgrimage. It reminds us powerfully that first of all our life of faith is a journey and we should at all times be moving forward, but it also tells us that we are not on our own, but that our spiritual journey is a pilgrimage on which we support and are supported by others.

Finally, there is the Deanery Service. There is a tremendous temptation, encouraged by the geography of where we live, to look inwards, and think of ourselves as primarily individual parishes, or even an individual benefice ploughing its own individual furrow. But we aren’t. We are part of a wide and varied and wonderful family, and worshipping together with other people, even if they live just over the benefice borders from us, is a marvellous sign of this.

The Easter message is one of hope - yes, hope that the world could be a better place, but also hope that we individually and collectively have a part to play in bringing that about. We all have, as the hymn says, a gospel to proclaim. How we proclaim it is going to depend on each of us and our talents and gifts and our circumstances, but proclaim it we must. For if we can’t, why did we bother to celebrate Easter in the first place?. 

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