Letter to parishioners, 16 April 2022

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week there is just one message for us all to ponder … what does Easter mean to us?

As I write we are in the middle of the three day service which begins on Maundy Thursday and does not end until the great Easter Acclamation of Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! at the Easter Vigil this evening.

On Thursday evening people gathered to recall Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper. We remembered his call to serve as he got down on his knees and washed the feet of his disciples; his giving of the new commandment to love one another just as he has loved us; and the institution of the holy communion, the celebration that lies at the very heart of our worship. At the end of our Maundy Thursday service, those who had gathered left in silence as they marked the moment when Jesus entered his time of Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

For three hours on Good Friday there was a time of reflection and prayer at the foot of the cross. During this time we recalled Jesus’ journey from his Agony to his tomb. We reflected upon his Seven Last Words from the cross, and what they mean to us in our day-to-day lives. Finally we heard Isaiah’s prophecy and the Passion narrative of John. We joined in the solemn prayers of intercession and we shared in the fellowship of the Good Friday sacrament. Again we left in silence as we entered that time of emptiness and mourning that lies between the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Today we, like those first disciples, wait! We do not wait in fear as they did, but we do wait. We wait for that moment when the new fire will be lit, the Easter candles will shine forth and we, along with Christians around the world, will proclaim: Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!. But what difference will that moment make to us in the coming days, and beyond?

During Lent many people have observed the Lenten discipline of fasting, praying, serving and increasing their engagement with scripture. As the great Easter Acclamation is proclaimed our Lenten disciplines come to an end, but … will it be back to our old ‘normal’ ways, or will we allow the great message of Lent, Passiontide, Holy Week and Easter make a difference to the way in which we live out our daily lives? Of course, there is a question that should also be asked of those who abandoned their Lenten disciplines weeks ago … ‘Why don’t you commit yourselves anew to prayer, service and scripture as you celebrate all that Jesus did for us through his crucifixion and resurrection?’

I pray that this Eastertide, as the world struggles with so many ills and misfortunes, will inspire us all to rededicate ourselves to being faithful disciples and apostles … taking the light of the resurrection into the lives of all we meet.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Revd Stephen