Letter to parishioners, 4 November 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

In Sunday’s reading from Luke’s gospel we will hear Jesus’ words: … he is God not of the dead, but of the living.

The Church is now journeying through the Kingdom season, the time which takes us from our celebration of All Saints, through the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed and Remembrance Sunday, up to the festival of Christ the King. Then the annual cycle of celebration and commemoration will begin again on Advent Sunday (this year that will be on 27th November). The Kingdom season, the liturgical colour for which is red, is a time for us to celebrate and reflect upon the reign of Christ in earth and heaven. Although this important culmination point in the Church’s year marks a return to Ordinary Time, the green of that season gives way to red as a way of reminding us of those who sacrificed everything out of a commitment to loving and serving in the name of Christ. Red also provides a visual reminder of the abiding power of the flames of the Holy Spirit in our troubled and divided world.

The Kingdom season is punctuated with moments when we remember the dead, those who have died in more recent times and those who have died in ages long past. Because of the apparent finality of death in this world, and because of the absence of ‘scientific’ proof about the after-life, we often fall into the trap of creating a narrative of our own. This is what we hear in this week’s gospel reading. The Sadducees (… those who say there is no resurrection … ) create a spurious scenario with which they hope to trap Jesus. But, Jesus cannot be trapped in such matters. Jesus knows the reality of God’s Kingdom; Jesus knows that what awaits those who die in this world is something that far exceeds the capacity of our puny imaginations. Jesus knows the reality of the words we will hear him speak to the Sadducees, and to us: … he is God not of the dead, but of the living.

As we journey through the Kingdom season we are encouraged to celebrate the year that is coming to an end by reflecting upon the totality of Jesus’ life on earth and his eternal reign in heaven. We are being encouraged to show what difference Jesus makes in the time of our human lives. We are being encouraged to join the saints and all those others we remember who have lived lives of faith and who now reside in the heavenly home prepared for them through the sacrificial love and service of the Son of God who walked this earth two thousand years ago.

In Psalm 90 we read these words: So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Centuries before the Incarnation of Christ the psalmist recognized the truth of the words we hear Jesus speaking through the writings of Luke. Earlier in the same psalm we read: Before the mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the world were formed, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Our God is the God of the living, and not the dead. Our God is the God who created the life we cling on to so dearly. Our God is the God who wants us to use our time on earth wisely in his service.

As we go forward in faith let us have this prayer ever on our lips, that we might set aside our human wisdom which, by definition, is flawed, and let us go forward in the faith that will ultimately lead us into an eternity in God’s nearer presence, an eternity of true life.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen