LETTER FROM THE VICARAGE
On this page we reproduce the monthly letter from our Vicar as it appears in our parish magazine, the Parish News.
Letter from the vicarage
FROM THE VICARAGE - APRIL 2018
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
This is our great cry of praise at Easter as we celebrate Jesus' resurrection, and the hope that Easter brings.
After journeying through Lent and the events of Jesus' crucifixion, we come to the great joy of Easter Day when we cry 'Alleluia' as we hear the news that Jesus has risen from the tomb, and brings with him the good news that he has overcome death. And he brings the good news that all who believe and trust in him will not die but have everlasting life. Alleluia indeed!
Easter is the most important festival in our Christian calendar and yet for many of us it comes second to Christmas – but I think this has more to do with our culture than the church. It is far easier to celebrate the birth of a child than to reflect on the complexities of Jesus death and resurrection. When we contemplate the cross we inevitably have to face the part we play in Jesus' sufferings.
In life we choose whether or not we want God in our lives. That choice determines our reality at our death which is either the ultimate separation from our loved ones and God, or, life eternal with God and reunited with our loved ones who also chose to follow Jesus. But we only know of this reality because Jesus went before us.
Sin is not a popular word these days, and more often than not we try to avoid using it. Part of our problem is that we find it hard to clearly define 'sin'. Yes there are those things we can understand as going against God's will as we see in the Ten Commandments such as stealing or murder, but Jesus opened this definition up to include not just our actions but what is in our hearts and minds, our thoughts and attitudes - and that's the bit that we and our modern culture can find hard to accept. Put simply, sin encompasses all those things which move us further and further away from God and his loving will for us by hurting others or ourselves, because each time we do, we also hurt God. In time we can move so far away from God that we can even forget that he exists and that he is longing for us to allow him into our lives. God wants to be part of our lives not so that he can control us or to stop us having fun, but because he wants us to live wholesome lives and know we are loved and cherished by him. And yes there will be times when we do things which upset God, just as we can upset anyone who loves us. But just as we say sorry to our loved ones, so we can say sorry to God and ask to be forgiven.
If we were to transform our sins into building blocks then each sin contributes to building a thicker and thicker wall between us and our loving heavenly father, and the thicker the wall, the harder it is for us to hear God's voice and to break the wall down. God desperately wants us to break that wall down, but he also knows how hard that is for us to do, so he sent Jesus to help us do it. And this is what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.
Jesus travelled that journey from life through death. He willingly risked being completely separated from God for all eternity by offering to take on himself our sins and dying for us. But having no sin of his own, death could not contain him and he rose again. For our benefit he rose in bodily form so that we might witness his resurrection. We however will rise to life eternal if we believe and trust in him. In faith we hand over our sins by repenting of them, trusting in the knowledge that he has paid the ultimate price for them.
Repentance is another unpopular word, but it simply means that we are sorry for those things we say and do which move us away from God, those things which hurt others or ourselves, and for which we recognise we need to ask forgiveness. Repentance also means that we will try not to repeat them – which at times we do. But God's great love knows no limits, so we also know there is no limit to the number of times we can turn to him for forgiveness, nor is there anything too great that his love would not welcome us. Each time we repent of our sins Jesus helps us remove those 'building blocks' so that we can draw ever closer to God our loving heavenly father.
This is why we cry 'Alleluia Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, Alleluia!'
And what better way to celebrate Easter than with a rather delicious chocolate Easter Egg!
Eggs have long been a symbol of new life even before Christianity. The chick breaking through the hard shell and stepping out into the world was a sign that spring had sprung and the world was coming back into 'life' after the long dark winter. Christians often connect this to Jesus breaking out of his tomb. To celebrate this new life, eggs would be decorated and given as gifts, sometimes very fancy ones like Fabergé, but these days we give chocolate ones instead – something I heartily approve of!
Easter is a great celebration of new life. For us in the northern hemisphere it coincides with spring and we begin to see signs of new life all around us as the days get warmer and longer, and what a great joy that is. The trees are coming into bud, the birdsong is getting louder, and green shoots are beginning to push their way through the earth – everything is getting ready to burst into new life, and I thank God for it.
Enjoy your Easter celebrations and your Easter eggs and may you have plenty of them. And as you break into all those scrummy eggs, just take a moment to think on all that Jesus did for us that first Easter and give him thanks with a shout of 'Alleluia'!
May you have a blessed and joyous Easter.