Dear Parish Family,
I am writing this Easter Pastoral in the midst of Lent, so forgive me if I talk about temptation. Temptation to just skip to the happy parts of the Gospel message. The temptation you face when you pick up a book and just read the last chapter. Why wade through all that reading, I’ll just find out “who done it” and then, if I’m interested, I will read the rest. Certainly, you would be able to go to a book club meeting, having read the book cover and the last chapter, and fake a conversation as if you read the whole thing. Here is the point, faking it may work at a book club meeting, but recent studies have shown that faking “religious behaviour” leads to depression. Your soul knows. It knows what it needs to be alive and healthy – the full Gospel message!
The full Gospel message embraces all of life. Its message is incomplete when you pick and choose the parts you want to embrace. The long-standing joke is that most Anglicans are C&E (Christmas and Easter) not CoE (Church of England). The unspoken truth that a party, happy time, faith is far more desirable than one which has us face the challenging task of living faithfully in our daily lives. The Lenten call to face the harsh realities of life and death is not a time most want to participate in. We even remove the harsh reality of governmental oppression, poverty, exile and infanticide from the story of the birth of Jesus. Remember the parable of the soils – without depth the plant withers and dies? A faith which is seen as not part of everyday life is soon discarded as unimportant, insignificant and lacking any meaning. Sadly, the church community is reaping the results of C&E faith and the world wants to nail it to that cross. The Lord has risen and so will His faithful servants! We will gather and celebrate our faith now and always!
In the time between your reading of this letter and our Easter celebrations, read the full Gospel narrative of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read why Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Feel the deep sadness of betrayal. See the love Jesus showed to his best friend and mother. Embrace the peace of forgiveness from the cross to the condemned and the condemning. Note the utter despair and hopelessness of the disciples and the peace and empowerment Jesus brings to them after the Resurrection. The empty tomb is only a sign post on the journey of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is empty because the story, the work of Christ, continues throughout eternity. We gather to celebrate and affirm the ongoing story of God’s saving work in our daily lives and in the lives of all the faithful. Come and be part of the celebration.
Fr. David Warren