As I reflect upon the Christian story that leads to Easter, I see not just the parallel with what happens as winter gives way to spring, but also what often happens in our spiritual lives. We cannot be simply “Resurrection people” whose faith consists of proclaiming, “Christ is risen”. That proclamation would be meaningless without Good Friday – how could Jesus be “risen” if he had not previously died? We have to experience Good Friday to be able to proclaim as Christians that death no longer has the final say. We must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, as the psalmist reminds us, through Holy Week, as we wait to return to the green pastures beside the still waters on Easter Day.
The word Lent, from the Old English ‘lecten’ to lengthen, merely reflects the change of the seasons. Yet Easter – at least in the northern hemisphere – comes at a time when life begins to return in the world around us. I am writing on a mild March day. As I look out into the cemetery, the snow has gone and I can even imagine the grass starting to green up. The buds on the trees have not yet burst and the spring flowers are only just poking themselves above the ground so far. Yet I know that life will return in full, just as I know that the dark days of Holy Week will be followed by Easter morning. Then we shall be able to proclaim, “Christ is risen” with its response, “He is risen indeed!”
This year of course, there is another sense of hope, of new beginnings. At least, we hope so! I’m referring to the waning COVID 19 pandemic. After two very trying years, we all look forward to continued easing of restrictions on our lives, including our church lives. Already, we are back in church, even though masks are still required and full Eucharist with wine is not yet permitted. But I think that, barring a disaster, we can worship safely. I therefore hope most sincerely that those of you who have felt hesitant about returning to church will be able to set aside your anxieties and come back. We miss you!!
Because COVID is not quite done with us yet, Holy Week will not be exactly as usual this year. We cannot have our traditional meal in the parish hall on Maundy Thursday. So I propose that instead, we meet for a meal at a restaurant Bryden’s, so that we can eat together on the occasion of Our Lord’s Last Supper. We will pre-record the church services for both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and we invite everyone to participate on-line..
On Good Friday, we will retell the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion; a time of solemn prayer and reflection (on-line only). But we will offer the full in-person St. George’s Easter Day experience; for the first time since 2019!! Those of us who are early risers will be ready – and hoping for a clear day! – to proclaim “Christ is risen!” at our annual sunrise service at 7:00 on Easter morning. It’s non-denominational, so invite your friends. We will also celebrate a Resurrection Eucharist at 9:30. We will record the 9:30 service as usual and make it available on-line for those who worship at home. But do, please, try to attend in person.
Finally, a very blessed Holy Week and Easter to you all!
Your brother in Christ,
Reverend Nigel Bunce