The cold snap of late February and Early March this year has held up the end of winter like a coiled spring. All of a sudden, the daffodils and crocuses are blooming and the early spring herbs are shooting out of the ground like little green rockets. Insects also such as bumblebees, flies, butterflies and mosquitos are emerging. Molehills are springing up like little mountain ranges in the lawns. Worm casts are also being deployed like the piping of icing on a grassy cake.
Spring can feel like a very personal process of recovery after surviving a chilly dark winter. I am sure it feels the same for other organisms as they celebrate the return of the good weather with their blooms, bounds and beautiful birdsong. Conspicuous at this time is the song of male great tits calling ‘tee-cher tee-cher tee-cher’. This has been called the melt-song as it usually coincides with the melting of snow. In science writing, this change of the seasons is called phenology.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Easter Day this year is on April 1st, April Fools’ Day! It’s the first time I can remember this happening & it feels odd, but fun and rather subversive!
St. Paul talks about the Foolishness of God in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1 verse 25:
“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
He talks about the crucified Jesus being “a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” meaning that it was little short of scandalous to his Jewish contemporaries that God could be said to die in such a humiliating way, as a common criminal; and unintelligible to Romanised non-Jews who were used to gods who were effectively super-heroes. We are so used to the cross being a symbol of love, self-sacrifice and hope that we are de-sensitized to the shock and subversiveness of Jesus’ death.
God’s Foolishness, though, also includes the amazing fact that He trusts us – in our weakness and frailty – to respond to him and work with him of our own free, if imperfect, will. He wants us to be part of the Resurrection life that will change our world forever, to be part of his loving plan for the transformation of humanity.
This Eastertide let us offer ourselves anew to Christ, the crucified one, the Son of the Foolish God, who died and rose again that all might be free. If we don’t ultimately the joke’s on us…..
He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Happy Easter!
Love, Fr. John
Bishop Martin's Letter to Parishes in the Diocese of Chichester
There are two major Christian festivals in March. They celebrate people whose response to God was tentative, but consistent.
The first commemorates Joseph of Nazareth, the husband of Mary. The second festival celebrates Mary’s experience of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus.
Christians of earlier generations found benefit in presenting the story of Easter as the culmination of Christmas when Joseph and Mary were so prominent.
They did this through a cycle of mystery plays, the most famous of which are still performed in York, telling the Christian story from creation to judgement at the end of time. These plays were a bridge between ordinary daily life and the drama of heaven come to earth in the Church’s liturgical worship.
This year, an early Easter places Holy Week between the festivals of Joseph and of the annunciation. It is one of those periodic occurrences when dates and timing become symbolic.
Mary and Joseph are two ordinary people, from the same working town, who fall in love and get married. In the middle of all that something incredible happens, that transforms their lives. They become players in the divine drama of salvation.
Their festivals stand on either side of Holy Week and they, as it were, invite us to connect with that drama through our experience today of God’s call and God’s power.
In this Year of Prayer, my hope is that the drama of Holy Week will assume greater importance in your Christian life, and in your diary.
I hope that you, like Joseph and Mary, will allow the call of God to draw you into the drama of salvation: not as a spectator, but as a player, or agent, who will attract others to its reality, as you renew your commitment to know, love, follow Jesus.
A totally amazing six thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine visitors came to The Church of the Holy Cross to see Tenth year of the Festival of Christmas Trees, and it is doubtful whether anyone left disappointed, because there were an incredible ninety-eight decorated positions to be seen and admired. The Church welcomed visitors from as far afield as Yorkshire and Hampshire and a considerable number from across the country boundary with Kent. This Festival retains the traditional methods of tree decorating, but the Sponsors are very much encouraged to be creative and innovative, and this year they certainly excelled. One very special display was titled “Santa’s Workshop” which had been several months in development while another display was a tree that had been decorated to represent a full length dress. Photographs of the Trees featured in this year’s Festival can be viewed in the Church’s website Photo Gallery, which can be accessed via the main Menu Bar at the top of this page, or see the link below. The ninety-eight displays had been sponsored by a cross section of Uckfield’s community – schools, businesses, voluntary organisations and associations, community support groups as well as individuals and families. During Friday afternoon visitors were entertained by Margaret Watson,harpist,and John Pontefract a singer and guitarist. Children could have their face painted by Pretty Fantastic Faces on both the Friday and Saturday afternoons.