The April Pastoral Letter from the Rector and Bishop Martin’s Lent Letter
We’re on the Road to Glory!
Like many of you, in the last twelve months I have said ‘farewell’ to several close friends who were far from old by today’s life expectancy; and like most priests I have buried or cremated the old and the very young; I have taken funerals of the rich and the poor, of those who were obviously much loved, and of those for whom there were few, if any, tears shed.
Over each one of them the same words are said:
“Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”;
bodies that were filled with breath, perhaps only a few days before the funeral, feet that had been dancing, lips which had been smiling, do so no more, and the funeral service gently reminds us that:
“We brought nothing into the world, and we take nothing out.”
Sadly, many people think that death is the final end. Christians do not! Neither do we believe that those smiling lips and dancing feet and that body, which was once filled with breath, is all lost. Rather, because of the resurrection of Jesus it is all ‘hid with Christ in God’, and is being raised to new life.
Of course, I do not pretend to know all that happens, and neither do I know exactly how the Father raised Jesus from the dead. All I know is that the resurrection is the work of God and it is brought about by his power. For the moment, the witness of the Twelve Apostles and the Early Church to the resurrection of Jesus, and his promise that we too will share His resurrection, provides me with sufficient reasonable proof to launch out on this great venture of faith in the God who will bring those ashes and that dust, laid in the churchyard, or somewhere else, to glory. The old Negro Spiritual runs: “We’re on the road to glory” and that is precisely where our destiny lies, because God has raised Jesus from the dead.
We are fast approaching the Passiontide, where our celebration of Jesus’ saving death and mighty resurrection from the dead will come to its climax as darkness is filled with the new light of the glorious resurrection of our Lord. What He did some 2,000 years ago, which can never be repeated, we share in, through the Church’s worship. Be especially close to our Lord in his suffering and death, and so come to know the power of his resurrection. Continue keeping a good Lent so that we may celebrate a truly wonderful Easter.
Your friend and priest
May I take this opportunity, on behalf of Gill and myself to wish all of you a very blessed Eastertide.
Bishop Martin's Lent message:
“Time is one of the great challenges we all face - though differently.
For example, I have become acutely aware of the extent to which trains do and do not run on time. For some, a delay makes little difference; for others it can mean missing a vital train connection, being late for an interview, or not getting to your daughter's performance in the school play.
Many people complain that there are simply not enough hours in the day. At the same time, there are many who simply don't know what to do with the hours that sit so heavily upon them: people with no hope of work - a proper job - or those whose work is abusive; elderly people who live alone; those who are waiting to die, but can't.
It is perhaps with these thoughts in mind that we approach the season of Lent, an annual gift to Christians for renewal in our discipleship of Jesus Christ. Lent is very specific in the measurement of time. It lasts for 40 days. That evokes the number of years that Israel was in the wilderness; and although within that period the issues of food and drink became flash points of encounter with God, it was the question of time that bore down most heavily. "How long?" is the underlying theme, rather than, "What shall I give up?
As we embark on the season of Lent this year, we might think seriously about the use of time in our 40 days of renewal. How much time will you allocate to season of renewal? What would you be prepared to give up, in order to catch up on discipleship skills and calibre?
Within the Church of England we are at the moment being asked to spend time looking at three aspects of our life that will sharpen our effectiveness and participation in the Mission of God. Those areas are renewal in holiness, renewal in ministry and renewal in service to our neighbour. This Lent is an opportunity to tackle these three challenges seriously.
When I worked in London, the Muslim students who worked in our local M&S SimplyFood fasted for Ramadan, not eating until the sun went down, or after it rose. That taught them about time as it is measured by the rhythm of the earth as God created it. They weren't extremists; they simply took the discipline seriously and presented to us Christians an impressive example of time-keeping.
So, how will you spend your time this Lent?”