PASTORAL LETTER APRIL 2013
Easter Day marks the beginning of the rest of our life together in the powerful light of Christ to guide and teach us. The Season of Easter, which begins on Easter day, the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ, continues for 50 days until Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. During the Season of Easter we keep the Ascension of Christ. The statement in the Creeds that Christ “ascended into heaven” is based mainly on Acts 1:1-9 where, after 40 days of appearances, the Risen Lord speaks to his Apostles before his humanity is taken up into heaven.
Easter is a season of joy lightening the darker times of saying sorry and being sorry for our sins. And it focuses on the mysterious truth about Jesus Christ being fully human and fully God, who overcame suffering and death to rise in glory. His risen life empowers our present life and sustains our future hope for our own resurrection.
Look around you for the signs of resurrection in the new buds and blossom in a winter garden, in the recovery of a loved one after illness, in the healing of a broken relationship, in the knowledge of God’s forgiveness, and in all new beginnings.
The twelve disciples who were slow to learn, and deserted their Lord when he needed them, are now Apostles, witnesses of the good news of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. There is a similar word to witness which is martyr. The Apostles used to be called martyrs, but with the spread of persecution the word was reserved for those who had endured hardship for their faith, and eventually it was only used for those who had suffered death.
Within the Christian Church we keep a calendar of saints and martyrs whose goodness and devotion to God have inspired the world, and continue to inspire our faith today.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran and theologian. He worked against the influence of the Nazis on the German Church. He wrote about the importance of the role of Christians in the secular world, and he became known for his strong opposition to the Nazi dictatorship. He was involved in a plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler and was arrested by the Gestapo. He was executed by hanging on the 9th April 1945 while imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp, just 23 days before the German surrender.
One of the ways we can draw near to our saints and martyrs is to pray their prayers:
O God, early in the morning I cry to you. Help me to pray and concentrate my thoughts on you; I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with you there is light; I am lonely, but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help; I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience; I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
May God bless us and delight in our prayers; and may we be always open to a new calling and a fresh insight from God.