Vicar's Letter April 2018

APRIL 2018

Dear Friends,

GOOD NEWS

Can you picture the excitement of gossip spreading through a community? Everyone is talking about it; many folk are wondering how on earth the news has spread as far and as fast as it has.  Can it really be true?  Individuals are greeting one another, “Alleluia! Christ has risen,” and the reply unfailingly comes, “He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”

GOOD NEWS TODAY?

Now transfer that picture of your imagined community to Stonehouse today!  Somehow it's more difficult to see, isn't it? Easter is a time to moan that Spring has been late coming this year; or a marketing opportunity for chocolate eggs; or a long weekend holiday starting on a Friday whose date is unpredictable from year to year. For many, of course, Easter is more than that; it is the time laid down for remembering the story of Jesus. Many folk would say specifically that it was at this time of year, nearly two thousand years ago that Jesus rose from the dead. Many will go on to say that it is a special moment to remember lost relatives and dead friends, a time when it matters to make sure that graves are in good condition and well decorated with spring flowers. How many people, though, will say that Easter is the best possible GOOD NEWS for me today, now? As for getting excited about it, well, we're British, aren't we?!

PROCLAMATION

The task of the Church (that's you and me, not the myriad of buildings or denominational organisations) is to proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen, is alive and active in this world now, calling men, women and children to be His disciples. That life of His must grow out of events that took place a long time ago, but it is not life a long time ago that we are celebrating and proclaiming. It is life today, spreading throughout the world as people turn to Christ, recognising that only in Him is there anything permanent worth hanging on to, any life that is not going soon to be destroyed by death.

40 DAYS

In the time-scale told to us by St. Luke, there were forty days of Jesus appearing intermittently to his disciples. That period came to a dramatic end when Jesus “ascended” into heaven. Ten days after that, the disciples had the experience of the Holy Spirit coming on them, again with considerable drama. We may or may not be interested in what happened then; what matters is what happens to us today! In the 40 days after Easter, we focus particularly on the presence of Jesus, alive with us today, not just on the appearances he made years ago to his disciples. Then we pray that the Holy Spirit will be given to us, the members of His Church today, in other words that God will get right inside us.

At Pentecost (50 days inclusive after Easter), we rejoice in that gift – and then use it! Use it for the rest of our lives. It's good to know how the gift first came, good to see how He has been given to many different people in many different ways through the years, but above all it's good to know that each one of us can live our whole life in the power of that gift. So let's celebrate the joy of the 40 days of Easter, let's be serious about praying especially in those ten intermediate days. And then let's get on with life, life to the full in the Holy Spirit.

CHANGE

The time after Easter will be different for me as I learn to work within a team rather than just with St. Cyr's. Sometimes that will mean you get a rest from me as I go elsewhere for the 9.30 service! Most Sundays I shall need to get away to take an 11.15 service somewhere else. I hope all of you will adapt pretty easily; do keep an eye on this magazine for details of exactly what is happening when. And do come, if you can, to our Annual Parochial Church Meeting on 22nd April. At our last such gathering I indicated that I was not expecting to be here by then; this will definitely be my last however and I have given my retirement date to the Bishop as 30th September this year. Exact details of when my final service will be and so on will be given in due course. But I hope you know that I have always tried to encourage the people of God here to exercise their ministry with or without me. I am quite sure that God will work among you – however differently that may work out – and I pray for God's blessing upon this parish – and this Team - for years to come.

Charles