Vicar’s April letter

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Dear friends,

I don’t really like winter! I know we have had a really mild winter this year, and I am not moaning. I know that with a little bit of snow some of the views around the forest and across the river are quite spectacular. We walked around both Soudley Ponds and Cannop Ponds when they were frozen over and they were absolutely beautiful. But, despite all this beauty, I really don’t like winter. I don’t like being cold. I don’t like the damp. I don’t like fog. I don’t like icy roads or footpaths. I don’t like dark mornings. I don’t like dark evenings. I think I’ve made my point … I don’t really like winter!

But its spring now! The buds are on the trees. Some trees are already in blossom. The grass is starting to grow a little. There are crocuses and daffodils coming up all over the place. It won’t be too long before the bluebells are out. We have had a few really warm days and temperatures generally are on the way up. There are new-born lambs in the fields. Wonderful. I am looking forward to exploring more of this wonderful area in which we live. I am looking forward to long walks with stunning views and quiet spots of hidden beauty. I am looking forward to days out riding on the bike.

A lot of these images and ideas of spring have become associated with Easter over the years. The Diocese has produced some new ‘Experience Easter’ posters for 2012 that feature daffodils. This makes some sense as we think of new life and new hope at Easter. But it also misses the point a little. Easter isn’t about daffodils or eggs (regardless or whether they contain chicks or chocolate buttons!). It’s about Jesus! It’s about his resurrection on that first Easter Sunday, but it’s also about his death on Good Friday! Without thinking about Good Friday a little, we can’t really understand or appreciate Easter Sunday.

Jesus died a horrible death on Good Friday. Crucifixion was a horrendously painful and drawn out way to die. Jesus was not forced to die. Things didn’t get out of control. The plan didn’t go wrong. Jesus chose to die. He knew that he had to. It was the plan all along. He spoke about it with his disciples on various occasions in the weeks and months leading up to it. He knew what it would entail. Not just the terrible pain and suffering, but the even more terrible separation from his father. Jesus suffered and died and was separated from God, so we don’t need to be. Jesus took our place, died for us, received what we deserved for the way we have turned our back on God. That’s why it’s called Good Friday. Because it’s Good News for us. A new relationship with God, without fear of condemnation, is Jesus’ gift to us.

And it gets even better! Jesus rose for us as well. He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday so that we would know he has power over death. He rose so that we can believe his promises to us of life after death, with him, with God, in eternity, in a place with no more death or mourning or crying or pain. At Easter we celebrate Jesus’ new life. At Easter we celebrate our new life. A new life with him here and now. A new life with him that continues on into eternity. Now that is worth celebrating!

Spring is great, daffodils are great, crocuses are great, new-born lambs are great, tiny chicks bursting through their shells are great. (Chocolate is great!) But Easter is not a celebration of spring. It’s a celebration of the new life that Jesus lives and offers to us!

I hope you enjoy spring. I hope you enjoy Easter. But I pray that you may be able to celebrate the real meaning of Easter by accepting Jesus’ gift to you. His gift of his death in your place. His gift of new life, with him, forever. If you want to talk about any of this in more detail, please get in touch. I would love to talk with you.

God bless