Dear Parish Friends
As we celebrated Easter Day, and proclaimed “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!” I was reminded of a story I read last Easter, as part of a York Study Course:
Mr Wrigley was a no-nonsense Lancastrian. He was a sidesperson and gave out the hymn books with a grimace he probably meant as a smile. He didn’t say much and he didn’t stay around for coffee. But once a year he came into his own. On Easter Day he would walk from the back of the large church all the way to the vicar’s vestry. He would stand in the doorway and say to the vicar, ‘Christ is risen, vicar.’ And the vicar would reply, ‘He is risen indeed, Mr Wrigley.’ Mr Wrigley would nod, satisfied with the answer, and then walk all the way to the back of the church for the rest of the year.
The simple fact that ‘Christ is risen’ is what kept Mr Wrigley going in whatever the year brought him, and it is the central belief that has motivated countless millions of people on every continent for two thousand years. As St Paul tells us, “as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father…we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
This assurance in Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t mean that we don’t still have questions as to how things are happening around us. Asking questions, grappling with the unknowns, is something that is very much part of our faith journey. In next Sunday’s gospel we will hear the story of Thomas seeking to comprehend what the other disciples were telling him about Jesus. Augustine of Hippo, in the 5th century, coined a phrase “believe that you may understand”; in other words knowledge of God comes before faith in Him, but faith in God brings with it a constant desire for deeper understanding.
It is therefore important that we keep taking opportunities to keep asking questions. I hope that some were able to join Jonathan Sargent’s Bible 360 online seminar last week. We will be restarting study groups next week, on the first and third Tuesday mornings (10-11.30am) and the following Wednesday evenings (7.30-9pm). For the next couple of months we will look at some questions that often come up, using short videos produced by St Francis College as starters. This file lists the questions. If you would like to join June and myself in discussion, then please contact me, and indicate which of the questions you would particularly like to address.
We are getting to grips with Zoom and teleconferencing for our services, and it is great to hear the chatter as we gather, but want to make sure that no-one is being missed. If you, or someone you know, would like a call, or if you have any prayer or praise to share, then please let me know.
A prayer for us all as we navigate our way through this challenging time:
Loving God, we thank you that you are with us, and that we may call upon you no matter where we are, or what we are feeling. Keep us mindful of your presence and trusting in your promise – that you are working with us in the moment-by-moment unfolding of our lives. Amen.
And an Easter Blessing:
The power of the Creator who brings life out of death, be in this place.
The risen Christ be your constant companion.
The healing embrace of the Holy Spirit encircle you
so that you see resurrection ever about you.
Yours in Christ