Please see our web site http://www.stmaryslymm.org or the parish magazine for details of activities, services and meetings.
Some Key events:
Maundy Thursday – 1 April
Good Friday – 2 April
Easter Day – Sunday 4 April
For details of Easter Services please see the St Mary’s Website.
THE RECTOR WRITES
“I have never put my hope in any other but in you, God of Israel.” So begins Thomas Tallis’ great 40 part motet, ‘Spem in Alium’, the finest flowering of sixteenth-century polyphony. It’s a song of humility, asking God to “look upon our lowliness”. But above all it’s a song of hope in God.
Easter is the season of hope. Advent also is a season of hope, but there is a fundamental difference. In Advent we are looking back over our shoulder to the Old Testament promises and prophecies that await fulfilment in the birth of a Messiah. But in Easter there is no looking back: it is all about pushing forward into the future, where God already is.
There is a good deal of confusion around about the Easter hope: a confusion which seems to affect Christians sometimes as well as others. You can often see it in funeral services, in what people think a funeral is, and the most common non-biblical readings chosen for such occasions. Chief among the latter is probably Henry Scott Holland’s “Death is nothing at all”. It goes on to say “Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was”. I have to say I cringe every time it’s asked for at a funeral, because it denies there is any problem. It denies the need for hope in the face of the real, dreadful break that a death represents. Henry Scott Holland’s words are part of a wider trend in a society that is no longer sure what – if anything – we hope for after death. And it leads to the question of what people actually believe in when they talk about Easter: what do people think is meant by resurrection hope? What do we think we are celebrating at Easter?
I suspect that for many people, getting beyond the idea that resurrection is a piece of superstitious magic is a major hurdle. For others, believing in a re-animated corpse leads to confusing resurrection and reincarnation. Probably the biggest assumption (certainly reinforced at some funerals) is that resurrection tells us the purpose of being a Christian is to go to heaven when you die, which of course leaves Christians open to the accusation that they’re not much concerned with this life and this world.
Yet the resurrection stories in the New Testament don’t say ‘Jesus is raised, therefore there is a life after death and we will go to heaven’. They say: Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah and God’s new creation has begun. The resurrection of Jesus has happened in our world, and its implications and effects are to be felt in our world. We are part of God’s new creation, and our job is to announce that Jesus, Lord of the world, is raised, and to get on with making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven. Our hope is precisely that God is going to make a future world where heaven and earth are joined together. The resurrection of Jesus shows us that that hope for the future has come forward into the present, has broken in to the here-and-now. St. Paul describes it as the “first fruits” of the new creation. It is a foretaste of things to come: the assurance that our hope is real and certain. That’s why Paul says if the resurrection does not give us a sure and certain hope, then Christians of all people are most to be pitied.
In much of our devotion and thinking about Easter we put the emphasis in the wrong place: in speculating about what really happened, or in confining ourselves to a belief in a personal life after death. But God’s purposes for us and his creation are much wider and greater. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s ultimate future for us coming forward into the ‘now’ with a new urgency that calls us to action in the present. That is the hope we renew each Easter, and what we are called to proclaim.
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