From the Rector
The last edition of The Bridge neatly covered the four weeks or so of Advent and the 40 days of the Christmas season until Candlemas. Because of this year’s early Easter, the February/ March edition spans Lent and Easter. Just as there is never a dull moment in meteorological seasons, the Church’s seasons change at a pace too.
My eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. Luke 2: 30-32
Candlemas (2nd February) ends the time when we remember Jesus’ birth. However, through the Song of Simeon (see Luke 2), we also look forward to Jesus’ rejection and towards the rapidly approaching season of Lent.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy,
slow to anger and of great kindness. Psalm 103.8
Lent, our preparation for the sadness then joy of Easter, begins with Ash Wednesday. Ashes are an ancient sign of penitence; from the Middle Ages it became the custom to begin Lent by being marked in ash with the sign of the cross. The story of Jesus’s death on the Cross, his Passion, is read on the Fifth Sunday, giving it its name of Passion Sunday.
In early church history, the Pascha was a night-long vigil, followed by the celebration of the Eucharist at cock-crow – it included all the great Easter themes: incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection, glorification. Today, by participating in the whole sequence of Easter services, we too can share in Christ’s journey, from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) to the empty tomb on Easter morning.
Maundy Thursday has the key themes: humble Christian service (Christ washing the disciples’ feet), the institution of the Eucharist, and Christ’s loving obedience through the agony of Gethsemane.
After keeping vigil (‘Could you not watch with me one hour?’), Thursday passes into Good Friday with the ancient veneration of the Cross-and the 19th Century Devotion Meditations. There is no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday, rather consecrated bread from Maundy Thursday is given in communion. The church remains stripped and without liturgy: there can be no adequate way of recalling the dead Son of God, other than silence and desolation. However within the silence, a sense of peace and completion grows.
From earliest times, Christians have gathered through Easter night to recall the story of God’s saving work, from creation to the resurrection. Thus, the Easter Liturgy becomes an experience of new life in the passing from darkness into light. The Easter Vigil marks the end of the emptiness of Holy Saturday, and leads into the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Day – Alleluia! All the resources of the church – music, flowers, bells, colours – are used to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The ‘Alleluia’, absent throughout Lent, returns.
Now the queen of seasons,
bright with the day of splendour,
with the royal feast of feasts,
comes its joy to render. (John of Damascus)
Please look inside the copy of The Bridge and here on our website for details of Lent and Easter services.
Survey of Community Needs
In the December and January Bridge Questionnaire, I wrote to say that I would like to know more about the wider community and how the Church, both buildings and people, can support it better.
It is true that we are also blessed with four lovely buildings what transpires is that they can be an even better resource serving and welcoming so many people. We shall be able continue the long Christian tradition of serving the community, and not least by providing a place to gather, a place of help and hope, and a place to learn.
I believe we should, as the Bridge Benefice, offer opportunities for bridge-building: links for people of faith and those of none; and, for people with gifts to offer and those who wish to learn of things sacred or secular .
Thank you for the numerous replies and I look forward to posting our findings on the website very soon.