Dear Friends

The question might often arise, "When is Easter this year, (or perhaps next year)?" A tricky one, unless you have a calendar handy! Linking us with the Church’s early days, Easter Day is calculated, l believe, as the Sunday after the full moon on or after a (notional) Vernal Equinox! Understandably, there is always pressure for a more ‘convenient’ fixed date! But the service of God is demanding, and needs discipline, and to start focusing on our convenience is not, surely, an appropriate priority. To make the effort, and the sacrifice, to keep church festivals on the right day, conscious of our unity with Christians in many other places, is a healthy discipline. Our Church is more than our parish! There was the bizarre case ofa certain St John the Evangelist’s parish. St John’s Day, for them, was inconveniently right near Christmas, on 27th December. (lt was doubtless placed there as a special honour for St John!) That feckless parish thought it convenient to celebrate their parish patronal festival on St John’s day, 24th June. They did not care that that June date is for St John the Baptist - not their man at all!

But the calendar takes us only so far. lf celebrating Easter is anything properly real to us, it can happen every day, helping us to be focused on more than the usual pressures and demands of life - money, career, family, and the rest. At his crucifixion, Jesus cried, “lt is finishedl”. He didn’t mean, “l’m finished,” but, triumphantly, "My life and work are completed!"

That life was tackled by attending to his Father, and helping others, in love. This involved effort, discipline, sacrifice, encountering opposition, and finally meeting death. As St John’s Gospel tells it, Jesus did not have his life taken away from him, but voluntarily gave it up. And he told us to take up our own crosses and follow him, and to leave self behind, and lose our life to save it. Life ~ in our secure and prosperous pan of the world — can oten be lived for long periods dodging serious threats and stresses ~ completely ignoring the fact that eventually we will lose our possessions, our strength, and our life itself. As Graham Norton once wrote, so delicately, “all of our lives end up in the skip”. A frail old person once said to me, sadly, of their life, “I have set store by the wrong things”. The pandemic may have brought home to us — very usefully — that, even in our society, this life is fragile and finite. But Easter says that a way of life which is looking to God and, having a vision of life as challenging but hugely hopeful and eternal, can transform every day.

We watch quiz shows and sometimes realise that many in the community have no real idea at all of the Easter story. So, we may think that they need information, and indeed they do. But the key thing is that they need to encounter Easter people, - those who are not just well-informed, but who have something special about them —~ a quiet living relationship with God, a sense of the sacred, and the stability and strength that gives them. A real and attractive and humble humanity, willing to be open and vulnerable, not focused on self, status and control.

Finally, two quotes:

"Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us." -  [Desmond Tutu (apparently referring to Easter)]
"Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." - [St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1]