The View from the (vacant) Rectory - April 2019
Normally, when you read these words at the beginning of April, we would be looking forward to the coming of Spring, with all that means in terms of the re-birth of Nature and the environment around us. But this year we had that incredible period, a couple of weeks in February when we enjoyed record high temperatures and heard the welcome song of the birds and the unusually early one of the lawnmower. References were made in weather forecasts and elsewhere to the fact that at exactly the same time last year we had been shivering in the grip of the so-called "Beast from the East", with record breaking low temperatures in stark contrast to the sunbathing this year.
Inevitably, thoughts and discussion turned to global warming, and only time will tell whether things will revert to what we have hitherto regarded as normal, with Spring breaking forth in late March or early April, or whether our February heat-wave represented an incredibly early Spring, and the seasons will then follow in due sequence.
Either way, we have to accept that there are no rules to govern the timing of the arrival of the seasons, though we realise increasingly that there is much that we can do to influence their nature and severity. There are, however, rules which govern the timing of the seasons of the Church's year, and in particular the date of Easter, though those rules do differ between Western and Eastern churches. As a result, Easter this year is towards the end of April, and the beginning of that month will see us well embarked on the season of Lent.
So throughout April we will follow our chosen Lenten activities, whatever they may be: attending services incorporating special addresses and discussion; Lent study groups; reading a "Lent book" of devotions or bible study; Lent lunches, in aid of Church charities and organised by Churches Together; perhaps denying ourselves some much-loved luxury.
Whichever of these paths we follow, why do we do so? Whatever we choose to do should be inspired by the example of our Saviour, Jesus Christ himself, as he followed his pre-ordained path to Jerusalem, knowing what awaited him there - Gethsemane, the Cross, suffering and death. But beyond death, beyond the shame of arrest on Maundy Thursday, beyond the agony of Good Friday, lay the triumphant glory of Easter which is the resurrection, bringing to each of us the promise of eternal life with Christ.
So, as we follow our chosen path through Lent, let us remember always why we do so, and the fulfilment that awaits us at the end of our own road to Jerusalem. Let us also, as we attend services and events throughout Lent, Holy Week and Easter, consider constantly whether there is any way in which they could be improved, made better and more fitting. For the arrival of a new Rector will in due course give us the opportunity to review this and many other aspects of our church life, an opportunity which we should seize eagerly.
I wrote earlier of the re-birth of Nature which comes with Spring. This year, Easter will bring for all of us the prospect of re-birth and fresh achievement in our Christian life together. Let us pray that God will help and direct us towards that achievement, in His name.
May our progress through Lent and Holy Week be a blessed and meaningful one, leading us to our full share in the glory of Easter.