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Clergy Comments


Dear Friends, Our April edition includes the most sacred time in the Christian Calendar. The first Sunday in this month marks the beginning of Passiontide and carries us through the events of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Good Friday, and brings us out finally into Easter with all its amazing consequences for those who were there (and us!). But how much does this most sacred moment in history touch the wider world, then and now?   It is quite a thought that if the life of Jesus had been at a moment in history such as we live in today i.e. a world of mass media, worldwide communication, the Internet, Facebook etc. Just how would his impact have been reported? Just how would He have been received? We cannot answer that question. It is one of those ‘what if’ questions. It is the sort of challenge school children like to be faced with in designing headlines for a local paper. What we do have for certain is the impact His story had on those who were closest to Him, recorded in the writings of the Four Gospels. What we do have, in turn, is the impact their own telling of the story had on the communities they were in touch with, recorded in the rest of the New Testament. So, in particular the Acts of the Apostles, has to be read every Sunday in the Easter Season.     Outside the Bible what is written about Jesus and the early years after Easter? The Roman Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writes about Jesus and John the Baptist. He was writing in Rome about AD 71. Most scholars believe what we read is from the hand of Josephus and so he is regarded as a very important and independent witness to the historic reality of the life of Jesus.      Why am I writing all this? Here we are in the 21st Century being encouraged to think of ‘God for all’. Here we are being encouraged to think of Mission Communities. Look no further than Calvary to see that Jesus wished to communicate with all and sundry. This was appreciated by at least one Roman soldier (‘truly, this man was the son of God’) and also by a convicted thief, hanging within inches of Jesus on another cross (Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. To which Jesus replied: Today you will be with me in Paradise.)     The centurion, the thief on an adjacent cross, were there. What did Jesus do? He revealed His Love. He convinced them of a love greater than they had ever experienced before.       Archbishop Sentamu, preaching a Sermon on Easter Day in York Minster a few years ago said: What he kept coming back to in the Gospels was John 3.16- ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in him shall have eternal life.’      There are so many people who figure in the story of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Can I suggest you read for yourself just ONE of these records in ONE of the Gospels?  Then take one of the characters and try to put yourself into the place of that person in that

moment as they fit into the story. See if this brings you closer to an understanding of yourself in the light of what you see in Jesus.       We know the world has faults. So do you and so do I.  Such truths can weigh heavily upon us. There is relief and joy to think that if I did not realise I was a sinner, God would have had no need to die on the Cross and no occasion to be forgiving and be close to me!

       The Peace of Easter be with you.                                                                                                 Philip Dearden

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