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From the Vicarage

 

One thing the past year has reminded us about is the foolishness of making assumptions/taking things for granted but, as I write this (Mid-April), there is a sign of better days to come.  This is heightened by lighter days, improvement in the weather, and, above all, by the joyous events of Easter.  If ever there was a new beginning and reason for hope, Holy Week and Easter scream it from the rooftops.

 

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds of the natural cycle of things and that there is a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to laugh and a time to cry, etc.  It reinforces the notion of past and present and the idea that, though we may need to work hard, we are called to enjoy life.  It would be very easy to look back on the last year and focus on the negative.  I am not wishing to gloss over the awful situations that people have found themselves in, and many still do.  I have had first-hand experience of not being able to see relatives, of treatment and appointments being cancelled/postponed and have accompanied several families through some dark times indeed, as well as going through some dark times myself. 

 

Whilst the past informs our present and future and helps shape the people we become, we shouldn’t live in it.  I am not naïve enough to think we can all always feel happy and walk around with a smile on our face.  Indeed, I know it isn’t always easy to look on the bright side; in fact, there may not always be a perceivable bright side on which to look.  However, sometimes we are part of our own darkness and let ourselves be weighed down by feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or regret but none of us are perfect and we can look forward to nothing but disappointment if perfection in ourselves and others is what we are looking for.   We need to accept our imperfection and vulnerability and, whilst not using it as an excuse for doing wrong, we should try to find ways and reasons to rise above them and help others who are struggling to do the same if we can. 

In the Gospels, we hear about the disciples waiting in fear in a locked room after Jesus has died.  The assumption is that they are frightened of the Jewish and Roman authorities and are in hiding.  All of that may well be true but I believe that there is another element to their self-imposed imprisonment: they are worried about how Jesus is going to treat them, guilty about their failure. 

 

These people followed Jesus around, praising him, basking in the reflected glory of his triumphs and popularity.  They promised to always be with him, to be there for him. but they weren’t.  They abandoned him, betrayed him, denied even knowing him.  He had failed and they weren’t going to be caught up in that, so they ran and they hid.  Imagine then the shock when it’s discovered that he lives.  They have failed and abandoned, not just a man they claimed to love, but God.  They were well steeped in stories of righteous indignation from the Jewish scriptures (our Old Testament): no wonder they were scared.  Perhaps they shouldn’t have been surprised that Jesus, who brought himself back from the dead and escaped a sealed stone tomb, enters a locked room.  Surely they’re for it now.  Then he speaks “Peace be with you.”  No anger, no criticism, judgement, or condemnation.  He knows they’ve failed, they know they’ve failed, but he doesn’t even mention it.  He speaks of peace and love and moving on together.

 

Of all the people who have ever lived, he is the one who least deserved to be let down by his friends and let down to the extent that he suffered pain, insult, and death.  Yet, he does not condemn, he accepts them as they are, loves them, and offers them a future with him.  If he, after all they’ve done, can still treat them with love then shouldn’t we be able to accept that, although we’re less than perfect, we are still loved and valued by the most important person that ever existed.  Equally, can’t we then accept the imperfection of others and treat them with dignity, respect, and love.

Easter – a new dawn, let’s grab it and make the most of it. 


God bless        

 

Fr Andy

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