Rector’s Letter, March 2024

One of my favourite novels is Any Human Heart by William Boyd – it charts in powerful prose the highs and lows of a man’s life – his griefs and his joys.

Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday, through Good Friday and onto Easter Day has the same feel concentrated into just eight Days.

Palm Sunday (24th March) an apparent high – Jesus is recognised as a great prophet, the crowds come out and palms are scattered – like the original tickertape welcomes that heroes used to get when arriving in New York!

But the darkness swiftly descends. Those forces which simply could not cope with Jesus’ message of inclusive love for all, perhaps especially for the outcasts and marginalised (those whom every society has and demonises), leads to Good Friday: deserted by friends, a kangaroo court and painful and ignominious death on the cross. The crowds that celebrated with him six days before, now hissing and jeering – another constant in history, the easily manipulated crowd!

That, of course, should be the end of the story. But something then happened. It cannot be tied down, but I have no doubt something did happen – because somehow those broken-down failures of followers were turned into a group that changed the world and, by the way, gave their lives for proclaiming their truth “this Jesus whom you crucified is risen”. A mystery certainly, but one that has changed the world.

I always get slightly irked when people tell me Christianity is an escape from reality: “pie in the sky when you die”, because that is not my belief. For me the Christian story rings true to both the highs and the lows of life. We can experience such utter highs when all is good and life so worth living, but most of us sometime or other experience also lows, where darkness seems to have the upper hand.

And for me, the cross holds both together – both the reality of pain and suffering and the hope that love and goodness are stronger and will triumph. That hope has been a foundation for millions upon millions both over the ages and in the present day. As St John says in his glorious prologue to his Gospel: “The light – the light of Christ – shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” Our world seems quite a dark place sometimes both globally and sometimes for us: Holy Week can help lead us into the love of God revealed in Jesus.

I invite all who wish to, to joins us in that walk from Palm Sunday, (where I am delighted to say we are joining with St Richards), through Good Friday, to the glory of Easter Day.