From the Rectory
May 2006

Lent, Holy Week and Easter Day - What comes next? I don't know how it felt to you, but from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day, time seemed to hurtle towards me with almost indecent haste. Unlike the great festival of Christmas, which has a singularly joyful focus, we cannot celebrate Easter without first engaging with all of the emotions of Christ's Passion and death - and my, how they stretch us! After so much drama we really do need resurrection and new life.

It was good to share the services of Holy Week with so many of you and I do thank you for your company. I have been asked by several people for a copy of the address that I gave on Good Friday in Shirley Precinct as part ofthe Churches Together in Shirley Act of Witness and so I've included it at the end of this article.

The whole week proved to be a profound experience and we were all, I believe, ready for the Easter celebrations when they came. Have you eaten all of your Easter eggs yet?

Having only recently joined you happy band of pilgrims and now that my time in Andover is beginning to fade into the background, a new beginning, a fresh start, and the challenge of Freemantle feels like a personal resurrection for me. I have had to let the past go, die as it were and now that that has happened, the new seed can begin to put its roots down. This seed is ready, are you?

I hope that following the PCC Away Day, we will all begin to look to the future with hope and anticipation. The coming year will, as we celebrate 150 years of the Church's holy presence in Freemantle, provide us with many opportunities to celebrate. To celebrate not only our life of prayer and worship which is ongoing day by day, but also our engagement with the community and the wider Church. That Away Day will have happened by the time you read this, but has not as I write. As soon as we are able, and we are clear as to what we are trying to achieve, the results of that work by the PCC will be presented to you, so that we can all share in the future plans for this parish and celebrate our future together. The parish that doesn't plan for the future will not have one. We will have a plan and we certainly have a future.

Please remember the PCC and the clergy in your prayers as together we look ahead, plan and bear you all in our hearts before God. The PCC are your elected representatives and can only function properly if you engage and share with them in the tasks that they undertake. Remember, many hands make light work and we all have hands.. God needs yours as well as theirs.

So what comes next? Well in the Churches calendar it will be the festival of Pentecost, the arrival of the Holy Spirit. With Father, Son and Holy Spirit at our disposal we can't fail can we!

With every blessing and yours for Christ s sake,

Good Friday Address

Have you ever had a crisis in your life? Perhaps the chip pan caught fire, you'd never really thought about them, but the Fire Brigade came and saved you - weren't you glad they were there when you needed them?

Perhaps you've been burgled, I have twice. I don't give much thought to the Police day by day, but my goodness I'm glad that they are there when I need them.

About a year ago, I was rushed into hospital in the wee small hours by ambulance. I'd never really thought very much about Paramedics and hospitals, but my goodness was I glad that they were there when I needed them.

We all experience times when we have a need of help. We may not think so when all is going well. But when life gets hard, when we struggle to make sense of what is happening to us, when the crisis comes, as it will to all of us at some point, my goodness won't we be glad that there is someone that we can turn to for help in our hour of need.

Today the Christian Church marks Good Friday. The day when we remember the death, the crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world and our Friend and Redeemer.

Most people haven't a clue what Good Friday is about, 'Let's go shopping, wash the car, enjoy ourselves.' Most people are content to let it pass them by without giving it a thought. After all you can eat Hot Cross Buns any day of the year, what's the significance? We have allowed Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs to replace the empty tomb! Fairyland has replaced the reality of life! It hasn't made us better people, it hasn't made us happier, we are not more content. Yet we go along with it, don't we. We can't be bothered. Isn't your life worth being bothered about? Mine is!

Are you one that life does that to. Doesn't that bother you? Because it should. You only get one chance - one life. Are you content to let the world steal from you - because it won't give you the time to stop and pause - the knowledge that God loves you as if there were no one else to love.

Are you content, because the world puts so much pressure on you, to be robbed of eternal life, now, of life in all its richness? Are you content to let the world strip your life so bare that it becomes almost transparent and pointless?

Seize the moment, take today and take control back for yourself, take back what the world has, by stealth, taken from you. Don't be content with anything less than life in all its abundance, it's your right, it's your God given right.

Don't pass by on the other side this Easter. Don't wait for the crisis to arrive. Don't wait for life to nail you to the Cross, Jesus has already been there for you. Embrace God's love for you today, He died for you, He died that you might live. One day, and perhaps sooner than you think, you will need God and His Church. You might not think so now, but when the time comes, as it will, my goodness won't you be glad that God and His Church are there for you, ready and waiting, as they always have been, are now and will be until the end of time. God bless you, God love you and God save you. Amen.