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From the Rectory

  May 2017  

As far as the rest of society is concerned, Easter has been and gone – with only a trail of sweet wrappers and empty egg boxes as evidence it ever happened at all. 

But the Church doesn’t give up so easily – and hangs on to Easter for seven entire weeks. In the early days, ‘Pentecost’ was the name of the entire season – but now it’s used only for the very end bit (‘Pentecost’ is Greek for ‘fiftieth day’).

Since the 4th century, it’s been the custom on the 40th day after Easter to celebrate the Ascension, with the arrival of the Holy Spirit being marked 10 days later.

But what sense can the rest of society make of all this?

The rising of Jesus from the dead, which we celebrate on Easter Day – is problematic; the Ascension of Jesus into heaven – is problematic; the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples at Pentecost – is problematic.

We do no one any favours if we give the impression it’s all remarkably straightforward! As that will simply reinforce the idea – we’re all terminally odd.

Which is why we need to keep on making the point – that religious ideas always need taking seriously, but rarely (if ever) literally.

And whilst we’re about it – we really ought to say something as well about the way Christianity makes all sorts of demands, many of them uncomfortable.

A recent opinion poll indicated that 37% of those who self-identify as Christians never, ever go to church.

On the surface this sounds a bit like saying you’re a football supporter – but never watch any matches. Or that you’re interested in politics – but never bother to vote.

To be a Christian involves nailing your colours to a very particular mast – and commits you to certain ways of behaving.

It involves living as if other people really matter. Not just the people we know, not just the people we happen to like, not just the people we readily identify with, not just ‘our sort’ of people – but everyone. 

Every single one of them: poor, foreign, needy, helpless, unrespectable, unwashed – whoever. 

Of course you can do all this without going to services – and some of those self-confessed Christians who never set foot inside a church may well live exemplary lives. 

If so – good on them! Because the rest of us need to keep turning up, Sunday by Sunday, to try and stay focused, to look for guidance and inspiration, to keep our noses to the moral grindstone – in an attempt to live godly, righteous and sober lives. 

And because we keep failing – we need to keep going back, again and again and again. 

It’s jolly hard taking this Christianity stuff seriously – and we do no one any favours if we pretend otherwise.

The central symbol of our faith is the cross – about the most powerful way of saying that we’re dealing with really, really serious stuff – which is a matter of life and death.

And that it’s simply not possible to take Christianity seriously – without taking all other people seriously as well.

Given the horribly negative way that the tabloids talk about migrants and benefit claimants – it’s not surprising church numbers are falling.

Because the ethical demands made of those who call themselves Christians – are just too much for most people.

And although it would be good if more wanted to join us – it would be hypocritical for anyone to do so, unless they felt able to commit to this core value.

‘God is love, and those who live in love, live in God’. Words from the First Letter of John, which are said at the beginning of every single marriage service.

Entirely appropriate – not just for a marriage, but for the rest of life as well.

Someone may well be able to take love seriously, without taking God seriously. But it’s not possible to take God (or Christianity) seriously – without taking love (or other people) seriously.

Our prayer must be that the New Life we keep going on about at Easter sweeps through our society, like a mighty, unstoppable tide – so that the divine spark in each of us – helps us to recognize that everyone else has got one as well.

Revd Tony

Any enquiries relating to the Week St. Mary Circle of Parishes should be directed to:
Revd Tony Windross, The Rectory, The Glebe, Week St. Mary, Holsworthy, Devon EX22 6UY
Email:  • Telephone: 01288 341600

For local enquiries relating to Week St. Mary Church matters please contact either of the Churchwardens:  Lesley Booker Tel: 01288 341221  or  Richard Sowerby Tel: 01288 341348

For enquiries relating to Week St. Mary Methodist Church please contact
Rev Doreen Sparey-Delacassa • The Manse, Canworthy Water • Telephone: 01566 781854

© All of the content of the Week St. Mary website is the copyright of David Martin & Linda Cobbledick except where stated 2006-2017