Frensham Village Churches

Letter from the Vicarage - May 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

As Easter day was quite early in the year this year, the month of May heralds the Christian celebrations of not just one but three festivals!  Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.  As if it wasn’t busy enough through Lent, Holy Week and Easter…the pace doesn’t only continue but picks up with these special services!

 

Like many Church festivals, these generally mean very little in the secular world, but they do actually have relevance for everyone and everything. They are also pivotal within the continued life of the Church because within their spirituality they hold not only the hope for the world but also the process and energy by which everything is joined dynamically together in this life and the life beyond. The continued sharing of this Good News brings light into dark places – and there are many dark places in the world today…

 

Earliest records indicate that Jesus’ disciples commemorated the anniversary of their Master’s Ascension from the off, as it were. The initial ‘church’ was under much pressure and in fear of annihilation from both Romans and the Jewish hierarchy and needed all the comfort and encouragement it could get, and so knowing (as it was later written in John’s Gospel Chapter 14 verse 2) that Jesus ‘had gone ahead to prepare a place for them’, the disciples’ keeping the belief in Jesus’ mind-stretching and faith challenging Ascension was essential for their survival.

 

Four hundred years after Christ’s Ascension, St Augustine wrote that the Church had ‘commemorated the festival from time immemorial’, and he believed the Apostles were the first to keep the day special and set aside for communion with their risen Lord.  Chrysostom, the most famous of the Greek Fathers, who was born 9 years before St Augustine, recorded that a church outside Antioch observed the festival. Socrates also recorded this at Constantinople. And other recordings state that it was kept as a Holy Day in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

 

All throughout history, Ascension has been a key festival, but nowadays it seems to have been completely side-lined in preference for Easter which has much more commercial value – and especially secularly…

But when one adds the incredible awakening about the after-life in God’s Kingdom through Jesus’ Ascension, with the power of the Holy Spirit that affected over 3000 people at Pentecost – an energy that literally caused the birth of the primitive church, which in turn caused the amazing spread of the living knowledge of the Trinitarian God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one can understand that this succession of festivals was not ‘pie in the sky’ but the revelation for all of the very Living Waters of Eternal Life. Jesus said, ‘Let those who are thirsty come and drink from the living waters of Life’ (John chapter 4 verse 4).

 

I think we are parched in this world…we are drying up with violence, persecution, depression and anxiety…

Recently my friend’s son-in-law was shot repeatedly at close range with an air rifle outside his house by men who wanted money for drugs. My nephew–in-law was also recently attacked by a man with a baseball bat outside his house (for what reason we cannot be sure) and incurred injuries not only to his body, but also his mind and spirit due to subsequent depression and anxiety attacks (thankfully both survived.) People almost routinely now have their possessions stolen (especially in this area) and their houses vandalised, and the police are helpless to do anything unless they are caught red handed and even then most get away without prosecution through loopholes in the law. The world is in uproar over the recent use of chemical weapons by those power crazed tyrannical leaders who are scared of true relationships with the rest of the world; others are putting the potential for peace and integration in the world in jeopardy by their unwise knee-jerk reactions both verbally and with active retaliations which are questionable but the dilemma of how to protect people from unfair dictatorship still remains…

 

Yes - we are indeed parched in this world… because there is still great pressure and fear of annihilation from many directions (just like in the disciples’ time) as I alluded to just now. But we do not lose hope and we will survive because the risen Christ still stands among us 2000 years later, and still carries us through these difficult times, and is still helping us to evolve and grow up so that one day there will be peace.

If you are thirsty for hope and searching for peace, come on 10th, 20th and 27th May for the full experience…

 

With love and prayers,

Jane