Dear People of Alnwick,
My friend Laura is a busy, experienced parish priest in the heart of London and is regularly asked to have a conversation with potential candidates for ordination.
London, as most of us are aware, is an unusual place in many ways and this is particularly true of its church life.
The city has within it several very well known churches which are vibrant with activity and particularly attractive to young, often wealthy, professional people. Church life in those places is extremely well organised, intellectually stimulating and based firmly on recognising Jesus as a personal Saviour whose dying on the Cross is viewed as the climax of Salvation.
‚ÄúSo‚ÄĚ, you may be asking yourself, ‚Äúwhat is wrong with that?‚ÄĚ Well, to a degree, nothing ‚Äď and yet, at the same time, everything!
The end ‚Äėproduct‚Äô in these cases is that very significant numbers of potential ordinands are coming forward who, to borrow the title of a book by Sheila Cassidy, are ‚ÄėGood Friday People‚Äô.
Now, before letters of complaint are sent off to the Bishop about the heretical Vicar of Alnwick, I need to make it perfectly clear that I am not trying to underestimate the absolute centrality of Christ‚Äôs action on the first Good Friday ‚Äď but we do need to see what happened there in the light of Easter Day.
Of course, Easter Day would be impossible without Good Friday. ‚ÄúNo Cross, no Crown‚ÄĚ is one way of expressing this ‚Äď but it is Christ‚Äôs victory over death and the grave that marks us out as people of faith.
As Laura listens patiently to the journeys of faith of the people she is asked to see, she tells me that they so often end with Good Friday and she then has to ask where they see Easter Day in their understanding of our God who loved the world so much that he sent his Son ‚Ä¶
¬†‚ÄėTis mystery all! The Immortal dies:
who can explore his strange design?‚Äô
wrote Charles Wesley.
And it is that ‚Äėmystery‚Äô on which we pin our hopes. The mystery of a heavenly Father, a God, whose BABY SON was born in a stable, whose DYING SON bled on the Cross, which enables his RISEN SON to live in our hearts through faith.
We are Christmas people, we are Good Friday people ‚Äď but, most of all, we are EASTER PEOPLE and ALLELUIA! is our song!
With every blessing,