Well, we are nearly there! Not towards appointing a new priest to the village, I’m afraid, but the most important festival of the Christian calendar – namely Easter. Throughout the period of Lent, which began on Ash Wednesday (1 March) some of us have been in a penitentiary frame of mind. That may sound very tedious and dull, but it does give us a chance to reflect, to think, to study, to read and to pray. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week and this begins with Palm Sunday which commemorates Christ's triumphant arrival in Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd. However, these cheers soon turned to vociferous demands that he should be executed. How attitudes can change within such a short period of time!
During the rest of Holy Week we remember, in particular, the last week of Jesus’ life. The Thursday of Holy Week is known as Maundy Thursday when we remember the occasion when Jesus had his final meal with his disciples (the Last Supper), he washed his disciples’ feet and the Eucharist (or Holy Communion) was instituted. In our country the sovereign takes part in the ceremony of the Royal Maundy. This ceremony, held at one of our cathedrals, involves the distribution of Maundy money to deserving senior citizens (one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign's age), usually chosen for having done service to their community.
Holy Week then culminates in Good Friday when we remember the day Jesus was put to death. Since the exciting events of Palm Sunday it has all gone rather pear shaped! But now we wait. We wait during Holy Saturday (sometimes mistakenly called Easter Saturday) and then we arrive, at last, at Easter Sunday.
All of what is recorded, and I have outlined here, actually happened. It is part of history going back over 2000 years. Where Christians and others differ is in their interpretation of what that means for us, in other words the significance of these events. To Christians Easter is the main festival.
Christmas might seem to be a more exciting festival but Easter is more important to us. It is the basis of the Christian faith.
But having said all that, Easter is an exciting time of year for all of us, whatever we believe. Winter is behind us, spring is well and truly here and summer is not far away. During the period of Easter children get a break from school, and many adults get a long weekend to enjoy.
So whatever you believe, do enjoy Easter this year. Have a good break and make the most of your time away from the routine of life.
With best wishes to you all for a very happy Easter.
Licensed Lay Minister and Churchwarden