The Vicar’s Easter letter



Julian E Ll White

Dear People of the Parish,

This Eastertide has been different for all of us – believer and otherwise. Not least in that the scourge of Corona Virus has dramatically changed our lifestyle.

Not all of it has been for the worse, however. For example, many are experiencing an overdose of free-time. How we avail ourselves of this opportunity – in frustration or more constructive ways – speaks a lot about our character.

We have seen the worst of people and the best of people. The other day a girl at the local check-out of a supermarket told how a customer, laden with a trolley full of toilet tissue, refused the plea by a senior citizen to share just a couple of rolls with her. Such selfishness is in contrast to the willingness of literally thousands of others who, often at risk to themselves, stepped forward to offer their services to the NHS and a host of other community-based undertakings.

It has also been a time when humour seldom fails to assert itself during periods of seemingly suffocating weight which shadows us all.

Just recently Sandra asked her daughter “Where is the baby’s meal, darling?” Back came the casual answer- “On top of the dustbin, in the outside shed, cooling, mother.”

Or again, in the printed production of Stations of the Cross for the parishes (which involved a vain attempt to master video technology which resulted in eight hours of frustration and at least four nervous breakdowns) will testify. It ended up in the hands of an avowed atheist, some sixty miles away, self-isolating at home, with only an unintelligible King James version of the Bible to hand. He had to piece this devotional exercise together from a random collection of phone video-clips interspaced by the guest appearance of a puss who was determined not to miss his great break in the cinematic world. This non-believer ended up bent double over an unintelligible religious morass on Maundy Thursday whilst a seemingly devout Christian such as myself, was assailed with the uncomfortable feeling that he, in fairness, should be employed on a purely atheistic activity. The prospect of having a good time, however, was put to one side and I sincerely thank Andy for his skill and patience. Small wonder that his comment on the finished work was that it resembled an extremist video about to culminate in the butchering of a captured hostage barely audible to the listener.

Or, surely to be treasured, was the assertion by a regular attender at Mounton Church to the effect – “Oh golly-gosh!  The church will be closed for many weeks, I find myself already yearning for the day it will re-open and I can luxuriate in the eagerly anticipated content of Julian’s sermon.” I would like to say that this was the gist of it, but, on account of the unprintable language Steve used, it might be better if you were to put an alternative and more pessimistic spin on his utterance.

It is true that humour has no part to play in the Lenten season and yet today, despite the overhanging threat of Covid-19, Easter is precisely the time to feel optimistic and infused with the joy it promises to bring.

In our changed world, we should appreciate that Christ remains with us during the times of stress and fear as much as he cherishes the times when we rejoice and are light of heart.

I offer you, not for the first time, the biblical promises – “I am with you always, to the close of the age” and “Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” In terms of the latter there will be many presently experiencing the former emotion but the preceding assertion gives us cause for hope and know that the first promise is not given in vain.

With this attitude of confidence we remember all in the congregations of our parish churches who contend with loneliness, ill-health or any other tribulation at this time. In particular, I would like to focus on those who should be receiving hospital treatment but are having to contend with the inevitable delay, adding to their anxiety.

Bird song, humour, free time the kindness and unselfishness of others, all this – and more – lift the spirit. These embody the realisation of what Easter signifies – hope.

Such is the message of Easter and I wish you every confidence in its proclamation.