Archdeacon Carol writes…

Read any good books lately?

Because we tell Bible stories to children the suggestion is that the Bible is an easy book to understand. If that was ever the case it is much more difficult today, because we know so much more, or like to think we do, about what makes the world tick.

One of my favourite books is “Mr Golightly’s Holiday” by Salley Vickers. As you read through, the hidden identity of the main character is revealed. It is an intriguing and daring story about love, loss and loneliness, with the big questions of life and death vibrating throughout.

We have just celebrated Easter and now, in May, we are leading up to Ascension Day and the days that follow with the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Church at Pentecost. We are also getting ready to welcome our New Diocesan Bishop The Rt. Revd Libby Lane at a special service in the Cathedral on 25 May, so save the date! After this service Bishop Libby has planned to visit many different parishes and deanery events during the 10 days of “Thy Kingdom Come”, the Archbishops Call to prayer between Ascension and Whitsunday.

So during this time we follow the story from the cross and the pain, the first Easter morning to a realisation that Christ is among us and known in the breaking of bread.

Of course if the story had been left with Jesus’ death on The Cross, nothing more would have happened, that ending wouldn’t have done! It is the resurrection that allowed the faith of the disciples to live on and carry on the message of Jesus. The resurrections of the past and the future are central in Christian believing. Each is significant in its own way. But each is edged in mystery.

The Biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are a mystery. They can be interpreted in a variety of ways and the encounters of Jesus by the disciples are varied. Sometimes he seemed to be flesh and blood present with them, on other occasions his presence was much more ethereal and hard to determine.

When we think of life beyond death we inevitably speculate. Christian people live with the mystery of faith. On the one hand we affirm God’s supernatural appearance, but on the other hand we are all too well aware that the natural order isn’t usually open to that kind of adaptation.

Faith means that we look to a time when these two points can be reconciled. The first disciples trusted in faith, and because of this they were able to carry the story on. Faith is trust in God with all that we know to be true from the gospel story, and we trust Him with all that we can’t yet understand, and believe that one day it will be resolved.

When we read the Bible either to children or ourselves, especially perhaps the “difficult” resurrection stories, we can look critically; we can also look with the eye of faith and by opening our hearts in devotion to the real message that is inside and pray “Thy Kingdom Come”.

The Venerable Carol Coslett
Archdeacon of Chesterfield

Bishop Libby Writes...

Bishop Libby 3 1500 72 20181215Easter Season, between Eater Sunday and Pentecost, is our time to discover what it means in practice to be a resurrection people. 

The consequences of Covid-19 continue to shape our lives. As we think about resurfacing from ‘lockdown’, we begin to weigh up the far-reaching costs of this pandemic. 

For many those costs will be deeply personal: mourning loved ones, and coming to terms with having been unable to say those goodbyes as we would have wished; coping with real financial difficulty, from redundancy, loss of income, business collapse – perhaps for the first time; recognising the trauma of working through a health and social crisis on the front line; suffering abuse without respite. 

And all of us will face the wider implications: readjusting after the kind of social upheaval not previously seen in peacetime; long term impacts on budgets – from domestic to global, different expectations of government at every level, changes in ways of working, the shifting of focus and priorities.

The Church, our diocese, our congregations, schools and communities – as well as every household and individual within them – will be affected. We have important contributions to make to what comes next. We have a unique perspective, drawn from experience across every aspect of life, the lessons we have learnt. We also have a vital role in responding to continuing need and offering support. 

Everything may have changed – but everything stays the same. We seek first the Kingdom of God; as we pray, learn, tell and serve, we offer good news - being deeply rooted and generously fruitful; we work so that our communities are transformed for good, that we each grow in confidence as disciples of Jesus, that our congregations flourish.

In this Easter season, ‘Alleluia’ is our refrain. ‘Alleluia’ is not blind to reality but deeply rooted in it. Easter day is only possible after Good Friday. Not that we praise God for pain and uncertainty, but somehow despite it. This may not feel possible for some of us individually some of the time. And that’s OK. We are the Body of Christ together. We weep with those who weep, and sometimes the tune of our ‘Alleluia’ song is a lament. But still we sing. For the Easter story is the ultimate reminder that love conquers all - and nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

‘Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.’

The Diocese of Derby

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