The Lord is Risen!
He is risen, indeed!
Alleluia! April 4, 2018
Wednesday of Easter Week found me at All Saints Church in Foxtrap with a few of our clergy for a time called, “Celebrating the Easter Season: A Day Exploring Easter Scriptures.” In a letter to the clergy in February I wrote that we have sometimes given more energy to Lent than Easter and this event in April will be an opportunity to reflect together on our Easter journey. All active and retired clergy were invited. I admitted that the timing was not ideal, for many clergy will be tired after Holy Week and Easter, but I wanted to invite them all to a day of reflection if they could come.
The day was led by Canon Dr Susan H. Jones (former Dean of Bangor and Dean Elect of Liverpool) and Canon Professor Leslie J. Francis (Professor of Religions and Education at Warwick, and Canon Theologian in our Cathedral of St John the Baptist). They employed the SIFT approach to biblical hermeneutics (Sensing, Intuition, Feeling, Thinking) to encourage and develop the active conversation between the Word of God and the People of God living and serving within our Diocese. The SIFT approach adopts a systematic way of addressing four questions to scripture: focusing in turn on the details, the big ideas, the values and relationships, and the theological issues.
Twenty-six of us participated in all or part of the day and although I had to step out once or twice to take calls and to meet with one or two visitors, I found the gathering encouraging and inspiring. I am grateful to Leslie and Sue for being with us this week and also grateful to our clergy for their interest and energy. As my former PhD supervisor, Leslie continues to stretch my understanding of religion and faith. Although today he studies religious life from many angles, his research into the psychology of religion is most profound. Years after working under him, Leslie’s deep influence on my life and thinking endures.
A highlight of the day for me was sharing in the community lunch that the Parish of all Saints offers every Wednesday. Served free of charge to all who come, the Wednesday Lunch is a great example of Christian hospitality and Christian faith in action. I enjoy my every visit to “All Saints” and every time I go back I remember a wonderful summer I spent there 31 years ago as a student. The energy and passion so evident then can still be found in that church community. Years after working there, the deep influence of “All Saints” on my life and thinking also endures.
Every now and then in my prayer life I find myself reflecting on all of the influencers of my spiritual journey. Many of those influencers were people, particularly my mother, who taught me all the important things about my Christian faith by the time I was five. Other influencers were teachers and various clergy. Some influencers were books and even movies. Several key influencers were churches, more particularly the faith communities within them, that I was privileged to belong to. On this day I am grateful for all of them, for they each in their own way nurtured the faith at the center of my life.
I encourage you to give thanks to God for those people, places, communities and events that have passed on to you the gift of faith.
And perhaps ask yourself how you have passed on their gift to others.
I end, as I began, with that most an ancient of Easter greetings for Christians: