CHRIST IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED
As the aeroplane made a rapid and very steep descent prior to landing, one of my grandsons,
then aged 6, cried out in a somewhat melodramatic voice, ‘We’re going down – we’re all going to die!’
I’m not sure if fellow passengers were amused or somewhat alarmed by this cry.
However, he had a point - we are all going to die. Benjamin Franklin is on record as saying that there were
only two things certain in life: death and taxes.
Many of us are not too keen on talking about death, our own or those close to us and, at a personal level,
I can identify with this reluctance. Woody Allen once said, ‘I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be around
when it happens’. But, as a parish priest, it is something with which I’m involved on a regular basis.
On Maundy Thursday I attended a service at Peterborough Cathedral during which three different oils were blessed. The first is known as the Oil of Baptism, the second, the Oil of Chrism (used at ordinations, coronations and also at Christenings) and third, the Oil of Healing. Bishop Donald spoke enthusiastically about the biblical basis for the use of these oils and encouraged us to make full use of them.
The Oil of Healing can be used when visiting the sick in their homes, at healing services and also when someone is near to death. The healing that is prayed for can focus on a restoration of health in the here-and-now, but also healing of the soul in preparation for meeting one’s maker. As a priest,
I find that the anointing of someone close to death is probably the most beautiful and moving gift I can offer.
When I visit the bereaved, following the death of a loved one, I try to help the family plan a funeral that honours the wishes of the deceased and also offers comfort to those who mourn. Sometimes, it can be difficult for those who are grieving to make decisions about whether there should be a
church service prior to burial or cremation, and what hymns and readings to include, if there has been no prior discussion. I appreciate that such
a conversation with a person close to death may be totally inappropriate and so I would like to suggest that we can consider doing this when we are
hale and hearty. Funeral Directors can supply information on planning a funeral, and I am in the process of producing a booklet from the Christian
point of view. This will include a planning sheet where details can be recorded for the benefit of the next-of-kin.
A number of our parishioners have asked to have their funeral arrangement wishes lodged at church, and these are safely stored in the vestry safe.
These wishes can be as detailed or as brief as desired and can be edited at any time. I have to confess I keep changing my mind about which readings
and hymns I would like. I know some people who have suggested that a packed lunch may be needed at their funeral because they can’t decide which
of their favourite hymns they would like included, and so have suggested that perhaps all of them could be sung! And I know of two people who have indicated the speed at which they would like the hymns played!
You may be wondering why I am thinking about death in the springtime, when we are surrounded by new life. I’m writing this letter on Good Friday.
I have just returned from An Hour at the Cross service, so I have been reflecting on the death of Jesus. But I am just about to put the finishing touches
to my sermon for Easter Sunday, when we will be celebrating the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ and all that that means for us. Christ has
conquered death that we may all have eternal life, and so it is perfectly reasonable to be thinking about death and new life during the month of May.
Alleluia, alleluia! Jesus said ‘All who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’ John 6.40
If you would like to have a confidential conversation about any of the issues I have raised, please feel free to contact me, the Revd Ray,
the Revd John Seaman, or one of our Lay Licensed Ministers; we would be happy to meet with you.
Two books, by David Winter, that I can wholeheartedly recommend:
Heaven's Morning: Rethinking the Destination
The Bible - especially the New Testament - has plenty to say about resurrection and heaven, but many Christians struggle to make
sense of what it actually means in practice. David Winter's accessible book explores the biblical teaching on what happens after
death and considers what difference this can make to our lives here and now. He also shows how we can present what we believe about eternity
as a source of hope to our sceptical, anxious world.
At the End of the Day: Enjoying Life in the Departure Lounge
An octogenarian takes a wryly humorous look at what it's like to be old in an era of the relentlessly new. Turning to the Bible, he explores its store
of timeless wisdom, encouragement and reassurance about what it has always meant to grow old and be old. The book is structured around a series
of fascinating biblical pictures, from the legendary Methuselah to the feisty Sarah and the great leader Moses, from the picture of inevitable decline
as the Preacher saw it in Ecclesiastes to the glorious Nunc Dimittis of old Simeon in the Temple. 'At the end of the day' is a well-worn phrase - yet seeing life as a single day, with dawn, noon, sunny afternoon, twilight and then darkness and sleep, provides a sort of contracted chronology of a journey we
are all taking. Those who are at, or beyond, tea-time - as well as their friends and family - may find this book offers an essentially optimistic, positive and attractive picture of both the present and the future.
With love and God’s blessing ~
Revd Christine Tel. 01933 226730; email email@example.com
AUGUST & SEPTEMBER EVENTS
Creative Cards Group: Every Monday 2.00 pm in church, except Bank Holidays
Duke's Court Service: First Tuesday at 2.00 pm
Westlands Service: Friday 15th September at 2.30 pm
Lancum House Service: Sunday 17th September at 3.30 pm
Lunch Club (open to all) : First Wednesday from 12 noon
Little Frogs: Each Thursday at 2.00 pm in church in term-time (starts September 7th)
Ladies Club: 2nd Thursday at 2.00pm
Mothers' Union: 3rd Tuesday at 2.00 pm
but in August combined meeting on TUESDAY 15th at 2.00 pm
MENS CLUB: 1st Saturday of September at 9.00 am - Breakfast in Hall
RIDE & STRIDE : Saturday 9th September
MESSY CHURCH: SATURDAY 9th SEPTEMBER 4.00 - 6.00 pm
26th September: Deanery Synod
COPY DATE for October Parish Magazine: Sunday 17th September