To the people of St Barnabas

In this season of Easter I want to thank you for the different ways you are being Christ's people of love and hope to one another and to the wider community. As we continue to live these strange days, I am reminded of the first disciples, who certainly knew what it was to live with the unexpected.

As you know, we had been planning that Sarah Todd would have a clear ending as curate and then return to be licensed and installed as your new Vicar and Priest-in-Charge of Matson at a wonderful service attended by many. However, plan have had to change.

Having consulted with Archdeacon Hilary and the churchwardens, I am keen that sarah takes on the authority of incumbent as soon as possible and so on Monday 27th April, I will be licensing her over Zoom from my home. The churchwardens will also be present from their own homes. It will be a very short and simple event so that the legalities are covered. We will then look forward to a significant service at St Barnabas when we are all able to return to our church buildings. That service will be all about welcoming Sarah as vicar within the context of celebrating the ministry of the whole worshipping community as you continue to live out your baptismal calling to follow Christ.

Please hold Sarah in your prayers as you continue to support and pray for one another. Please be assured of my prayers for you".

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"Are we witnesses to the Resurrection?

Have we experienced divine intervention?

I have often heard people say that they have experienced an angel, a messenger from God...but it's all the same, it's all from God. If the Queen sent us a personal telegram, we would not be disappointed just because it came through the postman or a messenger. Your experience had come with direct authority from God, or just a coincidence, you may believe. But I was once told a coincidence is just an incident where God wishes to remain anonymous. He delights in joining us, like the two followers, hearing us, working out His ways and building relationships with us.

The warmth they felt in their hearts is a common phenomenon. It was enough to convert John Wesley to believe in Jesus, forgiveness of sin and eternal life. When Jesus shows up, warms our heart, we know it's Him, as did Cleopas and his friend.

They shared their experiences as soon as they reached the disciples. It's difficult to keep news of Jesus participating today, to ourselves. It is exciting, especially in these difficult times. We have the hope of Christ, something valuable we can pass on.

I was once told as Christians we do not fear. I don't believe it frees us from fear. I'm glad I have fear, it enables me to take an alternate route where there's a sleeping lion. It prevents me from walking out in front of cars. We need a healthy amount of fear to survive and at present, we have plenty of reasons to fear for the safety of loved ones.

As Christians what we have is faith.

We have courage which is the ability to step into situations where fear is present, knowing Christ is with us to the end.

We have hope, the hope of the resurrection, knowing there is no end.

So let's share our experiences of Christ. He will be joining in and listening as we walk our Emmaus road together as witnesses to the resurrection of Christ."

#makeitblue #prayforourheros

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"Do not be afraid" is a phrase that occurs twice in just 10 verses from the gospel of Matthew. It is said (I haven't yet counted!) that the phrase or similar words occur 365 times in the bible - one for each day of the year!

This Easter, many people are afraid; afraid of getting unwell, afraid for their loved ones or afraid of what the future might hold. How can we celebrate this Easter with integrity, surrounded as it is by the challenges of a pandemic and the very real fear that goes with it?

Well, I suggest that we go back to that first Easter...the first Easter when Jesus rose from the dead. No one was there when it happened - other than an angel or two.

The guards were so fearful they couldn't understand what had happened. The first two followers of Jesus to hear the news were also terrified - as we read Mary and Mary greeted the news with both fear and joy. Jesus' other followers were huddled away in a locked room, fearful and despairing.

What the first Easter shows us is that Jesus will meet us in times of fear and challenge in the same that he does in times of happiness and celebration. The cross stands above it all - that place where despair becomes hope, mourning becomes celebration and death becomes life.

We can in complete integrity proclaim Hallelujah, Christ is risen...because it is true. Our voices may waver a little, we may still feel safer behind closed doors - but Jesus will meet us in His risen life all the same.

Like our Family Choir sang this morning "Risen! He is risen! Hallelujah!"

Let us respond - "He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!"

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