April 2024

At this time of year, we are beckoned outside after a long, cold and often wet winter. Spring has sprung and all creation calls us to go outside, to tend to our gardens and to admire the new life around us.

The benefits to our health from time outside are well known. Growing something from a small seed to a flourishing plant or flower requires care, skill and patience which not only brings us satisfaction but also slows us down. Unlike life in the modern world, nothing in nature is instant or immediate – it will not be rushed.

In this Easter Season, our scriptures also draw us outside. On Easter morning, Mary Magdalene finds herself in a garden, outside of Jesus’s tomb, so much so that she mistakes the resurrected Christ for the gardener. There is a vast passage of time between Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden to that moment when, in a garden, Mary realises that it is the risen Christ who calls her by name. Yet now in that garden, Mary and all who throughout the ages proclaim, ‘I have seen the Lord’ are restored to God’s eternal presence.

Maybe then there is something in the Easter Season when the resurrected Christ is ‘made known’ to us that can help us as we – as the Church of today – seek to make him known. Firstly, we need to go outside: to be active in our communities, in our schools and in reaching out to all as we show them the love of God; the God who – through Jesus – calls us by name. And secondly, all of this takes time. There can be an understandable anxiety about the often low numbers of people who come to church. Yet let us never forget that it took time for the good news of Jesus Christ to spread through active discipleship – like growth in a garden, nothing of this was immediate or instant – we need to persevere. As the Declaration of Assent made by all who are being ordained or licenced to a new appointment states, our faith is one that the church is called upon to ‘proclaim afresh to each generation.’

I pray that we can do this; go outside, take time to build relationships with all around us, show to all the love, compassion and forgiveness of God and in doing so Make Jesus Known afresh, to all generations.

Bishop Stephen

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