I was talking with an American in London the other week. He was talking about the way in which at Easter, back home, there was a definite trend of Ďgifting Ď. Oh yes, I thought, and what does that mean? Too easily we can use words and phrases that donít mean much to others. I asked a few more questions and what he meant was that just as at Christmas there are presents, so too in recent years in his part of America, the Easter bunny has taken on the role of Santa Claus and there are presents at Easter too! Well, why didnít he just say so!
It doesnít surprise me; each season of the year is well promoted in the shops; if we spend more money on more things the economy doesnít complain. It also prompts the question of how the church communicates its message through the year. At Christmas most people are still aware of a manger somewhere underneath the tinsel. At Easter we attempt not only to tell the story, but live the story in palm crosses, Passover meals and a large cross decorated with spring flowers. The shops offer most things at Easter covered in chocolate. How does the church use this season to communicate the gospel?
Some of you may have had the chance to go on the London Eye or if you can afford it The Shard. On a clear day you get panoramic views of London. On the Eye it is a very gentle ride; you hardly feel yourself moving at all. But after a few minutes the perspective has changed. Having been on the ground you are now in the air and towering above the surrounding buildings and able to see into places like Buckingham Palace at the Queen eating her breakfast! Being above everything gives us a perspective of London which is very different to being at street level. It helps us to see different places in relationship to each other. It is not the only perspective but it is a contrast to the usual view from the pavement. Being over all is something of what the Ascension is about. (May 9th) Of course Jesus meets us face to face in the world on the pavement, but as our risen Lord he is available to everyone and holds us all in his presence. Through the resurrection and ascension we are given another perspective of how everything holds together in Godís purposes. That is what we share as the gospel message all these years later.
The Christian year help us to focus on important aspects of Godís life and relationship with the world. We prepare for them and celebrate them, and if we are true to our calling we live them in our lives.
Love and prayers.