GOODBYE! But Easter is not the end, but the start of New Life
The great truth of Easter comes to us this month as we declare Christ is risen! Easter is the time of greatest celebration in the church. The empty tomb tells that amid all the changes and chances of life we have a God who really exists and who loves us and wants us to know him through His Son Jesus Christ. This is Good News - the Gospel.
Yet that reality was only possible after the terrible death of Jesus on Good Friday. His death was atoning - he took the punishment we deserved so that we could be reconciled to His Holy Father in heaven. It was something we could not do ourselves, only Christ without sin could. At my induction the hymns sung each had a special significance for me. One -‘We have a gospel to proclaim’ was written by the chaplain of Sharoe Green Hospital in Preston, Lancashire. Both my sons were born there and needed help in the Special Care Baby Unit in the early days. I couldn’t give it to my boys (much as I’d have wanted too) but their expertise meant that they could. The same is true in this passing pandemic. So too, Jesus won for us what we could not - reconciliation with God, eternal life and the chance to proclaim the Good News of Easter in our lives and in worship.
When I came here back in Nov 2014 with Lesley and our dogs I referred to myself in the Bordon Herald as ‘the next Dr Who’ and that regeneration is going to begin again as Lesley and I retire to central Scotland. Our last service will be on Sunday 11th April when we say Goodbye.
2021 takes Lesley and I into our seventh and final year here. Of my 31 years in Ministry, 2020 was obviously the strangest year ever where there were also hellos and goodbyes, but for nearly half of this we were effectively shut for little good reason that I can discern as a scientist. Consequently we learnt how to stream our services on Facebook and to continue to do a lot of funerals. We re-opened after the first lockdown on July 4, the earliest date with full Covid security in place, and in September for our Church centre also. As 2021 gets going we can only hope and pray that the vaccines mean an end to Covid terror just as vaccines did for TB, Measles, and Smallpox.
During the time between Rectors, called an Interregnum (rather too grandly nowadays!) the Area Dean, Rev Jane Walker, vicar of Frensham will work with the Churchwardens and PCC to organise parish business (she is on 01252-792137), but day to day Rev Helen our Curate, and Sam, the parish secretary in the Church Office (see info page for contact details) will with the Team continue services. The process will also begin to appoint the next Rector in a post that stretches back over 700 years.
Finally, I cannot easily express to you that it is with mixed feelings that Lesley and I leave Headley –
it has been over six happy years and the time has flown for us both – even during the lockdowns,
though it went a lot slower then! We have done much to rebuild what was needed in the Church –
both the physical and the material and the spiritual. All Saints I believe has never been in such
good shape. I leave you with the same wardens to make another good choice – they have a good
track record (although my view is somewhat biased).
Please be kind to my successor and welcome them into the fold – we are all passing though for as you know the word parish means a temporary dwelling. I have told the senior staff clearly the way I would want All Saints to develop in the next decade, and I pray they take note – I know Archdeacon Paul will. God in Christ will be leading you. At The Holme School Sarah Stevenson continues as head and thank you to her for all her work here in these difficult times. All Saints looks forward to working with Sarah again in the future.
Finally, in the Bible the Resurrection on that first Easter Day shows us through the Risen Christ that a life beyond death and indeed one that transcends death is possible –God’s Kingdom finally come. God ultimately offers healing to his people, but, in the meantime, life will still hold its share of suffering and tribulation for many. Prayer itself then becomes the means of asking for peace and healing, but the message is still one of hope - that the reality of what Jesus offers us will come to pass soon. I hope to see you at our Easter services and after until we wave goodbye as we move North.
A blessed Eastertide to you all.
Yours in Christ, your Rector