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Rev Adam Pawley

The Rector Writes

Alistair McGrath, professor of science and religion in Oxford University, presents in his book, ‘Knowing Christ’, (Hodder & Stoughton, 2001), several ways in which we can each know for ourselves Jesus Christ.

He begins by talking about we can know Christ in our minds, imaginations, hearts and memories. He talks of knowing Christ when lonely, anxious, doubting or suffering. He writes about encounters Christ had with fishermen, a Samaritan woman, doubting Thomas and failing Peter. He explores ways in which we can know Jesus as the bread of life, the light of the world, as the good shepherd and the true vine. He considers the benefits of knowing Jesus Christ as well as barriers to knowing Jesus Christ. He then concludes with ‘How Christ is to be known’.

Here he writes about knowing Jesus Christ as (1) the fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecy, (2) as God incarnate – God came to live amongst us as one of us (i.e. Christmas!), (3) as crucified (Good Friday) and (4) as risen from the dead and ascended into heaven (Easter and the Ascension). I commend the book to you!

April this year brings to us Palm Sunday (Max the donkey is joining us again) Holy Week and Easter (complete with egg hunts). But, Max the Donkey and Egg hunts aside, and bar all the excitement of Easter Day, how will you set aside time this month to focus on the events of Holy Week? How will you yourself set aside time in this week for ‘Knowing Christ’?

Across, Hope, Penyffordd and with the help of our neighbour church, St John’s, Penymynydd, you can make your own journey to the cross, to the grave, and to the resurrection. A full list of services are in the centre pages.

Our new Lent Course, ‘Faith through hymns’, is going tremendously well. We are averaging close to 25 each week. Many thanks to all the work that Pam, Jan and Liz are putting into making this so successful. On Tuesday 11th April (Tuesday in Holy Week) – in our journey to the cross – we will look at Isaac Watts hymn classic, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’. Come and join us!

Here is another idea for Good Friday – one which you can do from the comfort of your own arm chair too. Alistair McGrath in his book, Knowing Christ, in following after the example of Martin Luther, encourages us to try imagining that we do not know Easter is coming. He writes:

Luther invites us to read the Gospel accounts of the passion and death of Jesus, setting aside the knowledge that Jesus will rise again. By doing this Luther believes that we will rediscover the hopelessness and helplessness of the first disciples after the crucifixion’ (p.206).

By doing this, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of Christ’s suffering and love for him, McGrath also discovered for himself how:
The resurrection of Christ offers to us the most powerful reminder and reassurance that we may trust God, even when everything around us is collapsing and we are able to discern God’s presence anywhere. (p.206)

One question that I have been asked several times now as we approach this time of year (by both adults and children) is, “Why is Good Friday called Good Friday?” It is the obvious question to ask of Good Friday, but still it is a brilliant question. It is a strange thing to call such a day Good Friday! What could be good about such a sad and dreadful day?

Christians believe that in giving up his life, in going through all that physical, emotional, mental and spiritual suffering and turmoil that he knew on the cross, Jesus still achieved life – life in all its fullness – eternal life – life that is worth living forever – for each of us. Not necessarily life that is easy! But life where we know that God is with us in the thick and the thin of it all.

Then there is Easter Day. Here we discover just how great God is: God is not dead. There are occasions in ‘history’, when people have given up their lives even to death in order to save another. But this is not God’s story. ‘His Story’ is that “God raised Jesus from the dead… because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). ‘His Story’ is that “God exalted him as Prince and Saviour that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to [all]” (Acts 5:31).

This Easter, why not take time to focus on the death of Christ and imagine there will be no Easter. May we each dare to believe that Jesus Christ loves us so much that He was willing to die for each of us. Then on Easter Day as we celebrate the resurrection may we ‘Know Christ risen’ – completely in our hearts, our minds – and our lives. May we dare to stop trying to understand in order to believe and dare to believe in order to understand.

In Christ,
Adam.

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