From the Associate Priest - April 2021

Dear Friends,

june l sToday with my Lent Group, the subject of what people believe came up. Most of us had strong convictions about what we believe but, as one of the group pointed out, so many people today are ignorant of the Gospel stories and so their beliefs are not based on Christian teaching. It is true that many schools, apart from Church schools, today do not actually teach Christian Education. If Religious Education exists on the Syllabus it will be multi faith and often include moral, civic and even philosophical elements. Assemblies seldom have Bible Readings or hymns, schools have become rather secular places.

Part of Christian teaching includes our relationship with God and one of the ways in which any relationship is fed, is by communication. So how do we communicate with Almighty God. One very good way is to pray. In Christian assemblies, children regard prayer as a normal activity and it is a lovely thing to see and join, you know the children are praying with you because most of them have their eyes shut and their hands together. Putting our hands together with the fingers pointing upwards is a traditional action recognised as prayer.

hands sOne of the most famous Christian works of art is Albrecht Durer’s ‘Praying Hands’ (shown on the left) - a simple pen and ink drawing of a pair of hands in the attitude of prayer. The drawing is a preparatory sketch which is part of an Altar piece. If you study the drawing, you will see that the hands are not beautiful, delicate, ladies hands. The knuckles are somewhat pronounced, some of the fingers not quite straight, the veins on the back of the hands protuberant, the skin dark and the nails short. Many see them as hands which are used to doing a day’s work.

I was fascinated when I discovered this story about Durer. He was one of two sons of a working goldsmith in Germany in the late 15th century, both talented like their father, but both poor as was the whole family. Then, as now, education at the level they needed to study was expensive so they made a sensible pact. One brother would go to the Academy and the other work to support him for the four year course. On completion of that time they would reverse their roles, they tossed a coin to decide who would do which first and Albrecht won the toss, he was the first to study whilst his brother took the best paid job around, in the local mines.

Albrecht studied and produced work which immediately won him great acclaim. By the end of his four years, he was already a celebrated artist, but he honoured the agreement and returned home ready to support his brother Albert whilst he studied. At the celebration dinner that night, Albert revealed the true cost of his honouring the agreement - the years had left his fingers crooked, rough and some even broken. Executing fine art was no longer possible for Albert. A legend grew around the drawing that Albrecht had used his brother’s hands as the model, a lovely story if true.

I wonder what prayer means to you and if, as you read this, it reminds you of how seldom you manage the exercise! I know I find it challenging to write this! For some, prayer is just sometimes sending off an express request at times of particular need; for some, it is reciting the thoughtful words from many of our traditional services. For others, it may be periods of peace and quiet when you think about what matters in your life, whilst for many it is the conviction that God is always with us so we can talk to Him any time we wish.

Whatever way you pray, do pray. Easter reminds us that Almighty God loves us and the our Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life so that all of humanity could be reconciled with God.

Our churches are all opening again for Easter. On Good Friday, we shall remember that sacrifice with an hour of quiet meditations and music, whilst on Easter Day itself we shall celebrate the triumphant Resurrection of Jesus. it is a wonderful time, a time to rejoice and be glad, do come along and join us.

Have the most wonderful Easter whatever you do, and God Bless you all.

June Lane