From the Licensed Lay Minister - March 2018

Spring is on the doorstep! We, as an Easter people are looking forward and waiting for one of the major festivals of the church’s year when even the earth celebrates with flowers, birds and the slight greening of Spring.

Lent is seen by some as a penitential season, it seems to be a habit to give up all those little treats which give us a reward at the end of the day — chocolate, a glass of wine or a bit of TV. There is another way of looking at this however, and that is to give up all the things which we do and should not do. l have a friend who gives up exceeding the speed limit for Lent — I'm never quite sure about that - but other things such as passing on gossip or making decisions without hearing all the facts are things we could well do without.

Children today are much less familiar with stories from the Bible than we were as children, so I think that the walk to church with a real donkey on Palm Sunday at Charlton does a lot to make the story more real and memorable for them. Living in the country as we do, we are lucky to be able to enjoy these things and watch our children grow to know the difference between a primrose and a bluebell, while we as adults just have to thank God for the diversity of creation and enjoy the colours, smells and sounds of Spring in the countryside.

The shops are full of Easter eggs of the chocolate variety but I remember as a child dipping eggs in cochineal or tying them in onion skins to produce either red or yellow shells. I think my most memorable Easter was when I lived in Cyprus, where the festival is taken very seriously indeed. My household help invited us to join her on Easter morning on the top of the cliff at daybreak. The children were given bright red hard-boiled eggs to hold and we all waited with an enormous sense of anticipation for the sun to rise out of the sea.

As the light emerged from the waves there was a huge shout of “Christos Annesti" — “Christ is risen"! Everyone hugged each other, the odd tear was shed — it really was a very moving occasion — the children, slightly more pragmatic, began to eat their eggs for breakfast. We piled back into the car and headed for home but that feeling of having witnessed a very special thing remained with us for the rest of the day.

I commend to you a thoughtful Lent, a joyful Easter when it arrives and the wonderful anticipation of watching the English Spring arrive leaf by leaf and flower by flower.

Jo Johnson
Licensed Lay Minister