Pastoral Letter March 2016

Jesus Christ … declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead   – Romans 1.3-4

Dear Friends,

Easter is very early this year, and before the month is out, it will have come and gone. Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury is on to something in his desire to get the date fixed every year! Of course, we celebrate Easter every Sunday — it is the Lord’s Day — but I feel that we should be thankful that there is yet, on our land, some awareness of the ‘Church Calendar’ and of Biblical events. So we seek to make the most of the opportunity, and to bring the events of those New Testament days into the hearts and minds of our family, friends and neighbours.

Do we realise quite how powerful the Resurrection is in terms of our witness? I trust we all grasp the centrality of the cross of Calvary, the substitutionary and atoning death of Christ in place of undeserving sinners, and I hope we could all explain the cross very simply if asked. But so often, folk don’t see the relevance of Jesus Christ, and His death, in the first place. There is no longer much of an awareness of sin, of personal wrongdoing, or of anything being owed, by us, to God.

At ‘The Garden Tomb’ in Jerusalem, the text above is displayed opposite the tomb. No absolute claim is made that this is the site of Calvary and the Tomb, but your guide will tell you ‘what DOES matter is that here, or very nearby, Jesus Christ really died and rose from the dead’. The Resurrection is the seal of God the Father upon the work and witness of His Son. When others question the Christian faith, you can leave them with one question, which they may answer at their leisure, but they must answer — Did Jesus rise from the dead, or not? If not, then we are wasting our time. But if so — then everything is different. To the honest enquirer, the evidence is overwhelming: Christ is Risen. He is declared to be the Son of God with power, through the work of the Holy Spirit, by the Resurrection. What is the point of all that I’m saying? It is this: We need to talk about Calvary, but we need to press, again and again, the reality of the Resurrection. It will build our faith, encourage us in every part of life, and be a mighty weapon as we seek to witness!

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