Dear Friends:

Easter came rather early this year, and we hardly had great weather. But, whatever the weather, the austerity of Lent  ended, hopefully leaving you a little more spiritually thoughtful, and the Easter season heralds something brighter both spiritually and physically, and spirits rise.

A disappointing note: Our Good Friday Children’s service was  poorly attended. I know there are lots of distractions over the Easter weekend, but the message of Good Friday is central to an understanding of Christian faith, so it is a shame if children are not learning about it. Of course, a figure on a cross is not as prettily attractive as an Easter egg or an Easter bunny – but then the Cross was not intended to be a jolly party occasion in that sense. It is, nevertheless, a “good” occasion for us, though hardly in crude physical terms for Jesus. It was good for us because it taught us of God’s love for us, and because on the cross Jesus paid the price of our sin, thus freeing us from the consequences of our estrangement from God. Many learned theologians for centuries have debated the best way of expressing this, but it seems good enough to me to say that Jesus has rescued us. And the new life we have been given is expressed in Easter Resurrection.

However, before we get too gloomy about Good Friday attendance at St Peter’s, let’s remember the  march of witness which takes place in town centres like Crewe and Middlewich on that day. These annual events draw attention to the centrality of the cross in a very public way. Perhaps we should throw in our lot with “Churches together in Crewe” and be part of the drama which unfolds before the eyes of the busy shoppers.

It’s much less awkward when we turn to Easter and talk about all the positivity we associate with Easter (Hope, New Life, overcoming death). Easter services tend to be much better attended. We were particularly well blessed in this respect at St Peter’s this year. A full church! (The same almost was true of the Easter congregation at St Leonard’s Warmingham.)  Yes, Easter is the Queen of the Seasons. But it only makes sense on the back of the Cross. As it happens, the choir sang most beautifully on Easter Day “All in the April Evening” which is essentially about how Jesus, the Lamb of God, went meekly to die.  Perhaps we should sing that more often at Easter.