Parish News – 22 April 2022

Keeping you connected with your parish and community…

from our Team Rector, Peter Reiss

Easter continues for 50 days until Pentecost. This comes as a surprise to some who
presume Easter is over when the eggs are eaten. The reason for the 50 days is the gap
between the Jewish feasts of Passover and Shavuot, both of which had harvest origins, but
which also came to include more profound memories, Passover of Liberation from Egypt and
Shavuot the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai. For Christians the Easter story continues through
to the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit, which happened at Pentecost.

Jewish children are often rewarded with sweets if they learn the Scriptures on Shavuot. The
psalms suggest God‟s Word is sweeter than honey, it is a light to give us clarity on our
paths, it is a delight.

One of the great darknesses in the history of the Church has been its anti-semitism, and the
view that the Law in the Old Testament was somehow bad and Jesus freed us from it, that
Jews were bad, and Christians are better. Jesus was a Jew, he was circumcised as a
Jewish boy, he grew up with the rhythm of the Festivals, he taught in the synagogues,
clearly a respected teacher, who upheld the Law but interpreted it through the deeper values
and principles. It was this that got him into trouble with the establishment.

What is true, and it is true of churches, is that what started as a guide and a help became an
end in itself, with ever more particular interpretations, and even an idolising of the object
when it should rather be a lens through which we see God. Churches too can become
trapped in traditions that may have been good, may even still be good, but are not
necessary, and can become burdensome.

In the seven Sundays of the Easter season we reflect on the wonderful, joyous encounters
that the risen Jesus had with disciples – not heavy teaching sessions, but meals,
conversations, the offer of peace. The risen Jesus has a lightness of touch about him, a lifegiving quality, we might say a radiance. Some of us may be trapped in a more legalistic
approach, an overly dutiful approach and we need to be reminded of the joy of the Lord. The
risen Jesus however still gave instructions, direction to his disciples. The key word
throughout the gospel is “Follow” and some are not so keen on that, we prefer to bob in and
out as it is convenient to us. We should not be caught in either legalism or casualness –
Dance is joyous and “free” but it is also disciplined and takes practice and intention. So
should our walk with God be.

The light-giving, life-giving joyous risen Jesus calls on those who have found him to go and
live in the way he calls, not just the way we want.

As we move from Easter to Pentecost, from Passover to Shavuot, we need to remember
what we are set free for, as well as what we are set free from; we should delight in the
directions of God, guided by his Spirit and through the Word, the rich, „God-breathed‟
collection of writings, a symphony of praise, wisdom and teaching, and yes we can have
some sweets if we have learnt some more, why not?

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