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What is the Good News?

It’s been really encouraging to hear about this year’s Lent Course happening across the parish. I’ve very much enjoyed leading a group at the town centre, and one of the sessions that particularly got me thinking was the one where we exchanged responses to the question ‘Why are you a Christian?’ lasting five minutes, then three, then one.

There are many ways to begin to answer it, as we soon found out when we shared reflections on the exercise within our group. But wherever we start, it seems to me, we have to end up giving an account of the gospel, the good news of Christ.

One of the earliest summaries of the gospel message comes from Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15.3–7: ‘For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.’ Around 30 seconds!

The resurrection is at the heart of our faith, and if we believe in the risen Christ then we should be ready to say something about how we have known him and been changed by him, as Paul was. But as Paul also makes clear here, we can’t separate cross and resurrection in the good news we have to share with the world, nor can we isolate God’s action there from the whole witness to his faithfulness through history. The one who is risen is the same one who ‘died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures’.

That’s why it’s so valuable to be able to share together in the unique and powerful annual services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. I love the Easter celebrations (beginning for some of us on Saturday night, in accordance with very ancient Christian tradition). But if we come to them without having walked once more with the Lord to the cross on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we’re missing something.

It’s also true, though, that to be a Christian is to see and do all things in the light of the risen Christ. We need time to look steadily into that light and ask for it to transform us anew – which is why Easter for the church isn’t just a day but a season, lasting the fifty days until Pentecost.

I’ll miss sharing that season with you this year, as I’ll be away from the parish on sabbatical leave. I’m conscious that I’ll also be absent for some key events, including our Annual Parochial Church Meeting on the morning of Saturday 27 April at Willesborough Church. Do please put it in your diary if you can. We’re taking a different approach this year in a number of ways – more on that in due course!

One thing that will be the same, however, is elections for Churchwardens and PCC members. There will be a number of significant discussions at PCC in the coming year with a bearing on our future development as a family of church communities in this parish, and it’s so important that we have faithful people from all our churches on the PCC who are committed to contributing to that.

May we draw nearer to Christ as we share together in Holy Week and Easter this year, and be ready to hear his call to us today.

The Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen


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