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Notes from the Benefice Administrator - May 2019

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One of the great things about Easter is that it is a variable feast which is splendidly subversive of the boring regularities of the modern world – every year it is different!

It depends on the cycles of the moon – it comes on the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, which usually falls on 21st March. That means that this year it was almost as late as it can be. The fact that it comes very soon after a full moon emphasises that the heart of the festival is light – a light that overcomes darkness. And this year the weather has been splendidly warm and it has felt more like midsummer than spring. The Christian story is very simple – darkness is overcome by light and death is overcome by life. However awful the world might be, still there is the possibility of new life and a new way of understanding reality. Jesus is raised from the dead as the sign of God’s power to recreate from the devastation of the crucifixion on Good Friday when all meaning seemed to have been shattered.

Easter is the sign that the power of love can conquer the violence and destructiveness of our world – this Easter saw the tragedy of slaughter in Sri Lanka but still we lit our Easter candles and proclaimed the resurrection as a sign that there is a better way. Easter is a defiant stand against the will-to-power and the viciousness of our world. The image that will stay with me this year is that wonderful photo of the light streaming through the windows of Notre Dame illuminating the cross behind the altar in the midst of the charred timbers of the roof – it was a sign of resilience and a sign of hope. Nearer home, our own church was recently vandalised – nearly all the lead was stolen from the roof in what was an act of sheer greed: it’s deeply annoying and we will be out of pocket to the tune of many thousands of pounds and we shall have to do some serious fundraising and pray for good weather on 11 May for the church fete. But still we defiantly celebrated Easter under our tarpaulin and still we prayed that the world might be transformed; still we are filled with hope because we have glimpsed something of God’s transforming love in the power of the risen Christ. The church in our village exists as a living witness to God’s love; often we illuminate the tower as a sign of God’s presence and of the Christian hope. It’s another act of defiance in our often dark world.

The task of searching for a new vicar, which will take the best part of a year, allows us as a community at All Saints and in Garsington and Horspath to go back to the heart of the Easter message and to think about what the church is for and what we can say to our troubled world. How best do we express God’s love in this place at this time? We would love to hear from anybody in the village about what the church here should be doing over the next few years and what sort of person we should be looking for. Do feel free to let me or Robert Wilson have your ideas.
Happy Easter
Mark Chapman