At long last, after the long, dark nights of winter, we have reached the point in the year when there is once again more daylight than darkness. Indeed, next weekend we will put our clocks forward and the evenings will suddenly seem remarkably bright. For many of us, these signs of hope of the warmer summer months to come help to lift our spirits and motivate us to use our time more creatively and productively, perhaps getting out into the garden to prepare it for the coming season.
We have recently touched on the fact that the government’s planned roadmap out of lockdown gives us signs of hope for a new season ahead of us, so this year more than most, the hope of the lengthening days of spring speaks to us on multiple levels as we look forward to gathering with friends and family once more, in whatever numbers are deemed to be safe.
We are probably all familiar with God’s ancient message through the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Israel, saying ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
It is often used as a word of encouragement to those who are going through tough times, as indeed we all are. And although the promise was specifically for the exiled people of Israel at that particular time, it does reveal the heart of God to bless his people. A heart that is most fully expressed in the Easter story, as Jesus’ death and resurrection made it possible for our broken relationship with God to be restored and for us to have the hope and promise of a future with God both in this life and in the life to come.
By the time we reach Easter we hope to be able to resume ‘in-person’ services, albeit with the same limit on numbers that we had during the autumn. However, the sort of large-scale joint services and acts of witness that we normally hope to hold with other churches at Easter will not yet be possible. Instead, Churches Together in Windsor has arranged for a set of 14 ‘Stations of the Cross’ to be erected throughout the town, displaying artwork by Ken Cooke, along with suitable reflections and prayers. There will be a different prayer station outside each church, and they will be displayed from now until Easter Day as a sign to our town and its communities of the Christian hope we have in Jesus, and as a resource to help us to pray for those in need of the hope that God offers us all. So if you walk, run or cycle locally as part of your daily exercise, why not plan visits to the different churches, pause to read the reflections and to pray? If you are not so active, watch out for the leaflets that we will circulate and for a YouTube video that will be posted on our web site so that you can use the resources from the comfort of your home.
Either way, this Easter time, and as we continue to navigate our way out of lockdown, let’s pray for our neighbours and for each other to know the hope and future offered to us through the gift of Jesus.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline