I hope you were able to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. At St Cyprian's we followed our Lord into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and then on through Monday - Wednesday when we reflected upon what I have termed 'the seemingly useless gestures' in the Gospel narratives. On to Maundy Thursday a noble group came to recall the institution of The Lord's Supper, for the foot washing, stripping of the altars and the watch in the garden.
On Good Friday we gathered at the cross and rather like the few that remained with Jesus we were a small group, many had fled. The veneration of the cross is always moving for me as is the singing of the reproaches. We concluded the day with some beautiful musical reflections.
We started our Easter celebrations on Saturday evening with the Easter ceremonies and the first Mass. The Exultate was wonderfully rendered by Fr Jack Noble, from St Marylebone, who also preached. Our Easter Day celebration was made more wonderful by the inclusion of a Baptism.
The central meaning of Easter is not about whether something happened to the corpse of Jesus. Its central meanings are that Jesus continues to be known and that he is Lord. The tomb couldn’t hold him. He’s loose in the world. He’s still here. He’s still recruiting for the kingdom of God. Have you enlisted?
Let me share with you news of a special happening at Westminster Abbey The Festival of Our Lady of Walsingham. Saturday 4 May at Westminster Abbey. Entrance Free please book a space on their website. 11:00am Pontifical Mass; Preacher, The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and Master of the Guardians. 2:00pm A lecture given by Prof Eamon Duffy, Magdalen College Cambridge. 5:00pm Choral Evensong Preacher, The Most Revd Rino Fischella, the Pontifical Council for the promotion of Evangelism.
A special request. Finally, I want to talk about money and this is going to seem a bit like your mother saying “it’s for your own good” as she tips cod-liver oil down your throat. One of the main reasons for being generous is that: giving is good for you! It may be good for the recipient too, but, believe it or not, you benefit most from being generous. You really do. Here is the main reason why: giving breaks the power of money. Jesus is famous for saying, ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.’ (Matthew 6:24). When you choose to follow Jesus you choose a new master. But the old master doesn’t give up control over our lives just like that. Our eyes are often turned as he continues to display his tempting wares. Not least in the realm of money. Jesus, has unlocked the cell door we are sometimes hesitant about opening, walking out and leaving the bars behind. “Giving” is the view through the bars. Giving flies a flag for freedom. Giving jams opens the cell door and coaxes us out. Giving breaks the power of money. Most of us have desired money and things: we have given them our attention, we have orientated our lives around them, we have taken our identity from them. And we’ve also found that money is a deeply unsatisfying idol. But money is spiritually neutral – it’s what we do with it that gives a crystal-clear indicator of the freedom of our spirit, the health of our soul and what has power in our life. So I choose to give. I may still have money troubles, I still have to learn about how to deal with bills and debt and savings. But when I give generously and with joy, the cell door swings open and I can walk in a new freedom where the idols of money and things no longer control me. Why should I give? Because giving sets me free. Because giving is good for me; because giving breaks the power of money. St Cyprian’s needs greater financial support, please. I hear all sorts of reasons why people don’t give; recently I heard someone say, “I don’t give because they will only spend the money”. Please help us to be a healthy church, financially. There is much to be done but if we do not increase our income we sink beneath the financial waves that buffet us.