A letter from the Vicar
It’s still Lent as I write, but you will be reading this in Eastertide. The change in mood from the solemnity and sparseness of Lent (when the church is draped in Lenten array) to the joy and abundance of Easter is the most striking move in the Church’s year, and every year it lifts my heart. I hope many of you will have been able to join us for the Holy Week services that take us through this great drama.
This year we have another reason to celebrate, because four adults in our congregation are being confirmed, alongside over 100 other candidates, at St Paul’s Cathedral on Holy Saturday. We decided this year not to hold a confirmation service in St Mary’s because we don’t yet have our new Bishop of Edmonton. It is a wonderful opportunity to feel part of the whole diocese by joining in the Easter liturgy at the mother church. Many congratulations, with our prayers, to Caroline Hepker, Mark Parry-Wingfield, Britt Quinn and Perapat “Tam” Sasikan. Caroline’s daughter and Mark’s son will be baptized during the 10.30 service on Easter Sunday, helping us all to focus on the baptismal significance of the Resurrection.
The recovery of the centrality of baptism in our lives is one of the great theological developments of the past couple of decades. If, like me, you were riveted by the coverage of the reinterment of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral, you will have heard the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster speaking about the significance of Richard’s baptism. It means we don’t have to (and must not) attempt to judge him as a villain or revere him as a hero; we simply lay him to rest as a fellow sinner and a brother Christian, a member of Christ’s family and, we pray, a recipient of God’s forgiveness and grace.
As we all renew our baptismal vows in the liturgy of Easter morning, we are reminded of our calling. Baptized laypeople are not simply subscribers in a club of which the officers are clergy. Through our baptism, all of us share in the priesthood of Christ. Joining in God’s mission is the task of the whole people of God. Every Sunday the Eucharist ends with the dismissal: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Our “service” begins as our worship ends. We greet newcomers, repair relationships, and then go out the doors to our families, homes and workplaces, embodying Christ in the world.
The Bishops of the Church of England have reminded us that we are all responsible for seeking to serve the Common Good, and that in an election year this duty is especially serious. How we choose to vote must be based on our own prayerful discernment of how the Common Good is best served. But it is clear that our Christian duty is to take part in public life and cast our vote.
To be a baptized person is to partake in relationships: with the risen Christ, with one another, with everyone who is in need. No Christian is an island. We need to meet together in order to pray, study, discuss, share fellowship, receive Holy Communion and serve our neighbours. Eastertide is a good time to rejoice in this calling to share in the joy of the Resurrection. I wish you all a blessed and happy Easter!