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March 2015
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newlsettersOur duty and our joy
By Revd David Burgess

As Easter falls very early in April (the 5th of the month), I offer some thoughts about this most special of Christian celebrations to take us through March and perhaps help us to prepare.

I don’t usually spend much time immersing myself in the Canons of the Church of England – the rules that determine how the Church governs itself – but I’ve been looking at how they view attending worship at the major Christian festivals. Canon 15b paragraph 1, “Of the Receiving of Holy Communion” reads as follows:

“It is the duty of all who have been confirmed to receive the Holy Communion regularly and especially at the festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun or Pentecost.”

“It is the duty …” There doesn’t seem to be much room for exercising choice in that phrase. On the other hand being dictatorial about it isn’t appropriate and won’t work. How does it apply to us come Easter Day, whether we’re church-goers or not?

I think it goes something like this. Easter is the principal Christian festival of the Church’s year; it reigns supreme simply by virtue of what it is we’re celebrating. If you claim to be a Christian, you’re ‘buying in’ to some of the obligations that go with that status. There’s nothing that’s legally enforceable, even under Canon Law, but there’s a moral imperative. No, you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, but if you are you’ll want to... and you might want to especially over Easter.

One of the prayers of consecration in the Common Worship Communion service describes worship and thanksgiving to God as “our duty and our joy”. For me that simple phrase strikes the balance exactly. We’re called to worship, if we’re right with God we’ll choose to, and if we’re not it’s good for us to do so.

Incidentally, paragraph 2 of Canon 15b states that

“The minister shall teach the people from time to time… that they come to this holy sacrament…”.

Hopefully, job done!

It’ll be great to welcome as many as would like to come to church to celebrate Easter – in spite of what I’ve written so far, you don’t have to take Communion if you attend! But for regular members of our congregation my hope is that you’ll see that Sunday as the highlight of your spiritual year and respond accordingly.

I wish you a joyful Easter.

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