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A sense of wonder
I always enjoy reading children’s prayers – for their honesty, their straight-forwardness and sometimes (for adults) their unintentional humour. Here’s one which I’ve quoted before – from a young girl who simply signs herself “Ginny”:
“Dear God – please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now. Love Ginny.”
I don’t know how the last half of April and the first half of May is going to work out for you, but from the point of view of the Church calendar it’s a very quiet period, even though it’s given the name of ‘Eastertide’. However, we then have two of the four major Christian festivals – Ascension (on 14th May) and Pentecost (on 24th May) – in the space of 10 days. These might not fall between Christmas and Easter, but I’m sure Ginny would be pleased!
An author named Victoria Cook writes: “Eastertide offers the church a wonderful opportunity to explore… the explosive force of the resurrection of the Lord, a feat that is too vast to be contained within a celebration of one day. Eastertide can also give churches the chance to experience weekly communion for a short period of seven celebrative weeks. And it can reclaim for the contemporary church the historical season known as The Great Fifty Days – the days from Easter to Pentecost.”
Before Good Friday and Easter Day we’re used to a Jesus who was close to his friends and followers; someone who could be approached, touched and dealt with on an ordinary human level, even though he was also the Son of God. After Easter things change. We see a Jesus who can walk through locked doors, who can disguise his appearance and, even though still close to his disciples, somehow has a difference about him.
There’s a puzzle here. What was the point of Jesus’ half-earthly, half- heavenly ministry during those six weeks? He certainly wasn’t just passing time until his Ascension. He was, I think, giving those around him a glimpse of eternity, and the understanding that where he would go they, in turn ,would follow.
The disciples were given a true taste of Heaven on earth. It was the same Jesus, but a Jesus who was doing profoundly different things and preparing them not only for their future on earth, but for their eternal future.
I always find that there’s a sense of wonder about the stories that describe this period in Jesus’ life. They don’t show just a gap needing to be filled; rather, they depict one of the most fascinating parts of the whole New Testament. I hope that, if you come to Church during this period, or if you look at the episodes I’ve described, that you, in turn, catch some of this intrigue as well.
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