The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Vicar's Letter

April 2005

Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

With the passage of time the meaning of words can change. A classic modern example is "gay", which no-one dare use nowadays to speak of care-free happiness. But sometimes the process is much more subtle, and a good example of that is "hope".

Nowadays it seems but a short step from hope to desperation. "We can always hope to win the lottery" we might say, knowing that the chance is so slight that it is not even worth considering. Or the doctor leaves the patient's bedside and the anxious relatives say to one another, "All we can do now is hope", recognizing that the situation is just about hopeless.

When we talk about the Easter hope, however, we are not using the word in that sense at all. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of hope as "a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul", mooring us securely in the assurance of God's love and goodness, and later on he says that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". In the Bible hope is the conviction of an unseen reality, just as we know the sun is still there but behind the clouds on a dark, overcast day. That is light years away from the limp and wishy-washy modern use of the word, isn't it?

The Easter hope is our rock-solid assurance that (as St Paul puts it) "he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies too". In other words, the resurrection of Jesus is something in which, through faith in God, we can all share. When we erected the memorial in the Garden of Remembrance in our churchyard we took the opportunity to have some words of Christian hope from the Bible carved around it. You might like to have a look some time when you are passing.

We all have to face the death of a loved one at some time, and we all have to prepare for the certain fact of our own death. How the Easter hope transforms that prospect! No longer are we looking at an end, but a new beginning. Easter is our assurance of a life beyond death, a life with God in which all we are in this world is drawn upwards and perfected in God's creative love. That's not just wistful thinking: it is the promise and assurance of Jesus Himself. "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." Many of you will have heard these words at a Funeral Service - but take them and hold fast to them for yourself, for they are your anchor-hope.

May this month be a month of new hope for all of you. MALCOLM

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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.