The Lay Reader's Letter (written by Gordon Gray) extends the tradition of the Vicar's Letter which has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Lay Reader's Letter

March 2016

Many of you will know that Coralie, the Vicar at St Mary's, has been on Study Leave since the beginning of January. As a result, it falls to me, the Reader, to write this month's letter from St Mary's. March will be a busy month at St Mary's beginning with Mothering Sunday on 6th March as we remember all that our mothers have done for us. This Sunday will mark Coralie's return, so I hope St Mary's will be packed with worshippers to welcome her home.

A fortnight later (20th March) is Palm Sunday. The congregation of St Mary's will process round the church as a way of re-enacting Jesus' entry into Jerusalem ready for Passover. Jesus would have come into Jerusalem from the east, from Jericho, Jesus had a message for ordinary folk, especially those on the margins of society, about the kingdom of God.

But his probably wasn't the only procession that day. It was standard practice for the Roman governors of Judea to be in Jerusalem for the major Jewish festivals - not out of religious devotion, but to be in the city in case there was trouble. So, on the opposite side of the city, and probably at the same time, there was a second procession coming up from the west. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, entered the city at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers. This would have been a display of imperial power and wealth: chariots, foot soldiers, leather, armour, helmets, weapons, banners, golden eagles mounted on poles, sun glinting on metal and gold. Pilate also had a message for ordinary folk from the powerful - if you mess with us you will face the consequences!

Jesus was a great teacher - he could use the smallest object, like a mustard seed to get across his message - and here he was using the classic teaching technique of 'compare and contrast'. Pilate's procession embodied the power, the glory, the greed and the violence of the empire that ruled the world. Jesus's procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, peace and love for all people.

The question that faces those of us who would be faithful to Jesus today is quite simple. In our modern world, which procession are we in? Are we in the procession of the powerful promoting power, greed and glory, the procession that takes violence against the weak for granted, or are we in the procession which proclaims the kingdom of God, a procession for justice, for peace and for love for all people?

Which procession are we in? Which procession do we want to be in? These are the questions of Palm Sunday and of the following week. The might of empire succeeded in crucifying Jesus - his message could not be tolerated by the powerful. On Good Friday (25th March) we will relive the horror of the death of a Saviour who shares our suffering and experience. But on Sunday we will celebrate the Easter message - the great affirmation that pain and death do not have to have the final word, that God's redeeming love can still bring us hope and joy and pleasure even in the darkest and most difficult times.

And if we catch a glimpse of such resurrection experiences in our own lives then we can proclaim with confidence the Easter message "The Lord is risen - He is risen indeed. Alleluia." A happy and glorious Easter to you all.

Gordon - Lay Reader

Gordon - Reader at St Mary's Eaton Bray with Edlesborough

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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.