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Hope all of you had a great Easter filled with hope, fun and food!

Here’s a little rundown of news items from around Christendom from the weekend:

  • Queen gives Maundy Money to 107-year-old: On Holy Thursday, the Queen continued a centuries-old tradition of giving Maundy Money to pensioners.  Among the 166 recipients in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was Kathleen Grimwood, a retired schools matron.  You can see pictures from the day here.  The English monarchs also used to wash recipients’ feet, although James II stopped this part of the tradition in the 17th century.
  • The Pope washes priests’ feet in Rome: Pope Benedict XVI washed the feet of several priests in a Maundy Thursday ceremony at St John Lateran in Rome.  The Pope urged the priests and congregation to remember ‘our brothers and sisters who need our help, who are awaiting our word and our action’.  Collection money from that evening is going to the small Catholic community in Gaza, which the Holy Father will visit next month.
  • The Bishop of Durham says Church must ‘stop trivialising Easter’:  The Right Revd Tom Wright says the true meaning of Easter is obscured ‘because the Church has trivialised it and the world has rubbished it’.  He also notes that since the days of the Enlightenment we have fallen into the trap of thinking ‘we can bring justice and beauty to the world all by ourselves’.  (An excellent read from a Biblical and historical perspective.)
  • Earthquake survivors hold open-tent Mass: Italian earthquake survivors in L’Aquila were able to go to confession and hear Easter Mass thanks to the efforts of priests and monks caring for the spiritual needs of the nearly 40,000 people left homeless. 
  • The Obama family attends church: President Obama and his family attended Easter Day service at St John’s Episcopal Church — ‘the Church of the Presidents’ — near the White House.  In his sermon the Rector, the Revd Luis Leon, stressed the need for ‘truth’ over ‘a pathological desire to doubt’.
  • The Right Revd Vincent Nichols says we are ‘raised to new life’: The soon-to-be Archbishop of Westminster emphasised that the Easter message is for all of us. He said, ‘These words apply to you and to me! They apply to every person. This is the greatest miracle of Easter. The risen life of Christ is to be shared with all people! This is what God wants to achieve. This is the real point of the project of the coming of the Eternal Word of God in the flesh of Jesus.’
  • Pope Benedict’s Urbi et Orbi address speaks of the relevance of the Easter message: The Holy Father said, ‘The proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection lightens up the dark regions of the world in which we live.  I am referring particularly to materialism and nihilism, to a vision of the world that is unable to move beyond what is scientifically verifiable, and retreats cheerlessly into a sense of emptiness which is thought to be the definitive destiny of human life.  It is a fact that if Christ had not risen, the “emptiness” would be set to prevail.  If we take away Christ and his resurrection, there is no escape for man, and every one of his hopes remains an illusion.  Yet today is the day when the proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection vigorously bursts forth, and it is the answer to the recurring question of the sceptics.’
  • Swedish parishoners build Lego Christ: Using 30,000 Lego blocks, members of the congregation of the Oensta Gryta church 70 miles from Stockholm built a life-size statue of Jesus Christ, which is on permanent display in the church.  The statue took 40 volunteers 18 months to assemble.  

daffodils-wwwreggienetWe’ve had a fabulous Spring here in South East England.  Yes, it rained over Easter weekend, but prior to that, the sun shone for a week. 

Flowers are everywhere — daffodils, tulips, cherry blossoms, violets, magnolia, camellia, periwinkle. The mornings are filled with birdsong.  Bumblebees hum away. How anyone can doubt God’s presence in this beauty amazes me. 

It reminded me once again of Robert Browning’s ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’:

OH, to be in England now that April ’s there
And whoever wakes in England sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough         
In England—now!

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