Dear Friends

We have just finished our season of Lent reflection during the month of March, which began with Ash Wednesday on 26th February.   This was a time for deep contemplation, fasting from food and festivities and praying in recognition of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness.  It was also a time for growth in our faith and well-being.

Passiontide and Holy Week, a time of celebration for the Christian church, occurs in April.  We share in Christ’s journey beyond the wilderness from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, His Crucifixion to the Empty Tomb on Easter morning signifying His Resurrection.

If some people were anxious at the beginning of Lent as a result of life choices or unanswered question, then at the end of Lent, we experience a sense of conversion, peace, understanding and acceptance of our circumstances.  They are all facets for preparing us for Easter.

Why is this important?  It is because the resurrection of Christ gives us hope for His return at the end of time. We are also passionate about the words of Jesus Christ to guide us through the challenges of life and yet be happy.

For example, I understand April’s Sweet Pea flower conveys happiness, blissfulness and goodbye.  The other April flower, Daisy, represents innocence, certainty, modesty and conveys good fortune, happiness and pleasure.  Whilst flowers are great, words matter too, particularly, the words of Jesus when it comes to happiness.

Matthew’s Gospel states: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  Other bible translations read: “Happy are the poor in spirit…” and another goes as far as to say “Congratulations to the poor in spirit”.   The word “happy” carries a far richer tone than we commonly attach to the word.  It suggests a deep abiding happiness, not just a temporary emotional lift.

We all want to be happy, and rightly so.  The longing for lasting happiness is a deep rooted instinct within us from God our Father in heaven.  We must also see that it is only God that can make us happy through His redeeming love expressed through the cross and resurrection celebrated during Holy Week.  Someone once said, “Now that I know Christ, I’m happier when I’m sad than before when I was glad”.

I believe our happiness though is being severely tested at present as our nation experiences the sad impact of Coronavirus.  Our first response is always to follow the government health advice to protect ourselves by washing our hands, using a tissue for coughs and avoid touching our face.   Secondly, to cooperate with the Swan NHS Practice, other Doctors’ surgeries, Milton Keynes and other local hospitals and Emergency Services, who we applaud for keeping us safe.   Our third response, as a parish church community in The Claydons, is to pray for (i) all who has suffered and died globally from this virus, (ii) those who have experienced misfortune and (iii) God’s continued protection in and among our village community.  We also share our prayers with our communities nationwide who have experienced the negative effects of the recent weather storms and floods.

I believe that through life’s testing and sadness, we will emerge stronger with a transformed sense of perspective, greater faith and peace, as denoted in Joseph Askina’s timely reminder: “Our real blessings often appear to us in the shapes of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures”.

I look forward to seeing you at our Easter Services listed elsewhere in this magazine.

Stay blessed with love

Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of the Claydons