April 4th 2021
As the sun has now set I can ‘officially’ convey to you with joy the traditional Christian greeting: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia.”
I share this message during the continued difficult times in the lives of many people, churches and indeed nations. This year, we observe Easter for the second time in a challenging context amid a global pandemic. Many people are still experiencing fear and uncertainty, as well as trauma, separation, isolation, loss of hope, or sickness and death in their families or in their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the whole world, is also affecting the way Easter will be celebrated again this year. Some people will still choose to celebrate Easter again and will meet with the Risen Lord “behind closed doors” (John 20,19-20).
However, this year Elstow Abbey will be open and we will celebrate our Risen Lord with Holy Communion at 10:00am on Sunday. Yes it will be different… we will still observe the required social distancing and wear masks in a shortened service. We still will not be able to join together and sing our hearts out or stand around afterwards socialising with drinks and Easter treats. But the church is decorated, the flag is flying, the bells will ring out, the organ will sound forth and we will worship our Risen Lord the best we can.
All being well, and if the technology behaves, we will also live stream the service to our Facebook page and upload it later in the day to our YouTube Channel.
Yet, despite these frustrating and painful situations, the message of Easter shines. The Risen Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Easter is a reminder and encouragement that God in Christ continues to love and care for the whole world, overcoming death with life, conquering fear and uncertainty with hope. The tomb is empty; Christ is Risen!
Throughout the centuries, the Easter greeting ”Christ is risen!” has always infused Christians with the power and courage to confront death, destruction, oppression, end enslavement, fear, doubt and uncertainty. As we are confronted today with the continued challenges of COVID-19, I assure you that we are united in prayer with our fellow Christians around the whole World and in affirming together our common faith and hope in the Risen Lord: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55, 57).
“Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
Next week (11th April) we will return to a 9:00am & 10:00am Holy Communion with a Zoom coffee and catch-up and online Sunday school. There will also be the return of the ‘Reach-out’ notice sheet. We will continue to monitor the ever changing regulations and respond the best we can.
Have a happy and hopeful Easter.
Rev’d Fr. Paul Messam
Priest-in-charge of the Elstow Abbey and Elstow Team.
Assistant Area Dean of Bedford
Bedford MK42 9XT