March 2018

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

I had the privilege of starting the New Year on retreat with Bishop Philip and a small group of clergy on the Bishop’s Reading Week at Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, North Wales. The book we shared together was called Hanging by a Thread by Samuel Wells.
The summary of the book on the back cover says ‘Hanging by a Thread revisits the harrowing story at the very heart of Christianity. With unswerving courage, elegant simplicity and captivating example, it scrutinises the assumption that the crucifixion was about fixing human problems., and instead suggests it was the culmination of God’s daring purpose to be with us, no matter what. This transformation from ‘for’ to ‘with’ discloses a profound, moving and inspiring vision of what the central event of the Christian faith was truly about.
Samuel Wells considers the risk, cost and suffering of the cross in the light of six key contemporary concerns: the reliability of history, the fragility of trust, the fact of mortality, the search for meaning, the nature of power, and the character of love. He recognises that the cross leaves our easy assumptions and tidy answers hanging by a thread. All sentimental and idolatrous notions of faith must ultimately give way before a God who, despite danger ad disgrace, regardless of how much we deny and reject, gives everything to be with us.
Lent is a time of preparation for the renewal of our baptismal promises at Easter. Holy Week is a pilgrimage that we are all invited to make. During each day of Holy Week we are reminded in different ways of how God is not ‘for’ us but is ‘with’ us, particularly as we receive his body and blood through the sacrament of the Eucharist. It is only through making that pilgrimage that we can fully understand what God went through to be ‘with’ us. Only when we sit with the cross on Good Friday and take in its horror, not rushing to find a solution to its meaning, can we comprehend how God is ‘with’ us. 
I pray that you may walk some of that pilgrimage with our Lord Jesus Christ so that Easter Sunday truly is meaningful as you experience the joy of the resurrection after the pain of the previous days.
Wishing you all a Blessed and Holy Lent and Easter.
Yours, in Christ