There is something very special about this time of the year. All around us the signs of nature bursting forth with fresh growth, buds and blossoms are everywhere one turns. The countryside is particularly resplendent with the yellows of dandelions, daffodils and gorse, the soft green of Horse Chestnut and the other early leafing trees putting forth new leaves and the pink and white blossom of decorative shrubs. Even those with little liking for the countryside or gardening are tempted to get out and get stuck in with renewed enthusiasm and vigour!
It is highly significant that in the middle of this renewal and transformation of nature, we celebrate the season of Easter. It too speaks of new life and transformation. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead gave birth to the Christian Church – without it there would be no Church. And it is precisely because of the resurrection that we have the very basis for our Christian hope. Our appointed Gospel reading for the fifth Sunday in Lent from St. John, Chapter 12 verse 24 tells us Jesus said “very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Of course, it can be argued that the grain of wheat does not literally die in the ground but rather it is transformed and in that transformation process it brings forth new life. So also our Christian hope is that when we take leave of our mortal bodies, it is but part of a transformation and in that transformation new life is brought forth in its fullness.
When it comes to transformation, it is hoped that the recent publishing of the Mahon Tribunal Report will bring about a culture change in the way our politician and public representatives do business. Over the years there has been much cynicism expressed in relation to our politicians – and it would appear that that cynicism was indeed justified. However, it would be grossly unfair to assume that all our politicians have been involved in wrongdoing and such accusations are a serious injustice to those public representatives who have always kept the interests of those they represent and the general public to the fore.
Also in need of transformation are some of the current tensions within the Anglican Communion. One of the thorniest of these is the whole are of human relationships and sexuality. Like most other provinces in the Communion, the Church of Ireland has made a contribution to this debate by holding a conference on the subject in the Sliabh Russell hotel in Cavan during early March. Most commentators would agree that even though no conclusions were arrived at, this conference made a small contribution to a debate which is likely to last for a very long time indeed. However, on a positive note, the conference created a forum where people could listen to peoples’ stories, to differing points of view whilst allowing them to express their own particular views and concerns. It is hoped that this spirit of openness and generosity will continue into the future as a demonstration of genuine Christian charity and goodwill. It is only in such practical ways that the Church can ever hope to achieve credibility in a cynical world which is ever watching.
May I wish each one of you the hope and joy of the risen Christ this Eastertide.
With every blessing,
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