The Bradley Stoke Easter CrossApril 7th, 2020
The below article was written by Rev Paul Hinckley, Vicar of Bradley Stoke, in mid-March for our April edition of Bradley Stoke Matters.
In the light of our current international climate, the stark Christian image of the cross, placed each year on the Patchway [Bradley Stoke Way / Brook Way] roundabout will be one of my lasting memories of my time in Bradley Stoke. As I recall this cross – with it’s red swathe of cloth on Good Friday and white sheet on Easter Sunday – I’m again drawn to the reason that Christians highlight this symbol as central to our faith in God and our hope that in the midst of death, there is hope of new life.
I say “lasting images” as cross on the roundabout it will be one of my parting images as I leave town for a new post just after Easter. Like many church ministers, my time in Bradley Stoke has been relatively short, but as Jonah found in the record of his life in the Bible – it’s best to listen to God first time round and follow his lead.
We live in a climate of international fear, uncertainty and the genuine threat of death in our midst. Whilst Covid19 has not physically hit our town yet, I’m writing this whilst playing a part in making contingency planning arrangements for our churches and community groups. You, our readers, may be some of the many people who are fearful. Not surprising when our daily news is inundated with real life stories of families facing fear, death, hardship, uncertainty, financial pressures, health worries, family tensions. It’s not good news.
Hence I’m drawn to put the spotlight on the Christian symbol of the cross, signalling the Christian claim that Jesus paves the way for new life – good news of hope amidst the shadow of death. This is good news – the best news we can imagine – that fear will not win, that death is not the end, that new life is beginning. The white cloth on the cross on Easter Sunday is a symbol of this hope – faith in Jesus brings a promise of new life beyond the threat of death. Christian faith believes that, as we live in the light of Jesus overcoming death, our lives are transformed, made new. It’s a big claim, but many know it to be a true and liberating experience.
It’s in the light that I recall some amazing people in Bradley Stoke – people who have [started to] overcome their hardships, worries, fears, uncertainties, dreadful experiences by trusting God to transform their broken lives and make them whole again. It’s been a privilege to see deep sadnesses transformed into a growing hope-filled joy.
In our present climate, we have time and opportunity to ask ourselves “how do I want to live?” – a time to re-assess our priorities. No-one is wholly protected from the invisible enemy of the Covid19 virus – and we will all be wise to take the physical advice from our governments and medical experts. But we can receive protection from fear and despair, from selfishness and exaggeration, from succumbing to false hopes that pitch us into cynicism and despair. If that’s a choice you are looking to make as the cross of Easter is pitched again over our town, you might like to join with Christians across the land and across the nations in praying like this [borrowed from the Church of South India]:
God our Father, by whose mercy
the world turns safely into darkness and returns again to light:
we place in your hands our unfinished tasks,
our unsolved problems, and our unfulfilled hopes,
knowing that only what you bless will prosper.
To your love and protection
we commit each other and all those we love,
knowing that you alone are our sure defender,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Paul Hinckley, Vicar of Bradley Stoke
[Christ the King and Holy Trinity]
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