At last I can officially wish you a very happy and blesséd Easter! Up to now I have been wishing you or praying for you ‘when it comes’. Well, it has come but it hasn’t gone.
The Church treats the eight days following Easter Day as an ‘octave’ ending on Sunday the 28th, the octave day. Octave in church terms means that each day of that period constitutes a single day, so each day is Easter day.
There are only three ‘Octaves’ kept in the Church these days, (since 1955), Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. There used to be many more.
Moreover, the church then celebrates the ‘Easter Season’ which lasts for 50 days until Pentecost (the coming and outpouring of the Holy Spirit) having celebrated Ascension Day on the 40th day of Easter.
During the great 50 days of Easter Tide, the theme of the church is of course the resurrection of Jesus, and the conquering of sin and death to the New Life in Christ.
But it doesn’t end there. Each and every Sunday of the Church’s year is the day of Resurrection celebrating the rising of Jesus and his Glory in Heaven. That’s why the church moved the sabbath day from Saturday, the last day of the week (symbolising God’s rest), to Sunday the first day of the week, the day of Resurrection and the New Creation.
As Christians we have an obligation to join our brothers and sisters, The Church as the Family of the Lord, for worship and to receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood on every Sunday (the day of resurrection) at least.
Although there is tremendous pressure on families and everyone in our current society our priority as Christians must be “God first” that also means “Eucharist first”. We wouldn’t be appreciated by our earthly families if we refused their invitation for some other pressing thing.
We have to remember the Parable of the Banquet (Luke 14:15-24). How many good reasons can we find to say to the Lord “I cannot come!” We have an 8 o’clock Eucharist on Sundays, and often people come to that if they have to be somewhere else at 10.30. In an ideal world we should also provide a Saturday evening Eucharist after 6.00pm which would count as a Sunday Communion – perhaps when the new vicar comes? If everyone on the Electoral Roll came to Church regularly, the Church would always be full!
On Thursday 2nd May in Chichester Cathedral, Graham, Lisa, Jayden and Harriet will be Confirmed by the Bishop of Chichester. I do hope others from our Church Family will be able to come and support them with our prayers and love.
When we are baptised, we are also anointed with Chrism, by the Holy Oil being ‘poured’ on the crown of the head. This is the indelible ‘sealing’ of the Holy Spirit following the Baptism by Water.
When we are Confirmed, the anointing takes the form of the Sign of the Cross, representing the indelible mark of Christ’s sacrifice on the soul of the one being confirmed. Called by Christ to follow Him, Christians “preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23), not only through their words but through their actions.
A little more on the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in another ‘Parish Letter’ maybe!
With my love and prayers,
Fr. Ray Whelan