This open letter was written by an Anglican Priest, Reverend Iain Taylor, tragically killed in a road accident in Canterbury in September 2021. I’m sure he won’t mind crocuses in Lenten purple: the anthers and stamens are as golden as anyone, bees included, could wish.
Returning home recently from a sick visit, I decided to take the route through the Westgate Gardens. It is some considerable time since I came that way, and I was greatly impressed by the general standard of upkeep throughout the park. The golden yellow daffodils were, at that time, just in bud and there was a profusion of gold crocuses (or should that be croci?) Now it is well known that my plant knowledge is very limited, to say the least, and to me one snowdrop looks exactly the same as any other snowdrop. So I was intrigued to learn from a friend that there are actually over thirty different types of snowdrop – I’m still trying to distinguish them! As I paused to gaze at the flower beds, I was aware of the forthcoming spring; there were signs of new life everywhere.
By the time you read this message, we shall be in the season of Passiontide during which we recall how God allowed his Son to go through the hideous ordeal of crucifixion; a form of execution that was normally reserved for the vilest of criminals. However, it is during this season that we prepare to celebrate the greatest event in the history of the world. It is the season when God breathes new life into his church, just as spring heralds new life in the world of nature. As our thoughts turn to the Resurrection of our Lord, we remember with joy in our hearts that on the third day he rose in glorious triumph from the grave.
We worship a truly living, loving Lord, and Easter is a time when we focus on new life, new opportunities and new hope. Here again the array of those budding young plants in the park comes to mind: the tender spring blooms surely remind us that God is a wondrous God and, as his precious buds, as his body on earth, the Church, we must learn to love and nurture one another, especially those fragile buds who are new in the faith, so that in due time we may all come into full bloom as worthy disciples of our risen Lord.
The most significant change that came over the first disciples after the resurrection was their confidence in Jesus. They realized that, for about three years, they had been in the presence of someone very special. They also realized that what he had been teaching was not just a good idea but THE way to live – the life of love and forgiveness, for them and everyone else.
They followed in his footsteps – trusting when things were difficult – getting things wrong (read the book of Acts to see how!) But in due time those fragile buds blossomed into strong blooms and with the help of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, they set about spreading the Good News of the Gospel, although in some cases it cost them their lives.
The message of Easter is that, just as the spring plants burst into bloom at springtime , so Christ conquered death and burst from the tomb revealing the power, the love and the glory of God in all its splendour.
May the glory of the Resurrection transform our lives that we may become, to use a favourite expression of Archbishop Michael Ramsey, ‘An Easter people’.
Rev Iain Taylor