Dear Friends in Christ,
The season of Lent, with its "lent"hening days, reminds us of the coming of wondrous gifts of springtime when the earth returns to vitality after a life-limiting winter. The winter season is the harshest and most difficult in our climate and most of us are quite ready to see the return of spring. These cyclical seasonal realities symbolize the truths of the seasons of our lives. The Christian seasonal calendar also follows similar pulses and reveals shades of meaning as we journey through joys and sorrows, life and death, the natural elements of existence.
Lent is a serious, solemn time representing the hardships of life. It especially turns us to thinking of the sacrifice and discipline required to live righteously (in "right relationship"). As we travel towards the events of Holy Week, we are encouraged to remember the cost of discipleship. Easter reminds us of the reward of that discipline and the gift of new life God holds in store for those who will accept it.
One of the best places to observe the thoughts and beliefs of our culture is the automobile bumper sticker. Here we often find encapsulated expressions of the everyday thinking of secular society. On the back of one car I saw, "Life is hard, then you die." What a depressing representation of human existence. No hope. Nothing beyond what the limits of human powers of mind and body can distinguish. It does, of course, reveal a certain truth, yet from a Christian perspective, and uncomplete one. Life IS hard. There is mourning and many aspects of living bring us great sorrow. As we or our loved ones battle illness, as we mourn the death of those close to us, as we struggle against all the forces that try to take away our life, we can say with certainty — "Life is hard." That is why we need the message of Scripture, God's Word to us. A broader perspective from a distance reveals a higher more optimistic view of our existence.
"Life's hard, then you die ... THEN YOU REALLY LIVE!" Its only after facing the reality of death that we are freed to live as God would have us live. When we die to our sin and all that holds us from being in right relationship with God and each other, we experience the joy and fulfillment Resurrection brings. St. Paul puts it this way, "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:54) This was the truth communicated by the events of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Death and hardship are the door through which we gain a closer relationship with the Creator, through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are invited to share in the victory and the joys of new life to the extent that we are willing to put to death in ourselves that which destroys life. "Alleluia, Christ is Risen" summarizes the Christian perspective of our existence. At Easter we celebrate the joyful result of walking through death to the life God wishes to give to us.
You are invited to join in the Christian symbolic walk through Holy Week to the joy of Easter Resurrection. A schedule of worship is enclosed for your convenience. If you are unable to be present to make your Communion because of illness, please phone the Cathedral Office to arrange for the Sacrament to be brought to you.
Geoffrey Hall, Dean of Fredericton