Vicar's letter

Dear Friends,

Since the beginning of this year, I have noticed an increase in ‘good news’ or ‘happy news’ stories being promoted by the media.  I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise after the difficult and challenging year we have all lived through.  Yet it has long been the case that our national news headlines have focused on the bad or challenging, rather than the good and optimistic.

So, what are some of the good or happy news stories that have been reported in recent months?  Well, there have been incredible efforts in the world of fundraising.  Only last week it was reported that a group of volunteers had raised funds for 2,500 goody bags to be given to staff at Wrexham hospital.  We have heard the story of an 8-year-old boy from Birmingham, who in an effort to just ‘make people smile’, left jokes at the end of his drive for 100 days.  Then of course we have the news stories that are good because they make us laugh.  Many of these are to do with Zoom filters making people – often doing serious things – appear in a very comical way.  We have seen a US lawyer as a kitten, trying desperately to switch off this filter and reassuring the court that he is ‘not a cat.’  Then only a few weeks ago, a Priest who was unware that he was leading his Zoom service with the ‘blues brothers’ filter switched on.

As we celebrate Easter this month, it isn’t just the media that can provide us with ‘good news.’  Indeed, the word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’ which begins with Jesus’ birth.  The gospel of St Mark opens with the words: ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’  (Mark 1: 1).  In between the story of Jesus’ birth and the events of Easter there is much that happens which is good and bad news.  Even though the gospels tell us that Jesus’s ministry and message makes clear God’s saving love for all, and restores people to fullness of life, the voices and forces against him grow stronger culminating in the events of Holy week.  During this week, Christians watch and weep as Christ is arrested, falsely accused, beaten, mocked – even as he dies – and buried.  As we walk away from the cross on Good Friday feeling grief-stricken and broken, we ask ourselves ‘How can any good come from this?’

We are left living with this question until Easter Morning.  The moment we are greeted with the sight of the risen Christ - there is the ‘good news.’  Christ, the Son of God, is risen and his resurrection shows the world the depths of God’s love for us – all of us.  It shows us that God’s promise to Mary that the child born to her would be ‘God with us’ is a promise that reaches beyond this world to eternal life with God. 

It is then this ‘good news’ that we celebrate at Easter and that we are called to share with the world in all of its difficulties, challenges and often bad news, as we join with Mary Magdalene in running from the open tomb and proclaiming to all around: ‘I have seen the Lord.’  (John 20: 18).

I wish you all a very happy and blessed Easter.