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Outcome from 'On the Third Day'

On the Third Day: ­ this was the title of the Lent course followed by a group of 14 people during Lent.  The course is from an organisation called ‘York Courses’ and follows the pattern of readings set out in a course booklet, with a number of possible questions for each of the 5 sessions.  This was accompanied by a CD with observations from a varied group of well known Christian thinkers.  For this course the thinkers were:

            Bishop John Pritchard; Rt Revd Tom Wright; Prof Paul Vallely; Revd Ruth Gee,             Rt Revd Libby Lane

 We had planned to meet over 5 weeks, but snow caused one week to be postponed. However, in the 4 sessions we had, the discussions were lively as we debated around the following areas:

 What is the evidence for the resurrection? We concluded much depends on faith, but we do have ‘The empty Tomb’, ‘the Resurrection Appearances’, ‘The transformation of the disciples’ ‘The development of the church and what was said about Jesus’. Whilst this is a very complicated topic, we felt our role was to make it as easy as possible to understand and for us, as disciples, to explain things as well as we could. 

  • The next discussion was based on ‘So What? The implications’. This was more challenging as it involved a great deal of Theology.   But, making things more basic, the Resurrection was the vindication of Jesus – the proof that He was the Messiah and that he defeated death and as the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has said, ‘He is alive and in the world today’  As Easter people, the suggestion in the booklet was that instead of a usual greeting, like ‘Hi, how are you?’ we should greet each other with ‘Christ is risen’ with the response ‘He is risen indeed, Alleluia’
  • We moved on to the more personal side of Easter – what is our personal discipleship in the light of the resurrection? How can we live out our faith? In Colossians 3.12 we are urged to ‘clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility…’  But just how do we do that?   We thought, by trying, by forgiving others, by being thankful during dark times and well as happy.  We must use our different gifts as best as we can - and help and support each other.  We need to remember that we may not always receive the answer we want when we pray!
  • The fourth session encouraged us to celebrate Easter and to use the joy of Easter as a way of praying. However, the discussions centred on 3 questions: Why do so few people outside the Church understand Lent?             Why do we pray?       

                  Why is Easter so short and why don’t we have bigger celebrations and more                          publicity? This lead to an animated discussion with all agreeing that we need more explanations, better ‘marketing’ and things like posters up outside the Churches.  It lead to the development of a Easter Card, to be distributed to all households!

  • The final session is all about ‘A risen Church’ – a Church that looks like Easter – whilst accepting that there are many different kinds of Church, with a wide variety of services. Some like traditional, some like ‘high’ church and others prefer informal services with worship bands. But everyone wants to know Jesus better.  John Pritchard gives us the challenge by writing ‘cherish the risen Christ with serious joy from a deep place.  I’d like us to be a Church that glows in the dark’  The question being ‘Is your church life-giving and full of joy – does it ‘glow in the dark’.

The Church of England is trying to help us and has published a summary of works it has been doing – on ‘Setting God’s People Free’.   They are encouraging us to be The Good News of Jesus in all our life, Monday to Saturday, as well as Sunday. They are talking about 2 major shifts in thinking:

  1. That everyone, ordained and lay, must teach and equip people to follow Jesus in every sphere of life in ways that show the difference the Gospel makes.   And
  2. We must all recognise that we are all baptised equally into Christ, equal in worth and status, complementary in gifting and vocation and equal partners in mission.

PCC’s and Deaneries will be encourages to see what steps they can identify which will really make a different – with plans for the next month, the next 6 months and in 2 years.   Please pray for this work.

These reflections are what I saw from the course – other group members may have different views!

                                                                                                                                    Maddie Hedley

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