A few weeks ago, in the depths of a cold January morning, someone confessed to me: ‘I can’t wait for spring’. I had to agree with them. Leaving home on the school run entirely dependent on the car’s headlights to guide me, knowing that by the time Ross comes home at the end of the school day the darkness of night will have already returned, I find quite dispiriting. I too long for the lengthening of days and seeing signs of new life sprouting even in the manse garden.
Now that time is approaching, a sense of renewal and invigoration is at hand. I recently had the joy of visiting Exeter to see how our eldest son is getting on in his first year at university. Sitting outside in the grounds of one of England’s finest cathedrals, soaking up some welcome sunshine, reunited as a family, drinking a welcome cup of coffee, somehow all seemed well with the world – just for those precious few moments. Of course, I know that the world has dreadful problems which cause many of us to be deeply concerned, especially for the future of the younger generation who will have to live the consequences of decisions taken recently, but just for those few precious minutes in Exeter it was possible to put those concerns on a ‘back burner’ and simply enjoy the moment of being together.
I suspect it helped being aware of the presence of a holy place in our midst. It was hard, after all, to ignore the magnificence of Exeter Cathedral beside us. That is why the role of the church is so important in offering hope to our troubled world. Our buildings, but more importantly the work of people who regularly gather in those buildings to praise God, has to be sign to the world that God, the one who is full of love and compassion for all, is active in our world and therefore there is hope.
This truth becomes very real as we enter springtime with signs of new life taking shape all around us. No wonder the church spends so much Lenten time in preparation to shout an Easter ‘Alleluia’. It can’t come soon enough.
With love and prayers
Russell J Furley-Smith