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Hallo again to all.

Plant pushing its way through dead twigs

We at Anglicans Online recently experienced an unexpectedly springlike weekend. At first glance the warm temperatures, light breeze, and bright sunshine seemed a marked contrast to the brown, dried out, wilted grasses and plants that lined the gardens. At further inspection, however, we noticed bits of green, poking through the brown - new life through the remnants of the old. Life bursting through, making its voice known in spite of the dead around it. (No one bothered to clear last year’s brush). These small bounces of green seemed to defy the dead around it as if a small voice shouting 'I will live'.

That deep down shred of hope in ourselves, that light that somehow manages to brighten the bleakness around it. It reminds us of a moment in one of our favourite childhood books, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Colin, a sickly ten year old boy who, upon seeing the secret garden for the first time, looking at life around him, grandly cried 'I shall live forever and ever and ever'.

The narrator continues:

'One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one's head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun—which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so'.

We typically experience Lent as a solemn time, with dour music and prayers of repentance. A sacrificial season of fasting and preparation. Yet, sometimes, deep down, for that moment or so, no matter how hard we focus on the solemn, prayerful, holy Lent as Anglicans, we can never quite forget that after Christ dies, He will rise, and there will be life, for everyone. In the Northern Hemisphere, where we find ourselves, we look forward to the end of Lent, knowing that spring, a season of new life will greet us at the end. We imagine in the Southern Hemisphere, Lent must be far more difficult to observe, without the backdrop of impending Spring. Whatever the season, as we walk the Lenten journey, deep within us, there’s this spark we can’t quite quash - the knowledge that we will live forever and ever and ever!

The following prayer, originally from the Easter Vigil portion of the Gelasian Sacramentary*, found in many prayer books around the Anglican Communion, typically in the Good Friday or Easter Vigil liturgies (or in some cases, both) seems to catch this spark .**

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look
favourably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry
out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world
see and know that things which were cast down are being
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

All the best for a holy, hope-filled Lent!

See you next week. 

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All of us at Anglicans Online

16 March 2014

*From Marion Hatchett's Commentary on the American Prayer Book - In the Good Friday section he says: 'The prayer is from the Gelasian Sacramentary (no.432), in which it is appointed for use after the first lection, Genesis 1, at the Easter Vigil. A prayer in the Gregorian sacramentary (no. 514) for the vigil of Pentecost uses the preamble'. In the Easter Vigil section he adds: 'The translation is based upon that of William Bright in Ancient Collects (pages 98-99)'.

**Both the Anglican Church of Canada and the US Episcopal Church use this prayer in both liturgies, linking Christ’s death and Resurrection and promise of eternal life, with new things coming from the old. The prayer also appears in at least one of those the services in Australia, New Zealand, and the Church of England.

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