Looking to Lent and Easter

In many ways it all began in Lent 2020. Lockdown, queuing at the supermarket, washing and sanitising my hands. No vaccines then, nor had we begun to tread the challenging path of variants. Not being able to worship in our church buildings on Easter Day 2020 was hugely significant. It felt like we didn’t know what had hit us. But we were grateful, and became increasingly grateful, for the work of the NHS, and of key workers, in supermarkets, delivery drivers, teachers and many others. Gradually, we adjusted. We didn’t think it would last so long, but, though rules and regulations have chopped and changed, and continue to do so, it has not felt ‘normal’ for something like two years.

Are we getting to a new normal? Will this Easter see us worshipping in church in a ‘sort of’ normal, a new normal. As I write, there are many signs of hope, and it looks as though it will be different, though we still can’t be sure what twists and turns lie ahead.

That has got me thinking about the importance of living in the moment, and of valuing God’s blessings as they are for me now. The Easter message, to which we head, as we journey through Lent is always a message of hope. It was in 2020, and 2021 – and will be in 2022 and beyond. We’ve all been through a lot, some, of course, more than others – but we all need to pick out the signs of God’s Kingdom where we see them.

I remember once – and I just can’t remember where – going round a stately home (or one of that type of place) and seeing on display a collection of crosses, which quite intrigued me, not least because I have a very small collection of crosses. Each one speaks of the cross, of Good Friday, of Easter Day, yet each also has a special connection for me. One of those that I most value is my brightly coloured Salvadoran cross (pictured). These crosses emerged in the 1960s and 70s. I think I obtained this one (probably from Traidcraft) in the early 1980s. At that time people in El Salvador were frequently fleeing brutal persecution, the most prominent example of which was possibly the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980. The crosses were a reaction in which the people tried to express hope in the midst of the pain and suffering. Brightly coloured scenes that related to their faith were painted on to wooden crosses as an expression of faith. Some of the scenes were drawn from everyday life, others from the Bible.

I wonder, if we were to try and do the same, what we would depict on our cross as we approach Easter 2022.

Paul Whittle