Traditionally, each year there are two waiting times in the Christian calendar. The first, Advent, starts four Sundays before Christmas Day and marks the beginning of the liturgical year. It is a season of expectation and preparation as the Church prepares to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Although a time of joy and celebration, Advent is the lesser of the two waiting times.
Easter Sunday, the greatest day in the Christian calendar, is preceded by Holy Week, which in turn is preceded by Lent. Starting on Ash Wednesday, Lent lasts for forty days, not including Sundays, following the example of Jesus, who fasted for forty days in the wilderness. It is a time for reflection and preparation, as we prepare for the celebrations of Easter.
The events surrounding the Crucifixion and the Resurrection have to be recognised and accepted but never fully understood, at least not in the same way one understands a traditional Agatha Christie murder mystery, for example. Hence, they are known as the Paschal mystery, and you will sometimes see Jesus referred to as the Paschal Lamb.
There is a new waiting time emerging in recent years in the Church, known as interregnum. Literally meaning between leaders, the term also applies to kings and elected parliaments. For our joint benefice, interregnum is the time between the vacancy and appointment of our Priest in Charge. Believe it or not, this has lasted for over a year (does it seem longer?), a period including two Lents and one Advent!
I will leave you to reflect on the reasons for our extended interregnum. Is it that God is calling fewer people to become priests, or has the bar of priestly duties been raised to the point where many are deterred from following their calling?
For us, the interregnum waiting time is almost over. It has, at times, reminded me of the 1953 Samuel Becket play, waiting for Godot, in which two characters wait for the mysterious Godot, who never appears. Why has the wait been so long? Have we been praying enough?
Now is also a time for us to reflect. How has this waiting time affected us? The Church in our joint benefice has continued over this period using a considerable number of volunteers. How has this affected you? How comfortable have you been in your role? Do you feel you have been called to help, or have you helped because no one else was called? Never has the phrase ‘Many hands make light work’ felt more appropriate (read John 8:12).
The waiting time is almost over. Please come to Holy Trinity Church, Barrow, on Wednesday 10 July at 7pm to witness Clive Watts’ Licencing as our Priest in Charge. Also, please continue to pray that we will soon find our House for Duty Minister.
With every blessing,