01344 761050 St Sebastian's Church Office office@stsebastians.org.uk

Dear Friends

Welcome to the month of April.

We have just finished the season of Lent reflection and Easter during the last month of March.  The season concluded on Easter Sunday when we celebrated the resurrection of Christ.

The season of Lent was a time for deep contemplation, fasting from food and festivities and praying in recognition of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness.  It was also a timely space for growth in our faith and well-being.

We experienced once again the journey of Christ with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (24th March), His Crucifixion on Good Friday (29th March) to the Empty Tomb on Easter Sunday morning (31st March) signifying His Resurrection.   If some people were anxious at the beginning of Lent, we now have a sense of repentance, forgiveness, peace, understanding and acceptance of our circumstances.

Why is this important?  It is because the resurrection of Christ, celebrated last month, gives us hope for His return at the end of time.   In the final chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says nine important words: “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent”.   Our current and future hope are now strengthened.   If our sins are forgiven, we can forgive the sins of others.  And, if the sins of others are forgiven, we have the capacity with the help of God to release the burden of unforgiveness from such persons chained to anxiety, guilt, worry, fears and “imposter syndrome”   We deserve to be forgiven because Christ died for us.

The month of April is known for the flower: “Sweet Pea”, which conveys happiness, blissfulness and goodbye.  The other April flower, “Daisy”, represents innocence, certainty, modesty and conveys good fortune, happiness and pleasure.  Whilst flowers are great, words matter too, particularly, the words of Jesus when it comes to happiness.

Matthew’s Gospel states: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  Other bible translations read: “Happy are the poor in spirit…” and another goes as far as to say, “Congratulations to the poor in spirit”.   The word “happy” carries a far richer tone than we commonly attach to the word.  It suggests a deep abiding happiness, not just a temporary emotional lift.

Forgiveness has the power to guide us through life challenges and yet be happy.   Is this important?  Why, yes!   Francis of Assisi cited the following words: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy”.   Here are words for sustaining daily Christian living to maintain course for holding the Lord’s purpose.

We all want to be happy, and rightly so.  The longing for lasting happiness is a deep rooted instinct within us from God our Father in heaven.  We must also see that it is only God that can make us happy through His redeeming love and forgiveness expressed through the Cross at Calvary on Good Friday and Resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Someone once said, “Now that I know Christ, I’m happier when I’m sad than before when I was glad”.

I hope you’re able to join me in wanting an abundance of the Lord’s guidance and forgiveness throughout 2024 and more.  We will then become like the truly happy person: ”The one who can enjoy the scenery even when s/he must take a detour” (Unknown).  Amen!


How beautiful!

Stay blessed with love

Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of Wokingham St Sebastian’s