My Dear Friends,
Story telling has many devices, but there is one which recurs. The hero or heroine will have certain adventures and then, awakening from sleep, they realise that they have been dreaming. Yet as they do, they see in the place in which they have awoken, an object which was also in the dream. The haunting question arises – “Which is dream and which is reality?”
Trying to turn visions and dreams into reality is the aspiration of all great reformers and leaders. But the attempt to turn a lovely dream into a living reality is also the purpose of any friendship, partnership or marriage. During Lent individual Christians are faced anew with the opportunity of turning the nightmare of dust and ashes into the wonder of a new way of living. But it doesn’t just happen. You need to get involved with what is going on in our church this year. This is the year which could turn a nightmare or dream into a real new way of life.
Holy Week and Easter is the Christian’s way of creating, out of the stories, dreams and realities of yesterday the possibilities of today. The palm in your hand, the candle in the church, the cross carried through our streets are all mysterious ways in which a Church, or home can become an upper room; our altar and that long-ago table become one. Whatever you choose to do this year, involve yourself in what Saint John’s and the other churches of our area are trying to do. This year, then, you may come to recognise that the events by which Jesus enters our human history are not isolated in the past but guide the way in which we can live our lives now. Dulwich and Peckham become Jerusalem, and Jerusalem becomes our modern city.
Year by year we know how cries of “Hosanna” can turn so easily into shouts of “Crucify”. But we also may know that through his death Jesus completed a new creation. A nightmare turns into a dream, which can be realised. On Easter morning Light is kindled against the darkness. Order is born from chaos, the rainbow appears and the Red Sea opens. There will have been many dark nights for you during the past year but the night passes into dawn and irresistible Easter overwhelms the world. We are not just remembering something that happened ages ago. We are making real a dream; Christ dead and risen among us, and the Spirit breathing into us today.
Touch the palm you receive on Palm Sunday and frequently touch it. It may feel like your first. It may be your last. Our religion has many such things to touch and we may touch them all this Holy Week. All of them this week may annihilate the gulfs which separate past, present and future. Good Friday’s place of execution can become, on Easter Day, a garden of new life. And if Bethlehem was where God in humanity was born, if Calvary was where God in humanity died, then our vocation, yours and mine until the day we die, is to search for these mysteries in the patterns of history, in the complexities of public affairs and in our daily dreams and realities. If you can accept that, through Holy Week, God is strangely and riskily calling you to Him then you will exchange observation for involvement.
Then a self in you will be born, a self will die, and a self will rise again.
With love, Fr Charles