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The UK is edging towards the Spring season - that is, one step forward and two steps back! When there is sunshine there is often a bitter North-East wind or otherwise there is grey, damp and inconsolable weather. But the days are lengthening and there is hope in the various early flowers such as the dwarf daffodils, crocuses and irises, and even the roses are putting out shoots. By contrast the 'world' goes its regular way forward whatever the weather. Hundreds of cars, vans and buses regularly vanish inside the Cambridge Science park each morning between 7.30 and 9.0., visible from my windows. The austere, 'post-modernist' and obviously efficient architecture of the hi-tech premises stands out here in North Cambridge, a world away in appearance if not in outlook, from the mediaeval buildings of the older parts of the University three miles away. The world of business and everyday life also has its seasons - weekends, holidays and bank holidays throughout the year.

It is also, as I write, the beginning of one of the church's seasons - Lent. The church's seasons - Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost - began haphazardly in various parts of Europe and the Middle East as devotional worship remembrances of the gospel. But by the sixth-seventh centuries they became the then known world's annual Calendar. In the hey day of what was known as Christendom, the Church's seasons ruled the life of people from Constantinople to London. Now, apart from Christmas and Easter, that Calendar has become peripheral to daily life in Western Europe. Instead, the church's seasonal tradition carries on in an enclave surrounded by the ever growing human concerns, failures and triumphs of society.

It has been clear for at least a century that the Christian way of life and worship must enter more nearly into the changed regular pattern of living of the majority of people today. The Christ in John's gospel proclaims that

'I came that they may have life, and have it in all its fulness.'

The response to Jesus and to the gospel is worship built round our commitment to him as the living Lord of every day. It is a celebration of a continual Easter faith which does not take two steps backwards in imagination like the natural seasons. It does not look backwards but is continually taking steps forwards in worship and life in the kingdom of the Father.


© Aelred Arnesen

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