Welcome to my April blog,
Although I missed April and it is now early May the good thing about a blog on a web is there is no print deadline to miss and all my blogs will stay on line. For Christians April is usually the month of Easter, although it is sometimes in March as last year. But for Anglicans and especially Anglican Vicars it also is the month for AGMs or ‘APCMs’ (Annual Parochial Church Meetings) as they are correctly called that by law have to take place by the end of April every year to report on the previous calendar year. Whilst in our society anything institutional or organised (especially meetings) are unpopular and regarded with suspicion so that fewer people attend AGMs of any organisation now than used to, AGMs are a time of facing honesty and reality as we look back in thankfulness to the past and see God’s faithfulness to us, whatever we have gone through, a time to stop and assess where we are and who we elect to Church Councils to lead God’s work forward, but also to look ahead in faith and trust to where God may be leading us.
And whilst APCMs are a major event to organise and take up a lot of time and energy I have largely found them encouraging not just in the nearly ¼ century I have been an Anglican Minister but also when I served on Parish Church Councils before I was ordained. So despite all that is thrown at us as a church with pressures of people, buildings and money, I am encouraged at APCM time!
And why is this?
Simply because Easter and the wonderful message of new life, hope and eternal life are at the heart of our faith.The death and resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate over the Easter weekend is the central fact in what we believe; Central to the Bible; And central to God’s plan for the world.
At Easter we look back to see the past that has often been great, but sometimes not so, and yet God still gave His Son Jesus Christ to die for us to be saved from the consequences of the mess we have sometimes made of our lives and the lives of others, we pause to resolve to trust in Him, to believe in Him, to hope in Him and serve Him more, and we look ahead in confidence as the consequences of the resurrection, where God raises Jesus gloriously from the dead for evermore, never to die again, mean that whatever the future holds God will never let us go, that He will always be with us, and that whatever we do if we are truly sorry God will forgive us as His Son Jesus died to take the punishment for all our wrongdoing, and rose again to conquer the final old enemy of death.
So I am glad that we have our APCMs around Easter which is such a hopeful time.
Maybe you’ve given up going to APCMs or any church meetings even if you are an active member of a church, as they seem boring and unnecessary and just there to fulfil legalities, but it’s good to look back in thankfulness for God’s goodness and faithfulness to us even when things seemed hard, it’s good to pause and re-commit ourselves to God who made us, loves us and cares for us and certainly good to look ahead to all that we know God will do with us and through us and around us if we will allow Him to lead us and guide us and direct our lives for His glory and for our good.
So I shall continue to celebrate and be encouraged by both Easter at the heart of our Christian faith, and by our Annual Parish Church meeting which is at the heart of the organisation and structure of our local church that seeks to serve God together and reach out in service to those around us with the good news of God’s love and care for each one of us in His Son Jesus Christ.