April 2012

The following is a great column I came across today in the Huffington Post.  I was especially moved by the idea that this ancient, small church is located in Norwich, since Julian of Norwich is one of my favorite Christian figures.  Julian promoted the idea of “full homely divinity”, that we should treat every moment of life, even the most mundane and small, as divine and holy.  In reading this article about a small group of faithful parishoners, I was struck by the purity and holiness of their love for their church, and for their community.  It’s a reminder to us all that sometimes, bigger is not necessarily better.  This post can also be read  at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katharine-quarmby/redenhall-church-and-a-qu_b_1423811.html .

St. Mary’s, Redenhall

I took part in a very well-mannered, English revolution on Easter Sunday, in Redenhall Church, a beautiful 15th century church in the parish of Redenhall in Norfolk, nestling in the tranquil Waveney Valley, where the barn-owls hunt in the dusk and where I canoed on the river as a child.

The Diocese of Norwich had decreed that there would be no worship on Easter Sunday in the old church — the first time for some six hundred years. A few — 10 in all — local people thought that there should be. And I thought I should join them.

I walked over the fields from Harleston, as parishioners had done, clutching their prayer books, for hundreds of years, before a fearsomely ugly church in the town (St Johns) was built in Victorian times. As I walked out the birds were still calling each other before night fell — starlings, blackbirds, crows and magpies. A rabbit ran out from under my feet across a field and into a burrow in a drainage ditch. And the Redenhall bells rang out — bells that had rang out first as the Armada sailed across towards our shores — as I walked into the churchyard, and saw my father waiting for me underneath an old yew tree.



“In that we have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless one.

Thy Cross do we adore, O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we praise and glorify.

For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee; we call upon Thy name.

O come, all ye faithful, let us adore Christ’s holy Resurrection, for, lo! through the Cross is joy come into all the world.

Ever blessing the Lord, let us sing His Resurrection, for in that He endured the Cross for us, He hath destroyed death by death.”

Voskresenije Hristovo Vidjevse, An Eastern Orthodox Easter Chant

The centurion, knowing the nature of the charge against Jesus, looks on in awe and amazement and declares — “So he really was Son of God, after all.” Two days later, of course, God is going to declare, powerfully, that Jesus really was innocent, really was Son of God. But if we understand the cross we can see that, to the eye of faith, the evidence is already there. Because on the cross we see a love which is none other than God’s own love. Only God loves like that. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” But on the cross there was a greater love nailed up in public, when God gave his life for his enemies. We cannot understand the cross unless we understand the incarnation, and vice versa. As St Paul put it — God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. The words that Jesus himself spoke at supper on the night he was betrayed are, as it were, magnified into the words that God himself says, not with speech but with action, on the first Good Friday: “This is my body, broken for you.”


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