We are a group of four Anglican parish churches who enjoy working collaboratively in serving the people and communities of Beech Hill, Farley Hill, Grazeley, Riseley, Shinfield, Spencers Wood, Swallowfield and Three Mile Cross. Our four parish churches are delightfully different in history and character, each offering a different take on what it means to be active, forward-looking, community-focussed churches of the 21st century. Each church also has its own style of worship, weekly activities and pattern of services that continue to evolve. You should find all you need to know about us as you engage with our website, but if you’d like to meet and talk something through in person… don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Raising hope this Easter!
The 'Great British Bake Off' has taught me that given a suitable recipe and an oven set at the correct temperature a Victoria sponge cake will rise of its own accord. Sea levels are rising, the cost of living is rising, gas rises and so now are the prices. The temperature of planet earth is rising, smoke rises, so do bubbles according to the supporters of West Ham United, tempers can rise and with it blood pressure. But statistically speaking, carpenters killed by crucifixion do not rise. Once dead crucified people remain dead. Don't they?
Easter is a time when Christians celebrate not that a brave revolutionary rose to power, but that Jesus was a Grave revolutionary by rising from the dead. But in these days of forensic examination and with the appetite for TV murder mystery sleuths on the rise, does the evidence still stand up?
Dan Brown in his popular novel 'The Di Vinci Code' recycled an old idea that Jesus didn't actually die on the cross, this has for centuries been known as the 'swoon theory.' The theory that Jesus just past out and came around later when he was in the tomb. The problem with this theory however is that there were many witnesses who saw Jesus die including the Roman soldiers who were experienced in carrying out these executions (one even thrust a spear into his side to make sure). Dan Brown goes on to postulate that it was all a big conspiracy by Jesus and his disciples and that Jesus went off and married Mary Magdalene and had children by her. The biggest logical hole in this theory and in the swoon theory in general is why then would the disciples who were scared, timid and hiding away from everyone then go and give their lives (as they all did apart from John) for what they knew to be a lie? Why would they proclaim so boldly that Jesus had risen from the dead, risking their lives if they knew that it was not true? Would you? I wouldn't!
One of the most popular and enduring books on this theme was written in 1930 by Frank Morrison and is still published to this day (available on Amazon). The book is called 'Who moved the stone?' Writing as a convinced atheist and aspiring detective the working title for the book was 'Jesus - The Last Phase' to demonstrate the myth of the resurrection. After analysing all the available sources Morrison became convinced that the resurrection did in fact happen and became a Christian himself and many more people have in fact found his book a great help in finding faith themselves.
So this Easter don't rise to the secular bait of chocolate eggs and cute bunnies. Instead grapple with the most significant event in human history and raise your thinking to the most important question of all. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Because if he did (as I believe so) it changes everything.
Do come along to our services this Easter and find out more. Everyone welcome.