Outside, in the churchyard, clumps of daffodils struggled to raise their golden trumpets against the bitter wind. Snow fell from leaden skies and came to rest on the grassy banks and against the old tombstones, obliterating the words written thereon.
Inside, the senses were sharply aware of a mass of white blooms, with their sweet scent filling the air. The light was bright. People were dressed in white.
And there was an aura of excitement, of expectation. All was well in this place on this day.
When was this? Where was this?
Answer: St. Mary’s Parish Church, Woodbridge, at 1000 on Easter Day. The bells pealed their happy message, as they had done for centuries, unhindered by the forces of wind and storm. And so welcome after the muffled sound of the past six weeks. Yes, it was back in February, the day after Pancake Day, when it all began: Ash Wednesday. The start of Lent, marking the forty days and forty nights Jesus spent in the wilderness; a time for Christians to think of the happenings leading up to Good Friday and the blackness of the Crucifixion, the most savage death the Romans could inflict on any human. A time for reflection: of life; of relationships; of successes and failures; of hopes; of the future; of joys and sorrows; of regrets, forgiveness and love.
But today, something was very different.
On this day, all over the world, a special event was being celebrated: an event which has changed the lives of millions of people; an event which forms the backbone of the Christian faith regardless of creed, colour or wealth; an event which has had more lasting impact on the human race than any other single event in history.
Here, at St. Mary’s, every seat was filled. The large choir was in magnificent voice and the organ rang out in joy. Lilies, donated in memory of loved ones no longer with us, carried ribbons bearing their names. Spring blossom adorned every windowsill and the children’s Easter garden bloomed beneath the Font.
Such a contrast to the stark bleakness of this place just two days earlier, when a large wooden cross and crown of thorns took centre stage; no flowers, no white garments, no joyous sounds from organ or voices. Simply stillness and silence.
But on this day, everything and everyone was alive and in good heart. The singing lifted the roof and the spoken word filled us with love and hope.
All ages were there – babies in arms and folk in their nineties; toddlers, children, teenagers and adults alike, catching something of the magic of the occasion, just as they had done at Christmas, perhaps.
Death had not won. Easter had come. Christ had risen.
On special occasions, there is something very wonderful about being inside St. Mary’s. This place offers something special on every occasion, because of the love it has absorbed and expressed for generations of Woodbridge folk. Whether you are a regular worshipper or an occasional visitor, St. Mary’s is there for us all. Always.
ALL IS RIGHT, INSIDE AND OUT.
May Easter joy be with you.
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