Croeso i Gonwy
Welcome to Conwy
This magnificent cherry tree in the grounds of St. Mary’s Church (Conwy) is always really popular with our Japanese visitors. I’m sure you know that cherry blossom has a huge symbolism in Japanese culture. Like a cloud, the blossom is fragile, short-lived (and all the more precious for that). And for centuries Japanese artists and poets have seen a link between that and the fragility and short-lived beauty of human life.
Of course now more than ever, all over the world, we are aware of that vulnerability: our mortality and the fragility of life. My heart goes out to those who have already lost loved ones. And there’s an empathy for all of us isn’t there with that shared fear in, every nation and on every street, of what lies ahead.
Today is ‘Passion Sunday.’ It is nothing to do with Valentine’s day or Dydd Santes Dwynwen, it’s not about romantic passion. It’s the original meaning of the word: ‘Passion’ meant ‘Suffering’. That’s why in the Book of Common Prayer (in the Communion prayer) we ask for the bread and wine to bring us forgiveness ‘and all other benefits of his Passion’ i.e. all the healing, hope and restoration that flows from the Cross.
On Passion Sunday, we look ahead to the events we are about to walk through again, as we remember the suffering of Jesus – his ‘Passion’ – in Holy Week and supremely on the Cross, on Good Friday. I think this cherry blossom is also a good symbol for that. After all the blossom means that there will be seeds, that there is life to come. And the passion of the cross, the suffering of Jesus, is the gift to us of new life. [This was] a suffering that he accepted; not something thrust upon him but something he chose. Luke chapter 9 verse 22: Jesus said, “I must undergo great suffering, be rejected, be killed and on the third day rise again.”
We pray for all that lies ahead: that in that we will find hope and protection, that out of this terrible time there will be new life. We see glimpses of it in the kindness of neighbours, in the courage of health staff, in our refusal to give up on the life that we share, the steadfast love that links us as friends, as family, as people who mean so much to us – all the more when we are separated and unable to embrace.
On this Passion Sunday, and always, may you know the love of God: the love that sets us free, the ‘Passion’ that paid the price for us to live forever.
Yn enw Crist, in Christ’s name. Amen.