Earlier this week I went to see “Dirty Dancing”. The musical based on the
1980’s film released in the summer I was 18. As school finished and we set off on our own adventures as young adults the film resonated in all sorts of ways. Certain moments have become iconic: the girl who, bowled over by the sheer attractiveness of the male lead can only think to say: “I carried a watermelon” and is then embarrassed all over again by the sheer banality of her words; the moment when Danny reappears at the end of the film and says: “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” and then the wonderful, visual imagery of the great lift in the final dance of the show – the one they have practiced and failed at throughout the evening. We applauded enthusiastically as each remembered moment was faithfully reproduced on stage and as the soundtrack to our youth poured over us, I will not have been the only one who felt a little jolt of nostalgia and wistfulness for the exuberance and self-belief of our younger selves.
That’s what this time of year is supposed to be like. The great re-telling of the familiar story. The betrayal, the forgiveness, the washing of the feet, the “Do this in remembrance of me” and “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” and “Eloi, eloi, lammas sabaccthani” and “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” We should hear these words told in the old, old story and want to applaud, weep and hope, remembering once again the time when we first heard the story. And on Easter Sunday we should be bowled over by the sheer excitement and energy of the resurrection.
We have become so familiar with this most wonderful of stories, that we forget to be excited and enthused as each line comes along, as each act unfolds. Perhaps also, when faced with fears for the future of the church to which we have given so much, we forget that ours is a resurrection faith. It has been a terribly sad time for the Circuit, and particularly for the Windsor section, as Old Windsor and Eton Wick ceased to meet, and yet as the members of these beloved congregations move their membership to other churches in the circuit, they bring resurrection hope with them, strengthening and uplifting the fellowships which they join. Inevitably we fear that our numbers and our abilities to speak the Good News are dwindling. But we have a faithful God, we are a resurrection people, and the faith we profess and the love we share holds out hope for the years to come.