OPINION: The oddity of Christianity in all its glory - Father Gary Waddington, Team Rector, St Wilfrid’s, Harrogate

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Perhaps you think we’re all a bit odd? After all, a man rising from the dead after three days does seem a bit odd, doesn’t it?

In a couple of months, I celebrate twenty-five years of being a priest. It’s been an amazing privilege and a wonderful honour - and let’s face it, being the parish priest of somewhere like St Wilfrid’s - such a stunning building and some truly wonderful people - is a fabulous thing to be able to do.

As I approach Easter, I’ve been reflecting this year on that task of priestly ministry.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I’m often asked ‘what do you most enjoy about it?’ To be honest, it’s a pretty tough question.

OPINION: The oddity of Christianity in all its glory - Father Gary WaddingtonOPINION: The oddity of Christianity in all its glory - Father Gary Waddington
OPINION: The oddity of Christianity in all its glory - Father Gary Waddington
Read More
OPINION: The drama of life epitomised at Easter - The Dean of Ripon, The Very Re...

At the heart of priestly life is the celebration of mass - the Eucharist, Holy Communion, whatever you might call it. This is the central task of a priest. We stand at the altar, take bread and wine and through the action of the Holy Spirit, in great mystery they are transformed so that Jesus is present: they are his body and blood.

Everything else we do flows from that. But that sounds odd, weird even.

Then there’s funerals. They are always a particular joy and privilege. We commend those who have died to God and pray that they may be forgiven their sins and admitted to heaven. We do so in the belief that Jesus, through his own death and resurrection - as we remember in Holy Week - has defeated death, forgives sin and gives us the hope of eternal life. For many, that too sounds odd, weird even.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At Easter, we come to the ‘core’ of Christian belief. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. More than any other question, “Do you really believe that?” is the one that comes up most often. Because, for many, it’s odd, weird or frankly impossible to believe.

Yes, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. But there’s no scientific test to show a positive red line if Christianity is true. I believe it, the Church believes it, because through millenia of witnesses, we point to the outcome of that singular event.

The witness of lives changed, of Scripture, of sacraments, the Church, of billions of people who have, and do, believe that Jesus died on a cross, was buried and rose again.

And sure, we get it. We know that some people might think it all a bit odd, and that we’re a bit weird. We shouldn’t be frightened of that - we should rejoice in it!

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

For this singular event in history, more than any other has transformed lives and cultures. It is written and woven into our social fabric like the writing in the proverbial Blackpool rock.

If belief in it were easy, it would be far less attractive.

So if you think I and my fellow priests and Christians are odd this Easter, good. Because for us, faith is far less strange than you thinking Easter is about a giant bunny who dispenses chocolate eggs.

Related topics: