Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

As I write this the excitement of Easter has almost evaporated, it was six Sundays ago. However as far as the Churches calendar is concerned we are still in the Easter season. I recently read an article that suggested that 1st April should always be Easter day. The reasoning behind this statement is that God’s actions or sometimes lack of action appears to those who consider themselves wise to be foolish. To consider that God acts foolishly is to reveal a misapprehension of God’s purpose and his relationship with his wonderful creation!

As I look out of my window I see the leaves opening on Sam Lake’s trees. As I walk around the village I see blossom forming. I see bulbs in bloom. I see the rape coming into its full yellow flowering. As I drive into Petersfield I experience the full effect of spring’s wonderful palette on the countryside. Waking in the early hours I enjoy wonderful sun rises. And what can be more invigorating than to hear the joyful early morning songs of the birds that inhabit our gardens! I find it impossible to say that our God who created our world is not still at work.

Today we have been celebrating Rogation tide. The Reverend Stuart Cleaver presided over a very spiritual Parish Eucharist held on the Crossley’s farm at Rushmere. The door to the barn we used was open and the congregation were treated to a most wonderful panoramic view over the countryside looking towards Denmead. We were reminded that rogation comes from the Latin “Rogare” meaning to ask. Apparently in even in Roman times the farmers had problems with disease in their crops. At that time dogs were sacrificed to appease the gods and to ensure a good harvest. Josie and Jane refused to allow their dogs to be sacrificed to ensure a good harvest in Hambledon. Mr Crossley led us to understand that these days more scientific methods are used! However the power of prayer cannot be overlooked and we sprayed copious amounts of prayer over the crops of the world to seek a good harvest for all mankind.

My thoughts are also turning towards our young people who are entering the dreaded public examination period. GCSE, A levels and the International Baccalaureate are all taking place now. Two of our grandsons are amongst the many who will be coping with this fraught and anxious period. I am sure that all the candidates will be doing their very best to satisfy the examiners. My prayers go out for all of them that they may do the best that they can do! I pray also that their families and friends will give their loved ones the support and guidance that they require.

Many years ago when I was doing A Levels we studied many poets all of whom wrote about this time of the year. I am fond of all of them. However I think that the most poignant for this time of year is “Home Thoughts From Abroad” by Robert Browning and I make no apology for sharing this with you all.

Oh, to be in England,
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England – now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows –
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower,
– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Every moment I thank God for the abundance which he gives to us. He loves us undeservedly, he provides our daily needs. Thanks be to God for his munificence. Our task is to share his gifts and to spread his good news.

Graham Parr