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Glastonbury’s other claim to fame

A sign in Glastonbury promoting the ‘holy thorn’ bush that blooms every Christmas Day.


You’ve probably heard of the annual Glastonbury Music Festival, held in Somerset, England, and featuring world-famous singers and bands. It is being held again this year from 26-30 and all the tickets sold out in 20 minutes!


According to folklore, Glastonbury has another claim to fame as the site of the first Christian church built near Glastonbury Tor, which still attracts many Christian pilgrims.


There is a legend that a follower of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, came to Britain in AD 61. When he arrived, in weariness, he drove his staff into the ground to rest on it; the staff budded and became a bush that blooms with white blossoms every Christmas Day. And so, the place became known as Wearyall Hill.

The Glastonbury Music Festival, held in Somerset, England, draws thousands of people each year.

We have no way of knowing if the legend is true, although the bush certainly exists. A nice story, nevertheless.


The Bible tells us that Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus but sadly didn’t have the courage to show his support for him. Until, that is, after Jesus had been crucified and died on the cross.

Then he went to the Roman Governor Pilate and “asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away” (Matthew 27: 57-60 NIV). A magnificent gesture but one that would soon become public, so no longer a secret follower.


In his Daily Study Bible, William Barclay highlights the tragedy of Joseph, who, despite being a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council that condemned Jesus to death, did not speak up, perhaps for fear of the consequences. Barclay writes, “How it would have lifted up Jesus’ heart if, even in that grim assembly of bleak hatred, even one lone voice had spoken for him?”


If we’ve been a secret follower of Jesus, what better time to pledge our allegiance to him, no matter what? 


Now that would be something worth singing about!



*James Burns is a freelance writer from the Dunstable Salvos in the United Kingdom.






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