Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter Greetings


You might be on top of the world right now, with everything in your life working out just as you would wish. Or you might be struggling with tragedies and difficult circumstances that severely try your confidence in the goodness of God. Truth be told, most of us know both those polarities. Ask anybody who tries to follow Jesus. They'll tell you that the Christian way is not an insurance policy against Gethsemanies and Calvaries. But it IS the means of experiencing the dynamic of the Lord's resurrection in our lives here and now (and not just when we die!). So, whoever you are and wherever you are, I beckon your gaze to the crucified and risen Saviour who loves you so much. 

The late Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, Church of England Bishop in Europe from 2001 to 2013, was a pastor, a scholar, a holy priest and a faithful Anglo-Catholic. He was also deeply aware of the power of the Lord's resurrection. So I share with you here a stunning piece he wrote for publication in the Sunday Times, Easter Day, 8th April, 2007:

Jesus dies. His lifeless body is taken down from the cross. Painters and sculptors have strained their every nerve to portray the sorrow of Mary holding her lifeless son in her arms, as mothers today in Baghdad hold with the same anguish the bodies of their children. On Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve, God is dead, entering into the nothingness of human dying. The source of all being, the One who framed the vastness and the microscopic patterning of the Universe, the delicacy of petals and the scent of thyme, the musician’s melodies and the lover’s heart, is one with us in our mortality. In Jesus, God knows our dying from the inside.

How can these things be said, and sung, and celebrated, as they will be by countless millions this Easter? Only because the blotting out of life by death is not the horizon. The definitive line is not drawn there. From that nothingness and darkness and the seeming triumph of the darkest powers of evil, new life was born, a new creation came to be. On Easter morning a tomb was found empty, a stone rolled away, and a new order broke into the world. The Easter stories of the Gospels are not about “the resurrection of relics”, but about an amazing new life and transfiguration. It is not the resurrection of a principle but of a person, who calls us by name. In St John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene hears the calling of her name by the risen Christ, though blinded by her tears she thinks Him to be the gardener. Clutching his feet she tries to pin him down, to shut him up in the old order, but he tells her not to touch, not to seek to hold down his risen life. She is to go and tell the Good News of resurrection, that all may be drawn into the ascending energy of the love of God.

Jesus breathes on His disciples His life-giving Spirit, the divine life of the new creation. “Go and live that life, live out that love”, for “Christ is risen and the demons are fallen”. The principalities and powers are dethroned. They have no ultimate control of our lives. From the nothingness of death and the absence of God and meaning, Christ rises in triumph and love’s redeeming work is done.


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