4th April 2021
Parish Church of St James, Louth
Romans 6.3-11; Mark 16.1-8
+May I speak in the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
All through Holy Week, from the ‘hosannas’ and branches of Palm Sunday, through the Last Supper and Gethsemane Watch of Maundy Thursday, and the time by the cross on Good Friday, we have been dramatically re-enacting the events of Jesus’ final week. We honour his Passion, and assert that our lives can really carry the pattern of divine offering and Christ’s promise as we do so. This morning some of us got up at sunrise and visited our outdoor Easter Garden to extend that. But it feels very appropriate that all over the country this Easter we are likely to be doing something that re-enacts our Resurrection Gospel this morning. We will be going into our gardens to find our beloveds, from whom it has felt like a forever of parting, are on their way. Meeting our beloveds like Mary Magdalen did in teh garden, even though we cannot quite yet, like her, embrace. Of course this is less by God’s purpose than by governmental diktat, but it still feels very appropriate. The nervousness of the three women flowered with realisation into an immense joy beyond anything they could have hoped for. I certainly hope we feel something of that joy as our hearts, which may well have been ‘wintry, grieving or in pain’ are brought back to life again’ as the beautiful Easter hymn says.
Last week, we marked the anniversary of the first lockdown with prayers and bells. It has been a year of radical disruption, loss and change. Some reversible, some not. Unparalleled, as we have heard so many times. However we look at what it has unveiled and transformed, it has been a year to define what is to come. For our world, our nation, our community and our parish we will think in pre-pandemic and post-pandemic terms.
But all that is nothing, nothing at all, when compared to the change, the disruption, the transformation the Resurrection brings. Loss becomes gain. Death becomes life. Despair becomes hope. For Christ has gone to war on our behalf, against all that frightens us, all that entraps us, all that belittles us or demeans us. Death has been defeated. The grave has been transformed into a bed, from which we too will rise again.
Just that moment, in so many ways an anonymous moment, that particular second in that particular place and time in Palestine, is the hinge of time and history. And in choosing that moment, second and time he changes our every moment, second and time to be rich with the possibility of resurrection and new life.
This week James, my husband as you know, got the excellent gig of popping into a local nursery for some Easter story telling. A little girl accompanied him into the garden, newcomers being unusual in these times. ‘How did you get here?’ asked the little girl. ‘In a car’, replied my husband. The little girl looked bemused. She frowned. She wrinkled her small nose. ‘Are you a grown up?’ she asked, disbelievingly. James had clearly up to that point been just another (if unusually tall and hirsute) one of her kind.
Are we grown-ups? The law and our own self-understanding might say ‘yes’. But what about in the eyes of God? On Easter Day perhaps grown up is not what we should hope to be. For this is the day when we remember God disrupts our clay-y being, changes us forever. Whether young or old, today we are all remade as children of the resurrection. Children of eternity. George Herbert writes in his poem ‘Easter’ that with Jesus’ rising we all live most truly in an eternal Easter, God’s bright purpose for us all. We are children of eternity.‘Can there by any day but this?’ However our life has been so far, in duration, in character, there is more to look forward to than to look back on. And all of it new. We do not live in the shadow of any pandemic, or any personal failing in the past, as much as we live in the blazing light of the resurrection, which shines about us, around us, before us, as far as the eye can see.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!