An Easter message of hope in troubled times

St Hilda's Church
St Hilda's Church
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WE proclaim Christ....

....yes, Christ nailed to the cross.

That is never more true than in the first week of this month, the week we call Holy Week, coming to a climax on Good Friday.

It is a climax which reveals the tragic flaw in humanity, but then is answered by invincible loving power of God on the third day.

Jesus is raised to life, the life that was his before he took human form.

And his being raised to that life opens the opportunity for humanity, whose nature he assumed in fullest measure, also to be raised into life with him and the Heavenly Father.

Every year, at this time, Christians relive those events, first in an anguish over the fallen state of humanity and its wickedness that now crucifies so many of its members, as it crucified Jesus, and then in the unmerited joy of the resurrection of Jesus, “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed”.

Many of us can hardly bear now to listen to the news.

Day by day there are fresh miseries, disasters, and tragedies.

The day I write this article I am asking myself “how much longer must the people of Syria suffer?”, “must the children of West Africa die of starvation by the thousand?” and, nearer home, “must those who are unemployed, those who depend on benefit allowances, those who can’t afford the deposit for a house for their new family, students who will complete their university course with a debt of tens of thousands, must they pay for the greed of the bankers?”

The poet William Blake in his verse Jerusalem, which we sing as a hymn, deplored the blight of “those satanic mills”, the forerunners of the industrial revolution, which condemned so many to soul-destroying working conditions.

Visualising those hideous skyscrapers of the banks overshadowing the dome of St Paul’s cathedral, I mentally rewrite Blake’s words “and was Jerusalem builded here, among these dark satanic mills?” to read, “among these tall Millbankian towers?”

They surely are children of the Old Testament Tower of Babylon, born of arrogant pride.

Just before the words of St Paul with which I began, he asked the question “where is your wise man now, your man of learning or your subtle debater – limited, all of them to this passing age?”

Such are our Holy Week thoughts.

What does God offer us for Easter thoughts? Through the mind of St Paul, these truths.

“Divine folly is wiser than the wisdom of men, and divine weakness stronger than man’s strength.”

He invited his readers to assess themselves. “Few of you are men of wisdom; few are powerful or highly born.”

Yet, “to shame the wise God has chosen what the world count folly, and to shame what is strong God has chosen what the world counts weakness. He has chosen things low and contemptible, mere nothings, to overthrow the existing order.

“You are in Christ Jesus by God’s act, for God has made him our wisdom, He is our righteousness; in him we are consecrated and set free.”

So, “we proclaim Christ”.

Many ask us “Who are you, why should we take any notice of you? What you say is old religious superstition. We have grown out of it. We have proved there is no such thing or person as “God”.

The resurrection of Jesus is fantastic myth, no rational person can believe it.”

They do not understand that the resurrection of Jesus is not so much an historic event which we believe to have happened though it is that.

It is more an experience which we share and enjoy day by day. We are, as Paul wrote, “in him”.

Unmistakably and irretrievably we are “in him”.

The Prayer Book requires that we make our receiving of holy communion at Easter an obligation.

One of the prayers in that service is a request that we may so make that communion that, body and soul, “we may evermore dwell in him and he in us”.

The purpose of Lent has been to make room, in our time, our thoughts, our relationships, our behaviour, among our disappointments, fears, temptations, concerns for the world around us and loves for those dear to us, for Jesus, the living Jesus, to make us, each one, even more a place of his living in dwelling.

So shall our repentance for the world which is our earthly home be more profound.

And so at Easter all our grateful thankfulness for Jesus unfailing abiding in our hearts may be a fountain of irrepressible joy.

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia.