He Is Risen!

An extraordinary reversal of the way society operates occurs within this simple Easter story. To begin with, the soldiers whose job is to be brave in the face of danger faint with fear. The women, though fearful, face the earthquake, and the radiantly terrifying angels, listen to them and obey their orders. Who are these women? The first mention of them occurs at the crucifixion where they remained with Jesus through the humiliation of the cross. They had stood, faithful in love, in the midst of a murderous crowd. Now, after his death, they had come to express their grief by sitting by the tomb. Until the crucifixion Matthew had not mentioned them. It seems that they have slipped under the radar of ‘important people in the Gospel’. Yet these unimportant ones are the first preachers of the central belief of Christian faith. Another sign of their lack of importance is the fact that as women they were not regarded as suitable witnesses in Jewish Law.

With them, we see the marginalised made central to the Christian faith. These are the kind of people Jesus called ‘blessed’ in the Beatitudes. They are the poor in spirit, the ones who mourn, and they are the ones who see the first fruits of the Kingdom of Heaven. Somehow they had the ability to see past all the distractions to love that the other disciples had gotten caught up in: self-preservation, desire for fame, glory and influence. These women wanted to love and to be loved: to them was given the mission to preach his Resurrection. Within our own circles we know people on the margins: the elderly, sick, the lonely, those suffering from dementia, people overwhelmed by the challenges of life, even people in prison. This list can go on. Christian tradition has honoured service of these people: not because it gives us, who are strong and influential, an opportunity to give from our largesse but rather, with these people and through their eyes, we can see what is truly central to our faith: to love and be loved. When we love with them, we will see the Risen Jesus coming to met us.

Adapted Living Liturgy 2020

In Christ Alone!

emptytomb1When someone whom we love dies, we begin to tell stories about them. The memories of the things they said, the images of the way they looked and acted, flood our minds in the midst of our grief. The stories begin to take shape very soon and they may live on with great vitality. In the beginning, when the grief is still fresh and raw, the stories remain inside of us. It hurts too much to express them aloud. But eventually they are spoken, and in their speaking we begin to find healing.

In our Gospel today, we meet meet Mary Magdalene and two of the disciples – Peter and ” the one whom Jesus loved” – as they come to the tomb on their early morning pilgrimage . It is difficult to know exactly what they were thinking, but they must have been deeply shaken by Jesus’ violent death. The stories must have already begun to take shape in their minds and hearts. Perhaps they were still too frightened, and too overwhelmed, to utter these stories aloud, even to one another. After all, it had become dangerous to be associated with this Jesus of Nazareth. But, in the midst of their grief and fear, the memories of who he had been and of what he had done, of the ways in which he had engaged their deepest hopes, must have cascaded over them like a powerful waterfall. [Living Liturgy 2010]

Today, rather than trying to understand,  let us simply run so that we can enter the mystery and embrace it. As we rejoice in the risen life of Jesus, we are confronted with the cost of the Resurrection – self-emptying for the sake of others. Let us be the Resurrection!

Musical Reflection

Christ Is Risen Alleluia!

This morning is so full of images – the empty tomb – the voice of angels Mary’s encounter with Jesus – the promises made through the prophets coming true it is so rich – so full – so basic to who we are as an Easter People.

Friday – sad Friday – the day we call Good Friday – is brushed aside in one glorious moment of realization one moment of startling fear and overwhelming joy – a moment of holy awe – as the significance of what is seen – and what is unseen comes crashing in.

Jesus is Risen. Death could not hold him. And if it cannot hold him, it cannot hold us.

All that Jesus said about life and death all that was understood only as idea -as a concept -as a vision is made real in that empty tomb and in that encounter in the garden.

And we today share in it.

We share in the promises made to the Children of Israel and to the entire world through the Prophets. We share in the promises made to the disciples and to all who listened to Jesus as he walked towards his death upon a cross.

We share in it -for the word that he spoke to them -and to us
— is made true and real by what we testify to this morn, it is made true by the resurrection.

What is this Easter morn?

It is God’s promise of a new day. It is God’s promise of a new life. It is God’s promise of a new world coming to pass in our midst.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

“Peace Be With You”

This isn’t Ordinary Time but a season of purposeful time. On this Second Sunday of Easter, we continue to remember the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus and marvel in the light of the Risen Lord. As we do so, we find our identity, as the body of Christ.

Eastertide is about the resurrection of Jesus; yes, but it also and perhaps especially about the new life he opens up for all in the body of Christ and the unstoppable mission on which he sends us as his disciples. It’s a mission of making sure the poor get good news, of releasing captives (and welcoming them back into our communities!), healing and restoring the sick, the lame, and the blind, witnessing to and joining the work of God’s kingdom whenever and wherever it may be found, and declaring God’s saving love and power that brings us into eternal life through Jesus Christ by our words and our actions.

We haven’t seen the risen Jesus in person with our eyes, yet many of us believe. Many of us can testify that “the Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God.” Still all of us, at times; and some of us, nearly all the time, struggle with belief, just like Thomas in the story from John’s Gospel. This story comes as a radical shift in tone. This story is for those who haven’t yet believed or seen or felt something of the resurrection of Jesus.

Three times in the Gospel the risen Lord addresses the gathered “Peace be with you.” What is this peace He brings?  It is a peace that allays fears, empowers forgiveness and prompts us to accept that suffering and death is the doorway to new life.

When we live this “Peace of Christ”, our lives are marked by self-giving, forgiveness and genuine care for the other – even our enemies. As we offer the “Peace of Christ” today, let us remember, we move from bright lights to shadows, from joyous determination to fearful confusion. And the good news in this story is that our risen Lord comes to us wherever we are, however we are, and brings us what we need to believe, never condemning us for our doubts but meeting us in them.