A Word from the Bishop

By on March 31, 2023

We are approaching the Easter season, and we are preparing to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord and the conquering of death by Jesus –  the founder and perfecter of our faith. The resurrected life can seem to greet us as a surprise. Like that first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene was shocked to see the tomb open; shocked to see the graveclothes lying there; shocked that the body was gone. Mary’s shocked blocked her from seeing who it was that was standing before her. Jesus reached out to her in her shock and said her name. Her eyes were opened.

I think too often we think of our own situation as resurrected in Christ, but not quite ready to step into that new life yet. I know I have been redeemed. I know that I am loved by God, but in some ways I think of that empty tomb as a safe place to hide: I know what God has done for me, but I am frightened of what that might mean.

In that case I imagine Jesus calls us out of the dark and cool peace of the tomb; into a riot of colour and the sound of birds and wind and the blinding light of the rising sun. You are no longer dead. You have been resurrected and that means that you must now find what it is that God has resurrected you for.

I was raised in the church that was obsessed with whether or not one was “saved”. It was a natural part of our language and I had understood clearly that I was saved from sin and death, so long as I kept to the straight and narrow road that I was always being warned about. However in all the years that I attended church, it was never made clear what I “saved” for! This question was a revelation.

The risen Jesus confronts me with a new life and this means that I have to look beyond the way I had always thought of myself, and what I had always thought about the world and my responsibility in proclaiming that new life. So….I’m risen with Jesus, and I have been given a new life. I have overcome sin and death and the grave because I have been buried with him in his death and I stand with him in the garden because I am raised with him to new life. Now what?

This is the question that faces us every Easter season. We celebrate on the day of the resurrection, but what about a few weeks later when the lilies have drooped and the brass is tarnishing again and the attendance at church as normalized after the Easter rush?

Then the good news has to grab us in a new way. The choice to leave the garden tomb is the choice to explore the new life we have been given and the new world which love has made for us. It requires risk. The risk to love, to be loved, and even to be rejected, but it also means that we face whatever cross that follows firm in the knowledge that death is a temporary inconvenience in the kingdom. It only holds us for a bit, and then we are back to living and This is why we can’t praising and preaching and caring and loving like we were before.

The drama and solemnity of Holy Week have led us to the glory of the empty tomb and can lead us to a new life with a new purpose. This is why at Easter we make our song : Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! We even learn to sing that song at our own graves because they will be emptied too.

Easter is about Christ rising from the dead, but even more so, it is about us being raised for a purpose: to live to his glory.


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