From the Curatage…
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
I love that Easter response that bursts out of us on Easter morning, having not let an Alleluia pass our lips for the whole of Lent. But we have been saying it now getting on for a whole month, and it maybe loses its sparkle or freshness. Are we still supposed to be enthusiastic about the resurrection?
Well, according to the church calendar, yes. Easter is a season that lasts 50 days – which means that, writing this at the end of April, we’ve still got a few weeks to go – until the Ascension, which we celebrate this year on 13 May. And I wonder whether, this year in particular, we are more in need than ever of grasping the joy and magnitude of the resurrection? And I wonder whether it took Jesus’ disciples all of those fifty days – the sight of a scarred body that they’d last seen hanging on a cross appearing out of nowhere, walking and talking; the meals on the beach, walking together, the hugs and touches on the shoulder, the conversations about scripture and what it all meant – all that life together, to fully understand what had happened? To begin to believe that the trauma and finality of the crucifixion and death of Christ was not, beyond all rationality, the end of the story. To begin to live beyond the grief and fear that they had experienced. I wonder whether it was only after those fifty days of community, of reassurance, that the disciples were ready for Jesus to ascend to the Father, had the confidence and assurance to go out and proclaim the Good News of Christ’s resurrection?
And I wonder whether the same might be true for us? Whether we might need the whole 50 days of being reminded, again and again, every time we go to church and worship together that Christ is risen – he is risen indeed – and for that to draw out the Alleluia! from us. Especially after this last year, with its restrictions, and anxiety, and frustration, and boredom, and loneliness. To believe that there can be resurrection after the metaphorical deaths of this pandemic.
In saying this I don’t want to distract from the very real grief that those who have lost loved ones over this last year will be feeling, whether they died from Covid or for any other reason. Their deaths, and the limitations on loved ones saying goodbye, are a tragedy, and cast a shadow that will not disappear, though it may change or ease over time.
Nevertheless, our Christian hope is that the resurrection is true, that nothing is beyond God’s power to bring new life from things and places that we were sure were dead – even when we aren’t quite sure we’re ready to believe it. Even when we’ve laid to rest the idea that we might go out shopping again, or meet up with friends, or go away, or visit family, go out for a meal, or even go back to church. It might take a little bit of time for us to believe that these things are worth the risk again – and that is ok. We have a God who knows that it takes us time to believe and hope – maybe the 50 days of this season of Easter. But in the fulness of time, as people continue to be vaccinated, and cases drop, and restrictions ease, and we begin to believe that there is life after the pandemic, I’m looking forward to seeing you out and about, and having coffee and a chat. Because Christ is still risen – he is risen indeed! Alleluia!