Monday, 28 March 2016

'The Lord is risen'

Being on sabbatical this is the first time in nearly 30 years that I haven't preached on Easter Day. Instead I've had the unexpected luxury of simply being able to reflect on the Passion and Resurrection for myself. I crept into St John's for the 8 o'clock communion, trying to remain incognito, and the account of the resurrection from John's gospel was read. I've never really connected with Mary's tears at finding the tomb empty. Rather I've felt like Peter and John who look inside, see what has happened, believe and then go home. Perhaps it's a 'man thing' - it's like my idea of a good shopping trip: know what you want, find it straight away, buy it and go home.

But there have been tears this Easter...in Pakistan where scores of people were brutally murdered by Taliban terrorists targeting Christians. Just as Mary went to the tomb expecting to find Jesus but didn't, so many families in Lahore, Christian and others, went out to that park expecting to have a good time, but instead met with tragedy.

We should pray for Pakistan: first, that the government will take the security of ALL its people seriously and ensure the safety of the Christian community which has been the target of so many attacks from Islamic extremists; and secondly that through their tears our Christian brothers and sisters will again encounter the risen Lord Jesus as Mary Magdalene did.

Tom Wright comments on Mary's mistaking Jesus for the gardener; in a way this was not a mistake because Jesus appears as one who is the Lord of new life, the Lord of a new garden and new growth.

Wright is so eloquent, I can't resist quoting him at length:
Ask people around the world what they think is the biggest day of the year for Christians. Most will say 'Christmas'. That's what our society has achieved: a romantic mid-winter festival...from which most of the things that really matter (the danger, the politics) are carefully excluded. The true answer - and I wish the churches would find ways of making this clear - is Easter. This is the moment of new creation. If it hadn't been for Easter, nobody would ever have dreamed of celebrating Christmas. This is the first day of God's new week. The darkness has gone, and the sun is shining.