Tag Archives: Easter

Bono asks if we know where our soul is

bonoBono, the lead singer of the band U2 and a co-founder of the advocacy group ONE, is a contributing columnist for The New York Times and writes this week about the rhythm of the Christina faith through Easter. “I am a long way from the warm breeze of voices I heard a week ago on Easter Sunday. “Glorify your name,” the island women sang, as they swayed in a cut sandstone church. I was overwhelmed by a riot of colour, an emotional swell that carried me to sea. Christianity, it turns out, has a rhythm — and it crescendos this time of year. The rumba of Carnival gives way to the slow march of Lent, then to the staccato hymnals of the Easter parade. From revelry to reverie. After 40 days in the desert, sort of … Carnival — rock stars are good at that. “Carne” is flesh; “Carne-val,” its goodbye party. ……This is a Joy that cannot be conjured. This is life force. This is the heart full and spilling over with gratitude. “The rock star goes on to talk about the problems he had with the self denial aspects of lent, so much so that he gave up lent altogether, but loves the transcendent moment of Easter which he describes as “ a rebirth I always seem to need. Of all the Christian festivals, it is the Easter parade that demands the most faith — pushing you past reverence for creation, through bewilderment at the idea of a virgin birth, and into the far-fetched and far-reaching idea that death is not the end. The cross as crossroads. Whatever your religious or nonreligious views, the chance to begin again is a compelling idea. “• He goes on to  explain his need for soul-searching through the scriptures  and sets out a radical agenda for the world from this story of re-birth and new beginnings; “Carnival is over. Commerce has been overheating markets and climates … the sooty skies of the industrial revolution have changed scale and location, but now melt ice caps and make the seas boil in the time of technological revolution. Capitalism is on trial; globalization is, once again, in the dock. We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust. Lent is upon us whether we asked for it or not. And with it, we hope, comes a chance at redemption. But redemption is not just a spiritual term, it’s an economic concept. At the turn of the millennium, the debt cancellation campaign, inspired by the Jewish concept of Jubilee, aimed to give the poorest countries a fresh start. Thirty-four million more children in Africa are now in school in large part because their governments used money freed up by debt relief. This redemption was not an end to economic slavery, but it was a more hopeful beginning for many. And to the many, not the lucky few, is surely where any soul-searching must lead us.”

At the beginning of his ministry Jesus announced his intentions by reading from the scriptures in the synagogue- Bono chose The New York Times. Read the full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/opinion/19bono.html?_r=3

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Now you see me, now you don’t?

walk_to_emmaus_41kOscar Wilde wrote that, “Once at least in his life each man walks with Christ to Emmaus.” In the Emmaus story, the two disciples are kept from recognising the stranger who walked with them and shared in their story until the meal they shared in the evening:-“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; and he vanished out of their site.”(Luke 24, 30-31).  Then, after they had returned and told the other disciples, the risen Christ again stood amongst them. As David Runcorn points out in his book Rumours of Life; “The irony is that in the moment they decide to walk away from Jesus, Jesus appears to walk towards them…he deliberately seeks out to two disciples who are walking away from it all..and in drawing the story out of them, Jesus has the unusual experience of listening to his own obituary.” In the following few years they would get plenty of chance to share this encounter,and Jesus wanted to make sure  that they fully understood what had occurred through his death and resurrection in the context of the Jewish law and prophets.

Runcorn presents Jesus as some sort of ‘now you see me, now you don’t’ Messiah, coming and going at will who can be recognised only when he chooses to reveal himself. We haven’t had the experience of meeting with Jesus whilst he was on earth, nor with the resurrected Christ  like the two on the road to Emmaus. More importantly,  we know that our whole Christian journey is one long Emmaus Road experience ,and we know that somewhere along this path, as Wilde suggests, we will find Christ as we hold on to his promise from the last chapter of Matthew’s gospel that  Jesus is with us always, to the very end of time.

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He is risen

the-empty-tomb

In his short novel The Man Who Died , D H Lawrence  had an alternative explanation for the resurrection- that Jesus didn’t die and revived in the cool of the tomb.Lawrence himself summarized his story in a letter to a friend:
“I wrote a story of the Resurrection, where Jesus gets up and feels very sick bout everything, and can’t stand the old crowd any more – so cuts out – and as he heals up, be begins to find what an astonishing place the phenomenal world is, far more marvellous than any salvation or heaven – and thanks his stars he needn’t have a mission any more.” Does this have any basis in truth?
As Christians we see things differently, and to celebrate what this Easter Day means to many of us, I once more borrow from Ronald T Haney’s Stations of the cross, which has encouraged and sustained me through Holy week.

“The Word is risen. The word made flesh, made sin, made passion, mad death is risen…Jesus of Bethlehem. Now the eternal man. Jesus of Nazareth. Now the everlasting Galilean. Jesus of Jerusalem. Now the Lord of the universe. Jesus of Palestine. Now the saviour of the world. Jesus of Golgotha. Now the cosmic Christ…

He has risen! Creative words. Words of life.Immortal words. Words of destiny.Living words. Words of good news. And the good news is that he is alive.Now. This very moment. In my life. “I live, yet not I, but Christ is living in me.” (Gal 2:20)

He persuades us with his resurrection power to cause resurrections in the lives of others. help others to come alive. To God. To the world. To people. To themselves. To draw others to that fullness of life for which he laid down his life. “Christ now raised from the dead will never die again” (Rom 6:9).”

May you come to know the blessing of his resurrection power in you this Easter Day and may you have the faith to call on him to renew this blessing each day of your life.

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He was dead

Tonight I am off to a murder mystery evening. I have never been to one before but I know that someone will be killed, yet at the end of the evening they will be back to take their bow- it is make believe, the death will not really happen and we will all be just acting out a story for a purpose. Today is Holy Saturday-Christ is dead in the tomb, the disciples are bereft, and the world is ignorant of hope. We sit here over 2,000 years later and we know how the story ends and, because we do, there is a real danger that we fail to forget the significance of the day in between – the time he was dead and all hope was dead, the mission was over. To the people and the disciples and to the religious leaders of the day Jesus  had failed to bring in the new kingdom he talked about and was no different to  any other holy man or prophet that had been before.  As Nick Fawcett’s entry for Easter Eve in his book Daily Prayer says; ” Jesus was dead…He was laid limp and lifeless in a tomb, and a stone rolled against the entrance. Humanly speaking it was over, the end of a wonderful ministry and an unforgettable man. He had shared our life; he had shared our death. If the story was to continue, it was out of human hands- it was down to God.”

The mystery of what Christ achieved in death I will leave to the theologians, but Tarjei Park suggested  in his reflection of the crucifixion; “He was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell. What was Jesus doing in hell? He was looking for his friend Judas Iscariot. Judas had done something so wrong he could not forgive himself, and feeling incapable of being forgiven, in bitter tears of regret, he hanged himself. Well, Jesus went looking for him, and in hell he found him. He walked over to him and kissed him, and took his hand. Miracles occur in hell.”

Inscribed on a cellar wall in Cologne where some Jews has hidden for the entire duration of the Second World War were these lines:

I believe in the sun, even when it doesn’t shine. I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.

On that first Easter eve ,God fell very silent and many wondered if they would ever here from him again. No word, no sign, no hope.

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Day by Day

At the end of our Good Friday service we ended with a prayer to Christ to see him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly, day by day. This reminded my of the joyful prayer from the 1970’s musical Godspell-Day By Day.  I found this short movie clip on You Tube, and hope it brings you some joy this Good Friday- particularly if you remember the 1970’s.

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God’s Friday

entering-into-the-mind-of-godToday is the day where two worlds collide: the end of the old order of law and the very beginning through death of a new order of grace which would shape ourword for the next two thousand years. It is a day that begins with a trial and moves through suffering to death and seemingly the end of hope. It is God’s Friday.  To mark the first Easter of our millennium in April 2000 Anthony Phillipsa former Chaplain of St John’s College Oxford spoke at a three-hour Good Friday service at Truro Cathedral and invited the congregation to make the traditional seven words from the cross their own, and so enter the mind of God at the supreme love for his creation. These words, accompanied by Michael Finn’s crucifixes were brought together in 2002 in the short book- Entering into the mind of God. I invite you to read the scripture and the reflection from Anthony out load and by doing so share in the experience of entering into the mind of God on this God’s Friday.

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)- “Lord Jesus Christ, who in the poverty of your naked agony forgave those who crucified you, release us to forgive our enemies that we may know that peace, harmony, wholeness which is your will for us and all your people, each dependent on your own forgiving love. Amen.”

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43)- ” Jesus Christ, as you promised in your impotence to the repentant thief that would be with you in Paradise, give us such faith that in embracing the powerlessness of your cross, we too may find ourselves in the garden of delight to dwell with you for all eternity. Amen.”

“Woman, behold, your son!…Behold, your mother!” (John 19: 26-7)-” Lord Jesus Christ, as we thank you for the precious gift of the love of families and friends, and pray that we may every be loyal to their affection, yet so enable us to fulfill the singleness of our calling, that no one shall ever separate us from our love for you. Amen.”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)- ” Jesus, when like you we find ourselves deserted by God and facing the inexplicable, give us the courage to embrace our impotence, and in our ignorance, but preserving our integrity, passionately abandon ourselves to your Father. Amen.”

“I thirst” (John 19:28)- ” Jesus Christ, teach us not to be afraid to say I thirst, that so being dependent on you alone, we may be enabled to care for all those who call to us for help, and who in their brokenness reflect your glory. Amen.”

“It is finished” (John 19:30)- “Lord Jesus Christ, who yourself went out to embrace death, even death on the cross, teach us not to be afraid as those without hope, but so enable us to risk our lives in the power of your powerlessness, until, in your wisdom, we too can say, it is finished. Amen.”

“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23;46)-“Lord Jesus, as we have shared in your passion, making your seven words our words, enable us by embracing your brokenness to enjoy with you that wholeness which is the resurrection life, and so be partakers of your eternal expression of love both here and in eternity. Amen.”

In conclusion as we reflect on these words we look forward to his resurrection on Easter day and in doing so we celebrate the fact that “The resurrection is not something that occurred once long ago; it occurred and occurs wherever we allow God the conditions to carry out his creative work, in those who take up his cross and follow into the stillness and the silence that completes its work.”

“Almighty God, whose Son hung dead upon the cross, give us the courage to enter into the stillness and the silence that followed his crucifixion, that you may perform your creative work in us, so that we may be partakers in your son’s resurrection both now and for ever. Amen.”

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Stations 7-9

large395Station 7- Jesus falls for the second time-He falls again. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34). His perfection is his father’s will. Even if it means this humiliation. This degradation. The cosmic Lord plunging into the dust of this tiny particle of his vast creation. Barely able to concentrate. Pain. The crashing pain of universal sin scattered throughout every cell of his divinely sensitized body. Humiliation. Degradation.

Station 8- Jesus comforts the women- Weeping. Was it really? Some women. With their children. Weeping. he stopped. “There was following Jesus a great crowd of people and among them were some women who were bewailing and lamenting him” (Luke 23:27). Even in his agony, he would find words for others.

Station 9- Jesus Falls the third time- He falls again. Such a short distance from his last fall. Pain is now torture. This fall. It seems so final. “….all the kingdoms of the world…I will bestow on you if you prostrate yourself in homage before me” (Matt 4:8-9). He would not. he did not. He had his mission: His father’s kingdom,,,,of peace and unity, of justice and love. He lies there. His mission flashes before him.

With thanks to the Rev T. Ronald Haney from his book The Stations of the Cross.

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