Bishop Lee: A message for Holy Week and Easter
A message from Bishop Lee for Holy Week and Easter
I am never quite comfortable preparing messages for Holy Week midway through Lent; it seems to shortcut the journey. Keeping some distance between Good Friday and Easter Day seems even more important given their huge emotional contrast. Despite this they properly belong together – all of a piece in God’s purposes for humanity and indeed for all creation. Together the events of those momentous days hold together hope and a future in the face of failure and hatred.
On Good Friday we remember Jesus being betrayed, abandoned by the justice system, brutalised, scourged and eventually crucified. On that harrowing day we plumb the depths of what human beings are capable of. We are invited to see ourselves in the scenes, recognising our actions and attitudes and need for forgiveness, cleansing and rescue. We also come face to face with God’s travail and inexhaustible love for us. “Forgive them Father,” says Jesus from the cross, “for they do not know what they are doing.”
By contrast, the Sunday dawns with the mystery of an empty tomb and then breaks into a strange then glorious hope – not a vague wishful thinking or crossing fingers kind of hope, but a grave-bursting, life transforming hope which makes a difference to the everyday as well as to the future of the Universe! The raising of Jesus from the dead is no temporary revival of a body or a reincarnation. This is resurrection – a history defining event which secures an age to come. Everything now looks different, including God and the divine nature.
Although these days and their events are full of their own significance they are not meant to be separated. Without Easter Day the crucifixion of Jesus is another example of the cruelty and inhuman behaviour with which we are all too familiar. Without the resurrection there is no reason to call the Friday ‘Good’. Once again hate will have overcome and extinguished love.
Living in a world where stories of premeditated or random violence, evil and anguish surround us like wallpaper it is easy to become desensitised or cynical. Without noticing, hope is subtly evacuated from our horizons and from our hearts. Every now and again our eyes are lifted by a story or action – maybe even a movie - which declares love will trump hate, but it seems transient and illusory.
The events of the first Good Friday and Easter Day confirm our deep instinct that love will have the last word – because love had the first word. The God whose nature is love brought the universe into being will not see it end in futility.
Today as you read this, whether you feel closer to Friday’s sorrow or Sunday’s joy, may God’s Holy Spirit lift your heart and horizons through His eternal love and that power which raised Jesus from the dead.