Reflection for Easter Sunday
“Simon Peter saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple….went inside. He saw and believed.” From John 20:1-18, NIV.
“I’ve gone from building houses to building hope in people’s lives.” Dan Cant, a carpenter who lost an arm in a car crash and was fitted with a replacement. He is now in training and known as the Bionic Priest-to-be.
Like so many, I’ve been saddened to see the amount of rubbish being left behind by those celebrating being able to meet up again outdoors, although in a restricted way. Piles of it have been left scattered across parks, beaches and streets as some of the public celebrated release from lockdown but not in the best way. The rubbish could have been taken home or put into the bins available and that did happen sometimes. However, an awful lot was left scattered around for others to deal with, causing further cost to the public purse as well as risk to refuse collectors from broken glass, some drug use and the hazard of contagion from it. The rubbish needed proper disposal – but it was just left for someone else to deal with it.
That was the case for Jesus, too, who was put to death at Golgotha, just across the Kidron valley from Gehenna, the place where rubbish, waste and even dead bodies were left outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was a place of smells, maggots, death and decay and visible from Golgotha. Jesus, being crucified outside the city wall near that awful place, was mocked by some of those who witnessed this although his death would show all who drew near that there was another of dealing with the refuse, mess and nastiness of life: sacrificial love.
For that reason, the following photo shows a panel shown found dumped in a skip full of rubbish in Nottinghamshire. It was fished out by the skip operator and was sent, via his son, to St Melangell’s. On Good Friday, it was used in part of the Zoom service and, during Holy Eucharist in church today, was put into a place where it will be a reminder that Jesus took upon himself the rubbish and detritus of humanity to show that there can be a new and different way of life. He died to save life and is alive and at work in our world today – his love can’t just be chucked out and thrown away in a rubbish skip even if his effigy can.
St Melangell’s was open on a restricted basis for the first time today for a said Easter communion and on the altar today was not the usual crucifix but an empty, plain cross as a sign that the suffering and death of Jesus is over. Today, the resurrection prevails and new life begins to emerge both then and now after the pandemic. For this beloved son brings us the hope and trust that death is not the end and that a different way of life is now possible as our lives during the pandemic remind us of what we’ve missed, taken for granted or now realise is important. As lockdown eases, we’ll discover afresh what that means as a new way of living becomes possible and that may involve us asking for God’s help in getting rid of the spiritual rubbish and mess we so often accumulate. What was left in the grave of Jesus was treated carefully and led to belief in the resurrection. That same belief will enable us now to deal carefully with what we no longer need and to dispose of it properly. That’s so for Jesus too, set free from the tomb and the confines of the churches where we sometimes prefer to keep him, now enabling worship through Zoom and the media.
This will not necessarily be a happy Easter as the effects of the pandemic rumble on but it can be a blessed one as, with God’s help, hope begins to be rebuilt while our new way of life develops and we begin to emerge from what confined us. For Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
With my prayers,