The Easter Concert I went to last night was breathtaking…
I went because I knew one of the singers, it was raising funds for a good cause and I thought it might help me start to swap mentally from a busy period at work during Lent into a deeper spiritual focus on death and resurrection over Easter. I had no idea how great a decision it would turn out to be!
As the notes of the singers soared above me and echoed around the church, I was transported – taken through the medium of music back to different time and place. The selection and the variety of music offered presented multiple different perspectives and I found myself reflecting anew on just how incredible the Easter story is:
This is GOD – the creator, the breath of life, the source of being and truth – submitting to unimaginable, gut-wrenching agony - out of love for us.
This is the King of Heaven, raised high - not on a throne but on a tree - crucified like a common criminal.
This is the innocent one, reviled, despised and spat upon by all of us, by our pride, our greed, our many sins and refusals to follow the ways of God, both small and large.
This is love and peace - hated, judged and violently killed.
This is the aggrieved one, the suffering one, the lamb, the innocent scapegoat – who somehow forgives us all.
This is the kingdom bringer, the hope of the world – unrecognised, unappreciated, destroyed by human hands.
This is God who goes before us. God who creates a way where there is none. God who truly suffers, who truly knows what it is to be human.
I reflect on the pain and love of this God.
The pain and love of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, begging God to take this cup of suffering from him, and yet agreeing, in the end, to walk this torturous path, bravely and without complaint.
The pain and love of his mother, watching him from a distance as his flesh, once part of her own body, is torn and pierced, as the life drips from it.
The pain and love of Peter, as the cock crows and Jesus looks at him, knowing the depths of his denial and cowardice. (And yet one day he will lead the church.)
The pain and love of Jesus’ friends and disciples, as they watch what seems to be the end of all their hopes – as they see their Messiah, their long-awaited king, enter the tomb - and they scatter in fear.
I creep, metaphorically, to the bottom of the cross and watch in wonder as Jesus, God, true God of true God, cries out in despair “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I am struck afresh by the humanity of this God. That God really does understand. Everything.
That God even knows what it is to wonder if God is really there? Or if we have been abandoned to suffer alone? God even knows what it is to wonder if there really is a point, if the suffering has meaning, to wonder if God is there when it hurts?
Easter reminds us that God is always there. God always cares, and always understands.
What an amazing gift!
Yet it is a gift that comes with a price – that we too must do likewise.
Until Christ returns, it is our sacred responsibility to deeply see and respond to the suffering of others - to see and to act.
Jesus does not leave us alone in our suffering. He is with us, even to the cross.
How else can we respond but by ourselves showing the same solidarity to all who suffer?
We are called to wipe away all tears, to bring the least into the place of the first, and to work together to end the poverty, inequality and disease. To bring the light of Christ into the darkness, and to see the face of God in all people.
In death and resurrection Jesus leads us to a path of hope - a journey of death to self and a life lived for others - that we are called to follow deeply…
A new and hopeful kingdom that is born in the accumulation of our everyday actions.
Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.