Easter Message from Bishop Nick:
Sunday is coming . . . but you have to go through Friday first
I grew up in a church community where it seemed we tried to get from Good Friday to Easter Sunday as quickly as possible. We celebrated the cross as God’s victory, instead of learning to live the story of God’s apparent failure or absence. We couldn’t stay with the loss and fear that is Easter Saturday: the dead Jesus in the tomb and the world collapsed. We wanted to get to the resurrection and make it all happy again.
But if we don’t stay with Good Friday and the appalling emptiness of Saturday, then Easter itself will be meaningless. We are supposed to experience it, cry through it, search through it, for hopeful resolution. And when Sunday comes we are to be surprised, bewildered - shocked even.
While we live the story in our worship and contemplation, we are also called to use it as a lens for looking attentively at our society and world. The increase in food banks, the injustices that are enshrined in our economic systems, the poverty that destroys the lives of ordinary people: all these things (and others) represent for those afflicted by them a long ‘day’ of crucifixion – a slow death of potential, health, esteem, hope. There are people in every parish who might find themselves here.
Yet, the Christian community is not simply to shout at the darkness. No, we are called to speak the truth about the things that corrupt, that nail godliness to a cross, that destroy hope and potential; and then we are called to offer a glimpse of what Walter Brueggemann calls ‘newness after loss’. This means enabling people to be surprised by Sunday when Friday and Saturday seem so endless.
So Easter is not possible without having first gone through Good Friday and Empty Saturday; but, if we stop there, we have believed the lies of the old world – that violence, death and destruction have the final word. Instead we move on to be the Church of the Resurrection – a people filled with hope, confident to live in the old world in the light of the new world of resurrection life.
But resurrection isn’t the nice, neat resolution of the horrors of injustice and pain; rather, it reinforces the compulsion of God’s people to plunge themselves into the realities of the world, willing to suffer, not escaping from it all, but unafraid: because both our living and our dying have been transformed by God who raised Christ.
So may your Easter be blessed as we celebrate the resurrection light that confounds the darkness and opens up new hope for God’s world.