Fr Andrew's Easter Message
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia
Its amazing the pastoral work a priest can do in Sainsbury’s! Helen has been working away for a few days. This means I have been shopping in Sainsbury’s for all the foods I am not normally allowed to eat! Vestments are, thank goodness, very forgiving! But on my visits, I have had a chance to meet albeit briefly, and at a distance, some people I haven’t seen for ages, which has been lovely. But on the way back to the car last week I was rather accosted, by a woman I had not met before. She was rather irate. “Where is your God in all this Covid?” she demanded. Well, it is not an easy question when you are in a car park, behind a mask – and worried about your ice-cream melting. I am not sure I did very well. But it is a good question, and one that I am sure we have all asked recently. In our Lent study group, we looked a lot at the Covenant between God and his people. We began of course with the Creation, and thence to the story of Noah. We remembered how God had, repeatedly sought to rebuild his relationship with Mankind. From the Book of Genesis, Ch 2 & 3 we recall how it all began. In an act of love, God creates Adam, a man, bearing God’s own spirit, the breath of life. God makes a beautiful garden, and he sets the man in it, to tend and take care of it. (v8, 16-17) But he makes the man free, he is able to tend and grow the garden or he can abuse it. (v17). Then, as God is in the action of creating a companion for Adam, he gives him yesterday more responsibility. As Adam names the animals, so he is given dominion over them. But the animals are not sufficient as a companion for Adam, so God creates Eve, flesh from flesh. They are to be to one another as one flesh. They are to be partners in the creative work God has given them. This theological work, working out the relationship between God, Man, and the Creation. God creates, Man tends and works (v15) We are reminded that it is part of God’s plan that Mankind is to tend, to work, to develop the garden, the world in which they live. Mankind can use their God given freedom and creativity to make the world an even better place. But mankind rebels, they abuse the gifts God has shared with them, they become selfish. (Ch3). Later, much later, after a great great deal, we see that the relationship between God and his people needs to be mended once again. God sends his own son, taking our humanity, flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone to put the relationship right and show us how love can transform and redeem everything. Jesus had been there from the beginning as John reminds us, Ch 1 : 1-3 “ In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him. Nothing that has been made was made without him. Jesus comes to show us how the world can be. Jesus experiences the darkness that can be in the world when hatred and disobedience rule. Jesus, the light of the world, descends to the darkness and through supreme love dispels the darkness and once again brings light and life. So, to answer my ice-cream melting lady, God is right in the midst of this Covid thing. It is God who has created a beautiful world. It is God who has given mankind the inventiveness and creativity to improve it and to fix it when it has gone wrong, often through the fault of Man’s foolishness and selfishness. Whether or not Mankind has at least in part brought about this terrible disease we shall probably never truly know. But this we can know: when Mankind rediscovers his God given best self, then people are cared for and healed, vaccines are developed faster than anyone dared to believe. Jesus rose from the dead, and once again walks in the garden. Mankind once again remembers that together, and with the skill and creativity God has given us, the darkness of Covid-19 can be banished. Just as the risen Jesus still bears the wounds of his crucifixion, so we and all Mankind will bear the wounds of the pandemic, the deaths, the bereavements, the fear and its effects for a very long time. Many of you too will be heartbroken that you are not able to attend Easter services. Please be assured of the prayers that have been said for you at each and every service.
With Jesus, Mankind has once again risen from the tomb. Alleluia!