“Do not be afraid… He has been raised”
Suzanne Cooke brings a message of hope as we all endure the disruption, and for many the grief, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.”
Today I feel I need to start at the end - the place we all head towards – the place, the moment, we know is to come. These familiar words, taken from the Matthew reading for this Easter Sunday are the moment where, having visited the tomb to attend to Jesus’ body, the two Marys find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. This is the pivotal moment in the Christian story, the moment that comes to define every other moment of Jesus’ life and ministry.
For most of us the traditions and rituals of Lent and Easter are a familiar territory. A landscape well known and well-trodden. Maybe you have been with your church many years. Maybe you are in ministry yourself and have particular habits or liturgies that are well used. These are places that feel comfortable and familiar – secure, reliable. Maybe the traditions and rituals we walk through every year almost come to ‘be’ what Easter is for us - they come to ‘be’ Easter.
Well, it’s fair to say that however this awful situation finds you in Easter 2020, it will be a Christian season like no other. Gone is the familiarity, the security, the well-worn path – and in its place, uncertainty, fear and maybe even hopelessness. And for Christians doubly displacing as we are separated from all those people, places and practices that give us our sense of security, a sense that whatever life throws at us we can rest in traditions that persist – that hold us and help us.
Frightening as it is, we know that we are living through a time that is likely to change the way we see very many things, a terrible time for the villages, towns and cities for our country and our world. Likely to change not the just way we live our lives today but for many years to come. So, as I say, wherever this awful time finds you, I believe that this Easter season, we might have a sense of where those two women found themselves on that first ever Easter morning.
This year, more than ever, might we know - might we have the courage - to experience the devastation of the cross. This year, more than ever, might we find ourselves standing a little closer to the woman at the foot of the cross, able ourselves to look into the face of Christ as he hangs there once again. And this year, because of that, might we accompany all those who know the devastation this virus brings - and for whom, this year, every day is Good Friday.
This year more than ever, might we wake on Easter Saturday with a sense of empty anger, hurt and sadness. With a sense that suddenly there is no ‘normal’, that from now on things will be very different and with a resigned understanding that we have no control over the days and weeks to come. And in our emptiness might we know something of how it feels for all those who, in the blink of an eye, have lost the ones they loved and who have little or no sense of what the future holds.
But then finally, might we this year, have confidence in the ending of our own story. Might we have the faith to banish fear from our minds and know that, as we approach the tomb the stone will be rolled away. Might we have the courageous hope to believe the words we have heard Jesus speak and know that he has been raised. And finally, might we have enough love in our hearts to know that as He was loved so we are too and that when all is said and done – all things will indeed be well.
Image by TC Perch from Pixabay
Suzanne Cooke is the vicar of four rural churches, sitting at the foot of the Cheviot Hills in the far north of Northumberland. Her call to ministry came whilst living with her family in North Norfolk and she is proud to have begun her ordained life in the Norwich Diocese.
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive and good-natured debate between website users.