Reflection for this Sunday

by Anne Stewart

In this Easter season, on this Easter day we celebrate new life coming from the devastation of great loss.  We hear of Mary at the tomb, looking for Jesus and being addressed by a man she considered to be the gardener.  This person she encountered was someone she didn’t immediately recognise, until she heard him call her name.  

What are you hearing this Easter?

THIS EASTER

The season of Easter feels somehow closer and more real to me in these current circumstances.   In this strange season of confinement that we find ourselves in we are having to let go of things we have become accustomed to.  Our freedom is restricted and we have to rethink old patterns and routines.  There is a sense of handing over control of our lives, of laying something of our own freedoms aside in the hope of a better and safer world for all.  I heard our Prime Minister say recently that what will get us through this is remembering and focussing on our common mission in this time, which is, to protect the vulnerable among us.  Remembering this will help us get through the sacrifices. 

I find it mind boggling to reflect on the fact that every single country in the world (except, apparently, Antarctica) is currently dealing with the same issue.  We are all in this thing together.  I can’t think of another time, in my memory anyway, when such unity of purpose united us in this way.  I am sure that even the World Wars (which were both before my time!) did not quite encapsulate the entire world in a common fight, quite like this ‘thing’ has.  (By the way, I like to refer to the virus as a ‘thing’ so it doesn’t get ideas above its station!)  We might be dealing with the ‘thing’ in differing ways, but our need to deal with it unites us in a common cause.  This ‘thing’ truly doesn’t care about politics, race, wealth, gender, or any of those other things that we use to divide and categorise humans. 

What have you had to let go of this Easter and what have you discovered?

THE GIFT

Alongside the restrictions and changes to plans that may annoy and frustrate us, I think this time offers us all a great gift.  We may find ourselves with the opportunity to push the reset button on aspects of our lives that we have come to take for granted.   As I think about the significant gift in this, I see the opportunity to recognise and own those things that make our societies sick and to actively choose not to try and return to what we had.  I read the comment the other day that the loss of life we are currently experiencing world-wide, is nothing compared to the loss of life we are daily risking by the way we live, particularly in how we treat the environment.    We have the opportunity to push the reset button on how we trade with other countries, on how we structure ourselves economically, and socially.   Humanity can be transformed, not just restored.  Easter is about laying down, in hope and confidence in the new life that comes from letting go.  What would you like to be different or transformed as we progress from confinement?

GOING WITH THE CROWD

Just a week or so earlier Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem by a cheering crowd.  This same crowd then turned on him calling for his death.  It’s easy to see how wrong that was, we talk about it at this time of year, every year.  But we too get caught up in the cries of our times.  The things that bring us comfort often cause the planet discomfort but we close our ears to its cries because we get caught up in this thing, we call progress.  We have accepted as normal many practices that we know are unsustainable and are actually not doing us much good at all.  We have been careering down a slippery slope for some time now.  Some people have way too much and others not have enough to live healthily and contribute in a meaningful way.  The earth’s resources are being over exploited and drained.  We are making a mess of what we have been given, the sea is full of plastic, and the atmosphere is full of emissions that are changing the climate in devastating ways.  Do we want that world back, or, can we start again and learn to live in transformed ways?  Can we surrender something of what we had in order to enable new and better ways of being in this world?

In no way do I mean to diminish the tragic loss of life.  We would never choose this path as a means of enabling change.  In the same way I cannot argue that Jesus losing his life on the cross was acceptable because it led to the hope of new life for us all.  But sometimes we find ourselves in hard places, and sometimes there is new life even in these hard places.  These hard places can never squash the possibility of new life, that’s what resurrection promises.  After our time of being ‘closed down’ there will be new energy, new life, new hope.  We can speak of this with confidence because we are people of hope. 

Where are you finding signs of hope?

WHAT’S NEXT

If you continue on reading John’s gospel, after what we read today, you will find that the disciples hid away in a locked room, afraid of the authorities, afraid of the mood among the people that had contributed to Jesus’ death, and afraid of being recognised as his followers.  But while they were in that room on two different occasions Jesus came to them and offered them peace.  He did this to help them believe in him so that they would have life.  Right now, while we are isolated in lockdown, we too are met and called to new life.

How are you using this time? 

Are you able to be fully alive in whatever your lockdown bubble looks like? 

Have you noticed the colours this Autumn, the richness on offer?  

Are you relishing the quiet and the rest from the hustle and bustle? 

Are you discovering joy in new books, crafts, jigsaws, music? 

Are you simply surviving this time, dreaming of the restoration of the old or are you finding ways to be fully alive

Instead of yearning for what you have ‘lost’ are you able to fully live into what you have and be open to what might be next?

Questions for contemplation

  • What word, sentence, or phrase stood out to you in today’s reading and reflection?
  • Can you think of the things you are now doing without that you would never have considered you could have? 
  • Can we do more with this gift of time so that our future posture can be one of thriving rather than surviving? 
  • What feelings were prompted by what Anne offered?
  • Can you think of someone you can talk with about what you have been reflecting on?