12th April 2020,
‘Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb. Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom’. Those words from one of the great Easter hymns have surely never been more relevant. But are they true? Can this old story really make a difference to us here and now, in the midst of so much grief and uncertainty?
‘The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings’ wrote the prophet Malachi, and when the New Testament writers wanted to speak about the risen Christ it was to this verse that they turned – not surprisingly, because it’s a wonderfully rich metaphor. The sun gives us life and by its light we see. ‘I believe in the resurrection of Christ as I believe that the sun has risen’, said C.S. Lewis, ‘not because I can look on it direct, but because by it I see everything else’. For the men and women who saw Jesus die and then knew him to be alive again, the experience quite simply illuminated and altered everything that had gone before: his words, his actions, his cross – all were transformed and newly understood in the light of Easter. It’s like being born again, they said; everything has become new. Once we were blind, but now we see.
And that is as true for us as it was for them, because the resurrection is not just a past event but also an ever-present reality. The risen Christ is alive for us and in us, as powerful now as then to open our blind eyes and give us new life. It may not always feel like that – there are days when we cannot see the sun, but it is still there, still a life-giving force. A Jewish prisoner wrote these words on the wall in a prison in Cologne: ‘I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I cannot feel it. I believe in God, even when he is silent’. Even on our worst days, the Easter story does not stop being true. St John makes this clear right at the beginning of his Gospel: ‘What has come into being in him – Christ – is life, and that life is the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it.’
We are Easter people, people who live in the light of the Resurrection. We are living through the darkest times that most of us have ever known, but we also see how our suffering is taken up and transformed by the cross of Christ and his rising from the dead. The words we are called to live by are life-giving and life-enhancing words: peace, joy, forgiveness, hope. By the light of this day, God has planted a seed of life in us that can never be destroyed. May the joy of Easter and the power of the risen Christ be yours today, tomorrow and always. Amen.