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Easter – the morning that death was killed

April 19, 2014

Yesterday, I had two really fun events to help me to celebrate Easter (a day early but good none-the-less) – there was the Messy Church at Thorpe Abbotts and the Easter Bonnet Parade in Harleston. These two events and today are such a contrast to the days before where I meditated again and again on the last hours of Jesus before and during his brutal death. The bitter and the sweet so close together. It is like a sweet cake with a dark chocolate centre.

That is what Holy Week and Easter together tell me. They tell me that the faith that I follow includes the bitter and the sweet. But just as with food the opposites improve the whole, like bitter chocolate in a sweet cake. So it is that having gone through the bitterness of Lent and Holy Week the sweetness of Easter can really be tasted. It is likegiving up chocolate for Lent and then tasting that first piece on Easter morning – sweetness and joy to blow the senses!

This morning I celebrate that Jesus’ work is done; the darkness in me and in my world is banished, and death itself is killed:

The Morning That Death Was Killed (Steve Turner)
I woke in a place that was dark
The air was spicy and still
I was bandaged from head to foot
The morning that death was killed.

I rose from a mattress of stone
I folded my clothes on the sill
I heard the door rolling open
The morning that death was killed.

I walked alone in the garden
The birds in the branches trilled
It felt like a new beginning
The morning that death was killed.

Mary, she came there to find me
Peter with wonder was filled
And John came running and jumping
The morning that death was killed.

My friends were lost in amazement
My father, I knew, was thrilled
Things were never the same again
After the morning that death was killed.

Let’s go back for a moment to Matthew 28.5-7: The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’

The angel said to the women after he rolled away the stone, “Do not be afraid”. Don’t be afraid the angel says to me, the bright Easter morning is here. Life is still be so full of fear, pain and darkness but for this moment at least I intend to follow the angel’s advice. I may well slip back into the fear and worry but now is Easter morning, the morning I have been preparing for throughout Lent. Now I see the gold and the light and the joy. Today, this morning, I know is the ‘morning that death was killed’, it is also the morning that fear was killed and worry too!

Today there is hope – bright and clear. There will be darkness in the future but today is bright. Today reminds me that the darkness can never overcome the light, no matter how hard it might try. Today there is a glint in my eyes, even tired eyes like these. There is a joy inside that just wants to bubble up and flow over me.

This is how I imagine those women who visited the empty tomb. There had been so much darkness and horror for them, then they met Jesus again. He was alive, he is alive – they didn’t understand it – I don’t really understand it – but it was real – it is real. Jesus was so real that they cried and they laughed both at the same time. Some things I don’t need to understand, some things are best just enjoyed. Like a good wine, or a wonderful Easter meal. I say thanks to God and to the cook, but I don’t analyse it; no I experience it, I savour it, I enjoy it to the full. To cook a good meal I would need to know what order to cook things and for how long, but they aren’t the questions to ask as the wonder is placed in front of me.

Homer Simpson, from the Simpsons had a catch phrase, “Can’t talk – eating”. That is what it is like with Easter – ‘can’t think – loving, smiling, partying’. Thinking and puzzling come later: They come after I experience the reality once again. That way the theories never get in the way of the truth and the joy of Easter. I can understand all the theology of Easter but if it isn’t here in my heart then it is truly useless; well it may save someone else but it would be just dust and ashes to me.

During Lent and Holy Week I have joined with Jesus in his pain and death, now I join with him in his triumph. Now I just want to bask in it all. It is like when my daughter was born. It was a long and difficult birth for Viv, but when it was over I just wanted to bask in it all. At that moment I didn’t want to know the science of life or of even that of child rearing, I just wanted to smile and let the joy of Elinor’s new life sink into me. I just wanted to smile and thank God for giving her to Viv and me.

Today is such a day. A day for celebrations. The dark and the bitter will no doubt be a part of my life again. But I won’t be afraid because I have celebrated the conquering of pain and death. Jesus has let me sneak a quick look at the last page of my book and I know the ending. I know that any pain that I feel will be transformed by him, I know that my death will be no death at all but only the door to full life forever.

Now I look back to the words of the angel to those women at the empty tomb. I look again and I read, “go quickly and tell his disciples”. I look back to Jesus’ words to these women and I read, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers.” I read and I know that I can’t keep all this to myself, I mustn’t be afraid, I must go and let people know the wonderful news that I have. A call to go into the world this Easter… but first…

Poem for Easter (Steve Turner)

Tell me:
What came first
Easter or the egg?
Crucifixion
or daffodils?
Three days in a tomb
or four days
in Paris?
(returning
Bank Holiday Monday).

When is a door
not a door?
When it is rolled away.
When is a body
not a body?
When it is a risen.

Question.
Why was it the Saviour rode on the cross?
Answer.
To get us
to the other side.

Behold I stand.
Behold I stand and what?
Behold I stand at the door and

knock knock.

He’s like that – Jesus keeps knocking on my heart; persuading me to let him in and change me. Jesus is like that, he is bold enough to walk right through death, then he stands and waits outside my heart – and the hearts of all people… ‘Knock knock’ The rest is up to me – The rest is up to everyone who hears.

 

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From → Martial Thoughts

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