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Basking in Joy

March 26, 2016

Health Warning: This is best left until Easter Morning!

I’ll tell you a story: Cast your mind back, if you can, 20 years to the mid 1990s. I was a curate learning how to be a minister in a beautiful market town just beneath the North York Moors. There was a family not far from where we lived; a family having troubles; a family that left their toddler outside to roam, and of course they left their dogs to do the same. We were looking for a dog at the time and we heard that one of their dogs had had a litter again, but they had already drowned all but two of the pups.

We went straight over hoping to save at least one of the pups. They were going to keep one, “For the baby to play with”, but we could have the other. They weren’t bothered which we took, we could choose. I wanted to take both but in the end we chose.

That was our wonderful little dog – Holly. We loved her and watched her grow. I chased her round the back garden playing with her before she was old enough to go out. I remember the first time we went up the mountain behind the house, she just ran and ran. We didn’t go that far but her poor paws were hot. She didn’t even seem to notice she was so excited. Holly was loving, and obedient; very quickly coming back whenever called.

Then it happened. We were coming down out of the forest, into the field before the road we had to cross before our house. Then in the distance I saw Holly’s sister out roaming with the little child. I ran to Holly but I was too late, she had spotted her sister. Holly ran, I shouted. Holly went deaf. I panicked and ran after her as fast as I could but nowhere near fast enough to catch her.

Holly went straight under the style and headed for the road. My heart sank as I saw the car coming. This couldn’t be happening – but it was. Holly was blind and deaf to everything but her sister. She never looked, she never stopped. Then there was the sound of screeching brakes, a thud and a squeal.

I felt as though someone had poured ice into my veins. This couldn’t be happening. But it was. There was the little black and white bundle in the road. The driver was getting out, visibly shocked.

I picked her up… and she licked me. Then she struggled. I put her down and she limped over to give her sister a love. She was alive. I was sure she was dead but no, there she was nuzzling her sister. We took her straight to the vet, but she had nothing worse than cuts and bruises.

I can’t explain my relief and joy to find her alive, but that must have been nothing to the feeling of those women finding the tomb empty and discovering that Jesus was alive. Holly a was little dog that I’d just started to love, not my closest friend and teacher. So their joy must have been completely overwhelming.

That first Easter morning was the beginning of the end for death and decay. Jesus’ resurrection had set those women, those first disciples, and all of us free from the curse of the fall. This morning marked the start of the end for the corruption of all creation. The creation still groans but now, because of that morning, the end is in sight. Jesus at Easter, destroyed death and gave a fatal blow to decay, and sickness and all that mars the beauty of life. Time is now limited, eternity is poised to break through into our world. Everything is changed.

All of that is true, and so much more. But that was to come. First was the joy and shock of this Easter moment. At this moment no one could believe the triumph, no one yet could understand the victory of the cross. Now was the time for confusion, and overwhelming joy. Soon the story that those women told would be proved to be true. The disciples themselves would see Jesus, but still it took time for it all to sink in.

This Easter morning I want to proclaim God’s love to the rooftops. To rush out and tell people that Jesus is alive. But I need to stop. I need to let God give me this moment of joy, pure joy. I need to spend time being overwhelmed by the news that Jesus is alive. Just as during last week I needed to walk with Jesus through the road of his suffering. I was so tempted to jump forward, to read the final page, to get to Easter but I was given the strength to stay with the pain and the loss. Now I’m so glad that I didn’t rush, because now I can really feel the joy of Easter.

Now I need to do the same again. I need to let the Easter joy sink in. The theology will come over the next few weeks, but for now my task is to bask in the all powerful love of God. I need to let the relief and joy sink into my marrow. So that when I’m called to give account of the hope that is in me, a light and a joy will come out. Then my face will light up with the memory and emotions of this morning. Then with utter sincerity and honesty I can talk about the wonderful gift of God, that is Jesus. I can share my faith, my relationship with the living God, not a theory, not a second, third or fourth hand story.

No, if I resist the temptation to rush on; if I wait now in the joy of this moment, I will know for myself the joy of Jesus’ resurrection. 2000 years will vanish in a bursting flash of overwhelming emotion, and I will be there with my sisters who found the empty tomb, with my brothers Peter, James and John, and all the others.

So, I’ll sit this Easter morning with a silly grin on my face. Exhausted by the week that has been, but bubbling over with joy.

Happy Easter.

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2 Comments
  1. Dianna permalink

    That’s it finished me off that did. Thank oh yes, it’s ok to feel the suffering because Joy, real Joy comes in the morning

  2. Hi Dianna,

    Real joy does indeed come but that does not diminish the depth of the suffering that can come first. Sorry to finish you off.

    God bless,

    Nigel.

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