New life, new hope

james lyons

Alleluia!
A word that has been, like us,
in lockdown!  It’s out again as Lent retreats
and bursting with life.
We give you thanks and praise, O God.
Alleluia!  He is risen!
Death, though it separates us from those
we love, cannot destroy love
or separate us forever.
The resurrection of Jesus is our victory
and our hope.
We give you thanks and praise, O God.
Alleluia!

Jesus’ closest companions, the ones he’d handpicked for ministry, did not believe Mary Magdalene when she ran to them with the news that Jesus was alive.

Coming to the tomb in the early morning she found the stone rolled away and no sign of the body.

She confronted a person she thought to be the gardener, enquiring, Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.  The “Gardener” spoke her name and she immediately knew it was Jesus.

Scripture Reading – John 20:11-18

Spend some time with this passage.  Hold it in the context of your “bubble experience”, your time of isolation.  How has life changed for you?  Do you feel your life diminished in any way?  Do you ask, Where is Jesus in all that is happening at the moment?  He’s where you least expect to find him.

The first witness of the resurrection was judged hysterical, out of her mind with grief.  This scepticism continued among the disciples and is still met today in those who have no knowledge of Jesus, have not develop any personal relationship with him, or cannot accept what seems to be impossible – that a dead person should come back to life.

Resurrection is a very difficult concept, yet it is the heart of the Christian message.  The Cross is the primary Christian symbol not because it celebrates death, but because it is recognised as a tree of life – a pathway to an existence without pain or suffering.  Its starkness announces freedom and hope.  Just as the empty tomb causes the mind to ponder deeply the mystery of life, the Cross demands an exploration of the meaning of suffering.

Witness in Suffering

Breaking bread and pouring wine
Stooping low and washing feet
My Saviour, Friend and Brother
You feed my need
For company and to be
Wanted for myself.

Weeping in a garden
Tortured
By the fear of tomorrow
With no one to watch with you.
Remove the selfishness that keeps me
From being there for others.

Dying on a cross
Forgiving
Those who put you there
And those broken by their panic.
Heal me from my bitterness
Teach me to forgive.

Dawn-chilled-silent-grave
Empty tomb
And too much to believe
Bring light to my darkness
Faith to my doubt
Life to my death.

[John 13: 1-15; Luke 23: 32 – 24: 12]

Through the cold, quiet nighttime of the grave underground,
The earth concentrated on him with complete longing
Until his sleep could recall the dark from beyond
To enfold memory lost in the requiem of mind.

The moon stirs a wave of brightening in the stone.
He rises clothed in the young colours of dawn.

[John O’Donohue]

Intercession

The theme of new life, new hope, invites prayers of thanksgiving – but also prayers for those for whom the lockdown has drained resources, created fear, presented unexpected difficulties…

  • Pray for yourself, your loved ones, your neighbours, your town/city/nation
  • Pray for the quick development of a cure for Covid-19 and for the scientists engaged in this work
  • Pray in thanksgiving for the gift of life – that there might be a new awareness of its value through this troubled time
  • Pray for the medical teams, upholding life while risking their own
  • Pray for the sick and the dying
  • Pray for a lasting appreciation of community and togetherness beyond this pandemic – and perhaps because of it.

Psalm 117

Alleluia!
Give thanks to the Lord for God is good
God’s love is everlasting –
My strength, my song, my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the just.
Alleluia!

Additional reading

News category: Reflections.

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