Does an eagle get troubled by traffic? Is a whale disturbed by a hurricane? No, one soars high above it all and the other dives deep. We too are invited to explore both the depths and the heights as we follow the central events of the Easter story. Friends, are you ready?
One of my fondest memories of Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, was cutting down the palm branches in my dad’s garden. When we had gathered lots, my brothers and sisters and I would set off in procession from our house to the church, joined by our neighbours on the way. We would wave our palms, sing and dance in celebration of the day of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
On Maundy Thursday, Christians remember a very special last meal – the Last Supper which Jesus had with his disciples before he was Crucified the next day, Good Friday. At this meal, Jesus acts as their servant, he washes their feet and looks after them. ‘This is the way I want you to care for one another’, he tells them. ‘If I can do this, so can you’.
There’s a reason why we call the Christian story ‘the Good News’. There’s a reason why I tell anyone who wants to hear why this Easter season is so life-changing. That reason is a person – Jesus Christ. God identifies with all our pain and suffering because his Son Jesus suffered the worst that humanity could throw at him on that first Good Friday. He suffered that unspeakable death on the cross so that each one of us might have the opportunity to know God intimately and live lives of true freedom and justice. As my friend and former Archbishop Rowan Williams writes: ‘..wherever you are, however lost you are, however much darkness there is around you, you have not gone beyond the reach of God.’
Jesus, through his life with us and death for us, has carried out a rescue mission to bring us back into a living relationship with God. Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ came to earth not to start a new religion but to offer every human being the opportunity of friendship with God, of the possibility of His life taking shape in us, and the transformation that this brings.
Digging deep is not just about finding buried treasure but is about finding a place of deep spiritual renewal. Throughout Lent and in this wonderful season of Easter, I invite you to join me on this Pilgrim journey. There is a free app to sign up https://www.churchofengland.org/pilgrim for daily emails; each containing a short Bible reading, an invitation to reflect, a suggestion for prayer and a prompt to act. These resources can be used by anyone, at whatever stage of their faith journey.
Easter begins for me as Easter Eve draws to a close with Baptisms and Confirmations in York Minster. In the darkness the great Easter Fire is brought in and we join in the joyful Easter shout of acclamation – “Christ is Risen” and the response, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” From Copmanthorpe to Clifton, from Acomb to Acaster Malbis, I pray that we too are an Easter people.
I’ll be preaching at York Minster on Easter Sunday at 10am – all are welcome – see you there!