Easter 2021 - reflection from our Reader

A reflection for Easter Sunday

Martin in his Reader’s robesWhen I sat down to compose a reflection for Easter Sunday I thought I would simply repeat what I said at our Easter Service on the 12 April last year (2020). Our last Sunday service in Church had been on the 15 March and our first Sunday service via Zoom was on the 5 April. Little did we know what the coming months would bring; and what our experiences would be – for me, not all negative I would hasten to add.

I hope by repeating last year’s Easter Day Sermon it may cause you to reflect on the past year.

Looking back to this time last year 

My sermon from last Easter.

“You might not be surprised to hear that Andrew carefully plans in advance what my role will be in our services; so, in February he asked if I would like to preach on Easter Day. I readily agreed as it was probably the only major festival at which I had not preached.

However, things have changed slightly since February.  At the time, jokes were being made about the Coronavirus and there was a belief amongst some that it was something restricted to China - how wrong people were.

I struggled for a while to think what to say this morning (my original ideas from weeks ago having been shelved); and since everyone knows the Easter story, the question arose as to how I could possibly approach it differently; and as I pondered, I scribbled down three words.

Humble at being asked to preach and this has been enhanced when I listen to and read Andrew’s carefully crafted words over the last weeks or so.

Humour – the Vicar who married Diane and I, sometime in the last century, had a tradition in his Easter sermon of attempting to make his congregation laugh three times.

Hope – Easter is all about hope and this still resonates with people, even in these difficult times.

The Easter story begins in darkness; in a time of great fear, sorrow and despair.  The disciples were nowhere to be seen and were hidden away behind locked doors, fearing for their lives.  That description could easily describe the world we have been living in for the last number of weeks as the covid pandemic has taken hold.  What once was familiar has become unfamiliar and we are now in so many ways cut off from our normal routine and way of living.  Family and friends are isolated and kept apart, with doors closed to keep out an unseen enemy.

I do not know about you, but I deliberately seek out good news and for some light on the horizon.

When Jesus rose from the dead on that first Easter morning, He brought the light of hope into the darkness of despair.  The stone was rolled away from the tomb’s entrance and Jesus appeared to Mary.  Through closed doors He entered the place where the disciples were and said to them “Peace be with you.”

The Easter story may begin in darkness, but it ends in light.  From Good Friday to Easter Day; from the cross to the empty tomb; from death to life; these holy days invite us to journey inwards to seek an inner peace that only Christ can bring.

Peace and confidence in Christ encourage us, like those first disciples, to proclaim and live out the Good News that Christ is alive.  In these current times we have seen the light of the risen Christ shine out in the devotion and care shown by healthcare workers and many others on the frontline, in reaching out to help the sick; in the kindness shown by neighbours and in many simple acts of compassion carried out by countless good Samaritans.

Despite the uncertainty, the suffering and grief caused by this pandemic, our Lord is near.  We must never give up hope.  His spirit is with us, as sons and daughters of the Resurrection.

Returning to my second ‘H’ – humour; how can we find humour at this time?  Should it be acceptable to laugh when there is so much sadness?  In the work I undertake, there is a prevalent black humour – I believe that without it my colleagues would not be able to do what they do.  Even this week, when discussing a funeral with a lady who had just lost her father, I made her laugh when I said I had not seen my mother in law for a number of weeks and that we all have to make sacrifices at this time.

Although some may feel that laughter is not right at a time like this, I believe it has never been more important to use the gift of humour we have been given.  It gives us an opportunity to think about things from a different perspective, and allows us to connect with others.  Someone wrote that for connecting, laughter is the next best thing to hugging.  If we cannot hug each other, or have any physical connection, we can share a sense of humour and connect that way.

When we are able to laugh in the face of all this unknown; the bad news; and all the anxiety; when we are able to find something to laugh about – whether it is a video of our grandchildren, or something online, or the behaviour of our pets; if we can find a way to laugh with those around us, we’re reminding ourselves we are still connected; still have optimism and hope.  That is indeed an act of faith.

Returning to our Gospel reading, Mary and the disciples were transformed by the resurrection.  You can imagine them not being able to keep the smiles off their faces; and today and every day, God invites us to that resurrection joy, so we too cannot keep the smile off our faces in the light of the reality of what God has done through Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord.  Alleluia!

So, to end, two simple words that convey my wish for you all – even at this time of heightened anxiety and for some, possibly, sadness at the loss of a loved one, – ‘Happy Easter’.  Amen

So here we are, a year on.  So much has happened, we have experienced so many different emotions; and life for many has changed irrevocably.  Yet throughout the past twelve months, there has been, and there will always be, one unchanging and glorious constant in our lives.  As we read in St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13 v 8).

Martin Brown

Reader, Westbourne Parish

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