17 April 2022
Lent and Holy Week have come to an end and today is Easter Day (17 April 2022), bringing an end to all our fears and ushering in all our hopes and joys.
I am hoping to take part in the Easter celebrations this morning in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford. But, even before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.
During Lent this year, in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning, I was reflecting on the Psalms each morning. But during the two weeks of Passiontide, Passion Week and Holy Week, I was reflecting in these ways:
1, Short reflections on the Stations of the Cross, illustrated by images in the Church of the Annunciation, Clonard, Wexford, and the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes;
2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary adapted in the Church of Ireland;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.
Station 15, the Resurrection:
Of course, traditional Stations of the Cross do not included a Fifteenth Station, However, in the Stations of the Cross on the north and south walls of the nave in Stoney Stratford, donated in memory of John Dunstan (1924-1988), Station XV depicts the Resurrection.
Beside the Stations of the Cross in the church in Clonard, a processional Cross has a central panel depicting the Resurrection.
The Crucifixion and Death of Christ is not the end.
Early on Sunday morning, before dawn on the first day of the week, the women come to the tomb with spices they have prepared. But they find the stone has been rolled away from the tomb, there is no body, and two men in dazzling clothes ask them ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen’ (Luke 24: 5). There is a similar greeting in the other two Synoptic Gospels: ‘He is not here; for he has been raised’ (Matthew 28: 6); ‘He has been raised; he is not here’ (Mark 16: 6).
Christ is still wrapped in his grave clothes, his hands, feet and side still pierced with the marks of the nails and the centurion’s lance. But this is the Risen Christ. His eyes are open, and below a bowed soldier sent to guard the grave symbolises the defeat of death.
John 20: 1-18 (NRSVA):
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘From Death to Resurrection,’ and is introduced this morning by the Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Coordinator of the Environmental Network of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. She writes:
What is the message of Easter for us when the future of Earth is under threat?
On Good Friday we feel the pain of suffering, cruelty and death – we lament the devastation of the Earth, the loss of two thirds of the world’s species in a single generation, the dying of the oceans and the destruction of the rainforests. Teeming life has turned to barren death, millions are faced with hunger from drought, floods and sea levels rise.
Where then is our Easter hope? Jesus died to save the world, the ‘cosmos’, as the Bible tells us (John 3 :16). ‘All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross’ (Colossians 1: 19-20, The Message version).
Jesus died not only to reconcile us to God and to one another, but also to bring reconciliation between humans and the whole of Creation. Believing in the resurrection does not point us to another world, it gives us hope and inspiration to work for the redemption of this one.
The prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (17 April 2022, Easter Day) invites us to pray:
Lord of All,
you defeated death so that we could live.
Guide us as we witness the power and
glory of the Risen Christ.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org