In the midst of our daily lives there are iconic moments when all the pain, grief and brokenness of our world break in with devastating power. Some affect local groups and others swallow us up in global grief.
As a child I remember being bewildered by the grief of adults at the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I watched on television the horror of the twin towers of the Wold Trade Centre crumbling on 9-11. I stood with a congregation in my episcopal area watching their beloved church burn down. I saw the images of the tower of Notre Dame Cathedral toppling in a glow of red flames and smoke.
Each of these events and many more are the touchstones of the pain of human life – some accidental, some due to deliberate human sin. All leaving a trail of sorrow and a pain deeper than the immediate loss. These people and places were symbols of hope – of pride – of something bigger that was possible and their loss, a sign of the brokenness we live with daily.
For Christians this iconic grief is lived every year in Holy Week through the life and Passion of Jesus Christ. The disciples and so many others caught a glimpse in Jesus of a hope that was stronger than the pain and limits of their lives. His teaching and preaching about God opened up the healing power of love and forgiveness. He demonstrated the inclusive love of God in every encounter. He empowered his disciples to share all that he shared with them. Yet, the opposition of those who felt threatened, frightened or challenged rose up and killed him. On the cross all the pain of injustice and the brokenness of human life is gathered in the body of Jesus.
As disciples of Jesus, we enter this journey into grief every year in order to understand in the deepest fibre of our being the power of Easter. The resurrection on Easter morning is God’s ultimate response to human sin and the brokenness of our world. It should take our breath away with its audacity! No pain – no grief – no injustice – no death – no tragedy is stronger than God’s love poured out over and over and over again. This is the joy we meet on Easter morning that causes us to shout – ‘Alleluia, the Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!!’ I know of no power greater than this.
The world can bind up the wounds of an assassin. It can rebuild buildings destroyed by accident or evil but the losses are signs of impermanence. These can and will happen again – fire, flood, human evil. But the power of the resurrection is a once for all defiant shout of God’s constant love that will never die and will continually lead us into new life.
May we know the power of that love renewing us to live our baptismal vows – to love God and neighbour – to serve those in need. We have all we need to face a world that turns cynical in the face of pain; that seeks self-preservation and power in a vain attempt to protect oneself or group. We stand with confidence at the foot of the cross and at the door of the empty tomb certain that love redeems all.
The cross is an icon of the pain of the world – but, more powerfully, it is the icon of the love of God who can take it all and transform it.
Be bold in living and proclaiming that Good News!
Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!