By Rt. Rev. Bishop Bob Bennett
Even as a youngster, I often imagined what it must have been like to travel the Galilean countryside with Jesus, Mary, Peter and the rest. How awesome it would have been to be embedded with the crowd that followed our Lord as he fulfilled his destiny to proclaim God’s Good News of Holy Love. To be right there as Jesus taught, healed, prayed, and incessantly challenged the power elites of the day would have been something else! And one would never forget the high drama of that last week; from ‘hosanna!’ to ‘crucify him!’ And every Easter I always imagine what it must have been like to experience the burst of resurrection joy as slowly, yet inexorably, those earliest Christians began to sing their Easter Alleluias.
But alas, we were not there. We were not part of the crowd that followed Jesus about the Galilean countryside. We were not there when he shared supper with his friends for the last time. We did not flee from the pain and darkness of the Cross. We didn’t mistake him as the gardener early that morning while it was still dark and we never had the opportunity to walk along the road to Emmaus as he broke open the scriptures.
It is our destiny to live some 2000 years after the fact and that means, of course, that we see and experience Jesus in a different way; we experience Easter through the eyes of faith. I think the 2000 year gap that is our reality is why I value the Easter evening resurrection appearance (John 19.19-31) over the others (as wonderful as they all are). Locked away for fear of the authorities, Jesus suddenly comes amongst them. He then gifts the disciples (and us) three things for the journey ahead:
- Holy Peace (“Peace be with you”)
- We are to be a ‘sent people’ (“As the Father Has sent me, so I send you”)
- We are given ‘Holy Presence’ (“Receive the Holy Spirit”)
The response of the disciples is also our Easter response: “They rejoiced when they saw the Lord”. Thomas, though, needs to see and even touch the resurrected Jesus in order to make his declaration of faith: “My Lord and My God!” Jesus’ response here is really addressed to each of us these many years later: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” That’s us!
Give us, like Thomas, faith that seeks
to honor evidence
but still is open to God’s truth
and welcomes the immense
surprise that Christ will not remain
within the tomb of sense
od’s glory breaks like dawn
-Carl P. Daw Jr
Blessings this Eastertide
P.S. I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Bishop Linda Nicholls on her election as Coadjutor Bishop of Huron. Linda brings with her many gifts to the exercise of the ministry of bishop. I look forward to working with our new bishop. I know you will keep her in your prayers as she moves through the transition.
I also want to offer a heartfelt thankyou to each member of Synod who travelled to the Cathedral through terrible winter conditions. I do believe, however, that we were about God’s business that day and we did it in a mode of prayer. Thank you also to each of the candidates who accepted the nomination for the office of bishop. The future looks very exciting and we look forward to God’s plan for us as we go forward.