As I sit here at the desk, looking at the mountain of planning, preparation and production that is going to take place this Holy Week, I stand agog at all that needs to be done. First there is the planning for the service that are going to take place this week: Maundy Thursday with the foot washing and the stripping of the appointments of the Church as well as my family who have been in France for the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge arrive home. The following morning some of the Churches here are coming together at the Cathedral to observe Good Friday and the cross. After that comes Easter Day and there is double the pleasure. I have two Eucharists to celebrate, one with the BAS and one with the BCP. I will also welcome into the life of the Church at grand total of 17 people through Baptism. Plus the Contractor is on the Cathedral roof, rearmouring, sealing and shingling it. Plus we are getting ready to host a Diocesan Synod the Friday right after Easter and we will, God willing, elect our new diocesan bishop. And to add to the fun, I have been nominated for Bishop.
Now, you might think that this list might turning into a rant or a laundry list of complaints. In the middle of all of this manufacturing and mayhem, I have found myself think about a little hill just outside the old city walls where we saw just how far God would go to reclaim us from our depravity. And I know that you might think that is rather harsh, calling human being depraved. Scripture recognizes our need for rescue and our total in ability to rescue ourselves. We need rescue. As I look at those three crosses and how those men died I can honestly say that there is no help, no health in us. We cannot pull ourselves up by our boot straps to meet God and be good. It is not in us to do so. And we are all so capable of sin and of evil. We need to be rescued.
That’s why I want to be ready for Easter: so that I can come to the Tomb and be surprised again at that depths of the love and the power that it has taken for us to be redeemed, refreshed and renewed. I want to discover the depths of that vacant tomb to recognize that Jesus is not there, he has been raised from death. I want to be reassured that because he lives, so do I. The tomb was vacant before the women (Matthew 28.1-10) arrived there. The tomb was opened for a simple reason. It was vacant already. Jesus didn’t need to be let out, we needed to be invited in. We need to see the place where he was laid and to be led there by the women who were there. We need to hear the words of the angel who spoke and made sure that we knew what God was up to – that Jesus was true to his word and that he has been raised from the dead, as he told us.
I want to be surprised by meeting Jesus on the road, or in the boat. I want to have a moment of worship of him who would rather die than live without us. I want a sacred moment to touch the hands and the feet, to know the depths of the sacrifice he made for me; not just to know that it is all real and true but so that my love and devotion can be further deepened both for Christ and for those whom he also bled. I want to know that the work that is being done, the sacrifices that are being made, the prayers that are being made are working together for the good of those who belong to Christ and the good of those who surround us.
Having had such wonders, I want to be enabled to go and tell this world that he has been raised from the dead and that means he is Lord. I want to be able to share the wonders of being in Christ’s risen presence with my brothers and sisters. I want us to come together in mission and ministry. I want us to find our Galilee so that we can worship and serve him in freedom.
Brothers and sisters, we are the best evidence of his ongoing life. It’s our dyings and risings that matter now. He lives in us. We need to live in such a way that we are offering our hearts, our lives and in doing so give ourselves to others. We need to live lives that show we have been redeemed, refreshed and renewed. We must live as people whose values and actions have been changed because we have encountered and are living in the presence of the risen Christ.
Live your liturgy, starting on that ancient hill, and then go find Jesus. Find Jesus, worship him and serve him. He did not die and be raised from the dead to spare you getting wounded. He did what he did so that we could take on his wounds and make them our own.