Not counting football disappointments such as England losing the European Championship final or your team getting getting relegated last season, we are facing a few truly significant challenges at the moment! How can we avoid getting overwhelmed? I would like to start with some wisdom from Anglican Bishop and prolific author, Tom Wright, in his book, “Surprised by Scripture – Engaging with Contemporary Issues”:
Once you get the resurrection straight, everything else eventually falls into place. This point was brought home to me forcefully last year when I was in a cab stuck in a London traffic jam. The taxi driver… commented on what a difficult time we Anglicans were having over the issue of women bishops. I agreed… Then came a moment I will never forget. Turning around to face me,,, he said, ‘What I always say is this: if God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, everything else is basically rock ‘n’ roll, i’n’it?’ It was a great gospel moment, and I have dined out on it ever since.
That message is at the heart of what I want to explore. The twentieth chapter of John’s Gospel is one of the most extraordinary and evocative parts of that already extraordinary and evocative book…
Right at the start of John 20 comes the note that tells us what it’s all about – … ‘the first day of the week’… When John repeats himself like this, something important is going on. His whole gospel is framed with echoes of Genesis 1… Now he says, the old week is over… As the Father finished the work of creation, so the Son has finished the work redemption. Then, on the seventh day, God rests, and God incarnate rests in the tomb, his work complete. Then – then! – ‘On the first day of the week, very early, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb’ and found it empty, because this is the first day of God’s new world, God’s new creation.
Tom Wright then goes on to connect the impossibility, then and now, of believing in both that God could and did raise his dead Son and that he could love human beings who had and do such unforgiveable things. And he says, ‘The two go together: the Easter message is the expression of that unutterable, inexhaustible love. And that is the faith that believes the resurrection is, in the last analysis, the same as the love that opens like a flower to Jesus’ love with a trembling love of its own.’
As we wrestle with all the challenges we face, including the different views we hold, and our incomprehension at the views that others hold, what ever we do, may we love one another, and others, as Jesus did and does. Amen!