Dear Parish Family,
“He is risen. He is not here.” (Mark 16:6)
“Do not hold me. I must go to the Father.” (John 20:17)
Of all the fears we struggle with, the fear of death is the greatest. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus grappled with his forth coming death. He had told his disciples several times that this was going to happen. Peter tried to talk him out of it. “I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:33)
Death is a fact of our mortal existence. There is no avoiding it. We try, but avoidance never succeeds. Even when it comes to our celebrations of faith, most come at Christmas and Easter. Faith, though, is about the birth, death and resurrection. When your focus is only on birth (Incarnation) and Resurrection (after life) you distance yourself from most of what we call life. Paul goes to great lengths to tell us that Jesus Christ lived as we live. Jesus exemplified that our relationship with God was not just about “after life” but living faithfully and fully in this life. Life matters. How we live our life matters. Your relationship with God is reflected in your relationships with those around you. How you live and how you face death demonstrates to the world that you get it. You know what it is to be fully alive even in death. You know the experience of the grace of God which Jesus showed on the cross. What we celebrate at Easter is that the love, compassion and the power of God lives on. Our life in Christ does not begin at death but begins now, in this life.
“Unbind him and let him go.” (John 11:44)
For me the resuscitation of Lazarus is a dramatic expression of my point (John 11). When Jesus calls Lazarus from the tomb he tells the crowd to free him from the burial shrouds. Do not let the symbols of death bind you in this life. Be free to live. “I am the resurrection and life.” Martha understood this truth to refer only to the “after life” but Jesus made the point that he was talking about now, in this life. Jesus calls us to fullness of life now which will be celebrated in the resurrection. Faithful living is a testament to our hope in Jesus Christ.
As we approach Holy Week and Easter I encourage you to fully embrace the gift of life God has offered you in Jesus Christ. To walk the way of the cross, not in fear but with resolve to demonstrate your belief in a living Gospel. A Gospel which proclaims forgiveness and freedom. A message of hope for all mankind in this world as well as the next.
Walk with God in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Fr. David Warren