Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Prospect                                                                                            
The Rev'd Robert Warren
John 20:1-18  

New beginnings are marked by dramatic turns of event. 

We do our best to avoid drama, don't we, at home or at work?  Our life's plan is to build on well-known foundations.  Floods of emotion or inner personal turmoil we associate with our adolescent selves: we remember those years painfully.  Dramatic changes in our circumstances may have been linked to the loss of our first career or the death of a relationship or some other bereavement. We would walk very far to avoid that particular crossroads again.  New beginnings are associated with the death of old ways. No matter how promising the new life might be there will always be some part of us which hesitates.

In the course of Jesus' last week with his disciples and the dread and beautiful events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday we watch as good people behave badly and reasonable foundations crumble away.  We are observers of the drama of God's redeeming acts. These are acts which Jesus says God will accomplish in spite of human weakness, the rottenness of Empires and the emptiness of official religion.  Disciples are almost nowhere to be seen - one betrays Jesus, another denies him - the crowds are fickle and change sides at the drop of a hat, the Roman Procurator is weak and vacillating, the High Priest is a stooge.  Jesus is taken, he is handed over, he leaves the place where he can have power over his movements and his fate.  He is acted upon.

Typically, in the life of a parish church the events are performed in the rites of a Seder Supper, or a congregation walking around the perimeter of the church carrying palm branches or in a dramatic reading of the Passion gospel.  We become characters in a story which unfolds.  We speak the painful words which are written down in the script for us to speak:  Crucify him!  Release Barabbas! I tell you for the third time, I do not know the man!

In the dawn light of Easter morning, however, the choice of who we will be and what we shall become is restored again to us.  The women in the garden are told to tell the apostles that Jesus is going ahead of them to Galilee.  New life is afoot.  The coming Sundays contain all those stories wherein the very apostles who had been so conspicuously absent around Jesus in his Passion are told that their empty ground can be sown with new seeds, that their empty wine skins can be filled afresh with new wine - that what was past is truly past and a new beginning can be envisaged.