Easter Sunday – Open our World to your Hope

At the beginning of Barney Norris’s novel Five Rivers on a Wooded Plain, the author reflects on Salisbury Cathedral. He says he’s stared at the cathedral spire every night for a year as he wrote his book. Although he professes no faith himself, he is entranced by the spire, describing it as “cutting the air” like a “diagram of prayer”. He says that the Cathedral has become a symbol of hope in his life, which encourages him to stop, to look up and look beyond the everyday, and to “imagine something greater than we are”. By doing so, he says, “it demands we look outside ourselves”.

There is something in our church buildings that speak of hope, of God’s assurance that he is with us and that his kingdom of love, compassion, and peace is already here among us. No wonder it’s been so difficult for so many when we haven’t been able to enter our buildings freely. But, of course, St Paul also reminded us that we are ourselves are living temples. In other words, each one of us has the potential to be figures of hope to others in our lives. We can, like the spire in Norris’s book, take people beyond their own personal concerns and point to something greater than themselves.

Now, over the past six weeks of Lent, we have been on a journey. This has been an inward journey, as we’ve explored what God’s presence, call, love, will, compassion, and peace means to us personally. But it is also a journey which has radical outward implications. Being transformed into Jesus’s image means we are compelled to view others as he did and treat others as he did. And so now we come to Easter Sunday. The day of resurrection and hope. This hope is for ourselves, yes, but it is also hope that we are invited to share with others, not least at such a difficult time where hope is painfully lacking in so many lives.

So today, in the light of the new life of the resurrection, I want to encourage you to be that hope to others in your life. In the latest Justice League film, Superman says these words: “Hope is like your car key, easy to lose, but, if you dig around, you’ll find it close by”. So many people are digging around, looking for hope at the moment. Be that hope for them. Help people see the light in their lives. Help them see that light both in things familiar and in things long overlooked – in their home, in their families, in their daily walks, in church buildings, in music, in the countryside around them. And open their eyes to new possibilities, new challenges, new life. That is the power of the renewal that Jesus offers. That can change lives, communities, society, and the created world. This is the power of Hope.

This is the transcript of a video recorded for the Diocese of Llandaff. Click here to view video.

Opening our Lives can be purchased at any major online bookstore, including BRF, Amazon, Eden, Independent Booksellers, Church House, and Aslan.

Prayers for the Week

When we’re confronted with emptiness

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When it all goes quiet

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we want to put away going over the past

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we want to stop worrying about the future

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we can’t keep holding our burden

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we’re convinced nothing will change

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we’re terrified of losing control

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we start to be overconcerned about what others say about us

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we fail to respond to global crises

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

When we’re not quick enough to turn to you

Lord, we ask you to

Open our world to your hope

Amen

With thanks to Eleanor Williams, Christ Church, Roath Park, Cardiff for the prayers each week

Man Alive! Some thoughts on Easter morning

snowIt’s Easter Sunday and I am looking out at the snow here in North Wales. The past week of snow and cold in the UK has been truly breath-taking in its beauty, but it has also served to remind us that the world is still a place of pain and suffering. A number of people have died caught up in the worst March snowstorms in living memory, while nature itself, battling to welcome in Spring, has been ravaged and left stunned. My brother has lost a number of lambs over the past few days, as they froze to death in his field, while a friend of his fared much worse, losing over 100 sheep and lambs in one day. Furthermore, for most of us at least, the suffering which has resulted from the recent weather pales into comparison to the countless tears of pain, illness, and grief which echo daily throughout the world. Easter Sunday certainly doesn’t erase our passionate cries of ‘My God, why have you forsaken us?’

resurrectionThe resurrection of Jesus almost 2000 years ago does, however, still bring amazing, new hope to our feelings of hopelessness. After all, this wonderful event, which not one of us will ever be able to truly comprehend, guarantees both resurrection in this life and the next. ‘Every man dies, but not every man really lives’, asserts Mel Gibson in Braveheart.

In the context of this life, resurrection is when God redeems even the most dreadful situations. From stormy beginning, life bursts forth. Without winter there would be no spring, without rain there would be no growth, without crucifixion there would be no resurrection. Easter Sunday holds on to the fact that morning will break through, no matter how long, and no matter how dark, is the night. Many of us will, in time, be liberated from our present darkness, whatever we are going through personally, and find ourselves transformed in the light of the new day. ‘The cross we bear precedes the crown we wear’, claimed Martin Luther King.

Tomb-Easter

When it seems to us that there really is no light at the end of our earthly tunnel, the resurrection still guarantees us hope in the next life. Easter Sunday reassures us of the sure and certain hope of eternal life. No matter what their theology, the contemplative thinkers all agree on one thing – that, in the end, all will be well. Although everything is a mess, in the context of eternity, all is well.

In Oscar Wilde’s poem ‘The Doer of Good’, Christ sees a man crying at the roadside and recognises him as someone who, a few days earlier, he had raised from the dead to live this life again. He naturally asks him why he is crying. ‘I was dead once, and you raised me from the dead;’ he answers, ‘what else should I do but weep?’ We live in a beautiful and uplifting world, and we should always value the wonderful gift of life, but Oscar Wilde’s tale still expresses something of the wonder of the next life. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”’ (Revelation 21:4-5).