Superintendents' Easter Letter

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As Easter approaches I seem to always mention how easy it is to go from the Hosannas of Palm Sunday to the Alleluias of Easter Day if we do not make space on the way to contemplate the suffering of Jesus on the cross. 

In many ways, I think I say it to remind myself as much as anyone else! 

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This year, that message resounds ever more powerfully. We are all deeply aware of the suffering in our world and the indiscriminate killing of innocent people. I think we come to understand why Saint Paul spoke of always preaching Christ crucified.

As we ponder the cross, we encounter the holy one who gives himself in complete self-emptying and solidarity with the suffering people of our world. The power of the cross continues way beyond that first Good Friday in Jerusalem and becomes the central message of the Gospel for those first followers and, often, martyrs of the Early Church. The paradox of faith contains within it the great mystery that God is fully present in the whole of human suffering and pain. It’s no wonder that the evangelists called it Good News and proclaimed that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3.16

When the Risen Christ appears to the disciples, he continues to bear the scars and wounds of his suffering and death. The Alleluias of Easter Sunday are born out of the transformational power of God that embraces all human suffering.

As we journey through Holy Week, from the Mount of Olives and the last night of Jesus’s life to Calvary and his death on the cross, may we become more deeply aware of the grace and compassion of God that awaits us there, and may the great Alleluias of Easter remind us that death and suffering do not have the final word, but are transformed by the renewing love of God’s eternal presence with us.

Every blessing,

Nick, Alison and Neil

 

In the early days of lockdown, curious to discover more about a prayer that Rev. Ian Howarth shared in District Worship Online I subscribed to the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Daily Meditations coordinated by Father Richard Rohr, a wonderful contemporary writer, mystic and teacher (see cac.org. if you are interested in subscribing). I have found them inspirational, wonderful and challenging. 

Father Richard wrote the following poem in response to the collective suffering of the people of Ukraine.

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How can we not feel shock or rage at what is happening
to the people of Ukraine—
As we watch their suffering unfold in real time
from an unfair distance?
Who of us does not feel inept or powerless
before such manifest evil? In this, at least, we are united.
Our partisan divisions now appear small and trivial.

Remember what we teach: both evil and goodness are,
first of all, social phenomena.
The Body of Christ is crucified and resurrected
at the same time. May we stand faithfully
Inside both these mysteries (contemplation).

In loving solidarity, we each bear what is ours to carry,
the unjust weight of crucifixion,
in expectant hope for God’s transformation.
May we be led to do what we can on any level (action)
to create resurrection! 

The people of Ukraine have much to teach the world.

Superintendents' Easter Letter