An Easter Day Reflection

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An Easter Day Reflection by the Dean of Gloucester

Jesus has been in lockdown. We are in lockdown. The world is in lockdown. Our churches and cathedrals are in lockdown. This unexperienced marking of Easter today lockdowns our joy and our common celebrations. And yet, and yet, Easter is here, and Christ is risen, Alleluia!

The word ‘lockdown’ is a not an unhelpful description of what happened to our Saviour. Sin and evil tried to lockdown life, to kill love off, but they failed. Death failed. Even in this modern plague, with so much death in our headlines, the dedication and the sacrifice of our health workers is winning the day. There is a cost, and no sermon can assuage the feelings of those who mourn, but the promise of Easter is to all.

Behind the closed stone of the tomb, in lockdown, Jesus was dead. We often think to ourselves that there was something special going on here but the reality is that, in coming to share our life by the incarnation, when the Word was made flesh, this necessitated a real death too. In experiencing life, our life, Jesus also experienced death, our death, the death not of the intensive care unit but nailed to a cross. God has been there for us and with us. What a difference it makes to us to know that God is real, has come to us, loved us, died with us, and that we shall rise with him. Alleluia!

Lockdown though still stops us from worshipping together in our churches and cathedrals. It is good that we miss this, as sometimes we take this for granted. I hope and pray that this time with spark some sense of renewal and value. There will come a day of re-opening, a day when the stone is rolled away and we find Jesus risen. The Times newspaper said in its top Leader comment yesterday that it is right that our churches are closed, as a sign of leadership and solidarity. It says it is our civic duty and that we have risen, painfully, to the challenge. Our role has been “not to fill pews but to demonstrate to local communities what was needed to protect public health”. “Throughout the country, people are risking their lives to keep others safe. They include not only doctors and nurses on the front line of medical care, but also cleaners, porters, bus drivers and supermarket workers. Only in a time of crisis are their roles being properly valued. Today gratitude should be extended also to religious congregations who understand that their concern for human welfare requires them to worship alone.’

But we are not alone, the risen Christ is with us. That is the point of Easter. We may be in domestic lockdown, but we are not in eternal lockdown. Jesus Christ provides the vaccine of resurrection. Whether at home on our own or saying good bye to a loved one via a screen, or looking up at a locked cathedral as I am now, no pandemic can take away the power of the resurrection. This is Easter, and the eternal lockdown of death is ended.

We are the Easter People, and Alleluia is our song!

Happy Easter everyone.

The Very Revd Stephen Lake.


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