“in Easter love to dare to believe that in God’s love and good grace people flourish when we live our diversity.” The Rt. Rev. Kay Goldsworthy
Every year as Easter approaches the reality of the ‘crowd’ jumps out of the story as Jesus moves closer to the Cross. The scriptures the Church reads in this Great Week of our year is familiar and yet always offers new depth of mercy and life. Different people who were part of the story of those days still speak to those of us who are reading and listening to it 21 centuries later. Each year it’s a different person who speaks into my life. Perhaps one standing at the edges of the song of ‘Hosanna’ or the ugly shouts of ‘Crucify’; maybe one of those bystanders on the long trek to Golgotha as Jesus carried his cross; sometimes it can be one of Jesus’closest friends like Peter in his own trial and denial of friendship with Jesus or his mother Mary or the woman Magdalene; perhaps one of those whose feet were washed by the teacher or a disciple who falls asleep; or one of those who stood at an empty tomb or ran from it to tell the news.
These set apart days of Easter help Christians and even people who don’t much care for the Church but do care about the big questions, to reflect on what it means to be human. What it means to be part of the crowd. And what it means to want to engage in the world with hope. Questions about life and about death. Questions about whether this life is it or if is there is a life after death. Questions about how we live with people who are different from us. Questions about violence and fear and hatred alongside the great need we all know for love and understanding.
Questions which probe the big global issues which make us want to turn our faces away and weep and the issues closer to home which shock us and shake us to the core.
God’s story of love in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus is a story which asks me to dare to be not less human, and somehow a bit more precious, but rather more human. More like Jesus; more the person Jesus’ life and teaching calls forth in me. And in Easter love to dare to believe that in God’s love and good grace people flourish when we live our diversity. Welcome, forgiveness, a future not lived in the shadow of shame but in the full light of God’s love. This is the story of Jesus.
Jesus welcomed people who were different from him, people who believed in God and people who didn’t. When Jesus spoke with people he looked into them and saw the heart, soul and dignity of each one. He changed how people viewed themselves and the world. Some of the people who shouted for Jesus’ death were powerful, the kind of people who wanted to build big walls and separate people from each other. Power and truth face to face. Some of the people in the crowd on that Friday began as bystanders. Watching, not intervening, looking after themselves. Many of us know what that’s like. Still others stood close and wept. Helpless but present.
In John’s gospel Jesus’ call from the Cross, “It is finished” is a cry of completion. When Jesus stretches himself on the Cross to die, that is God’s very own self being given to the world. As Jesus dies God is inviting us not to deny who we are, but to dare to be more human. God didn’t build walls. Rather in Jesus Christ God broke down the walls that divide people, walls like hate and fear, walls like indifference and exploitation, walls that keep one group strong and another weak. This Easter let’s remember that the life we need to live as believers, as followers of Jesus Christ, as people who have experienced God’s grace, is to pray, to speak and to act for the full flourishing of people, especially those who know what it is to be thought less than human. Let’s be signs and more than that, instruments of the promise of God’s future here and now. Really human people Christ’s living body of love.