Like many of you , I have just returned home from the Easter Vigil. Holy Week this year has been a great blessing to me, and I think to many in our congregation at Precious Blood. Here, then, is a little more from ‘A New Heaven’.
The New Testament positively trumpets with the heart-bursting realisation that Jesus is not dead but is alive for evermore! You can feel it as you study the pages: barely controllable grief, confronted with a truth that it dare not, cannot grasp. Then it is slowly invaded by light and certainty, peace and joy and that filling of the heart that sent them out to win everything for Christ. Jesus lives!
This is still the truth that Christians preach. I know he lives, for I, too, have met him. Like Peter, I have been unfaithful to him. Like Thomas, I have doubted him. Like the two who walked disconsolately to Emmaus, I have been foolish and slow of heart to believe. Yet I know he is alive, and he has come to me as he came to them. Like Peter, I have felt his eyes gazing with terrible and burning love into my heart and I have gone out and wept bitterly because of what I have done: I have known him in conscience. Like Thomas, I have felt his presence close to me as I have prayed, and I have reached out my hands and sought to surrender myself and all my doubts: I have known him in prayer. Like Cleopas and his companion at nightfall in Emmaus, I have felt him draw close to me at the breaking of bread in Church: I have known him in sacrament. Conscience, prayer, sacrament: these are but three ways in which he comes to us still, and there are many, many more.
Jesus lives! This is the first meaning of the Resurrection. He is not entombed on a Galilean hillside or between the pages of a book we long to but cannot believe; or in the experience of people holier than ourselves, but alive and accessible to us, if we will but seek after him. ….
Yes, this dust is bound for glory. Everything, every wounded child and every sparrow that falls to the ground in the cold of winter is, even now, being glorified. The Church exists to point men and women to the reality of what is happening now. As the old spiritual puts it: ‘We’re on our way to glory’. There is nothing else to say in Auschwitz or in the terminal ward of the cancer hospital or by the graveside on a dark Friday afternoon. There is only that. And if we felt it, if we knew it, it would bring back the whole world. Those who have been let in on the secret of the ages glow with the knowledge. The glory of that Kingdom, casts its brightness back into time and illumines the faces of those who look towards it. “For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. ” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
This then, is the final meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: it is the preview of the great future that awaits the whole of the created universe. This is why all the Easter hymns say that the Resurrection destroys death and sorrow, even ‘world-sorrow’ and bids our hearts rise with Christ.
” Can there be any day but this, / Though many suns to shine endeavour? / We count three hundred but we miss: / There is but one, and that one ever. ” (George Herbert)
A New Heaven – Richard Holloway p. 82