This morning we find some women visiting a graveyard, We have all done that haven’t we? The burial was rushed, and they came to finish the job off.
A graveyard is the place we shed tears, regret and wish it were different. Or it used to be.
The tomb is empty, and the women are at a loss. Two men are hanging about. They ask, “why do you look for the living among the dead”? That wasn’t going to help with their confusion was it?
“Don’t you remember? He did tell you”. He did as well. That he would be handed over, executed but rise again. Were they supposed to take that seriously? Are we?
There are 730.000 words in The Bible but these……. “He’s been raised” These are the words that all the other words were pointing towards. Or jumping off. These are the words which changed everything.
With an empty tomb and hundreds of witnesses. With the birth of a church and the beginning of new creation. Hope is restored.
Death has not got the last word after all. Nothing is wasted or lost. Beyond repair or forever estranged.
God is not finished with the world. God is not finished with you in fact…. God has barely even started.
If Jesus is Risen. He is Lord of everything.
We are in that time between death and resurrection.
It is easy to skip over the gap in the middle.
The witnesses to the Crucifixion don’t know what is coming next.
Most of them go away not knowing.
Saturday has something to teach us about how we live well in uncertainty.
Doing only we can and only what we should.
We often over-reach.
Joseph of Arimathea did just enough.
Attending to what was possible and right but no more.
Some women do the right thing but no more.
When the very moment of the new Genesis arrives…
the moment darkness knows that it has a scrap on its hands again…
the moment our King Jesus is justified, raised.
This moment occurs in the cold and the dark.
Holy Saturday teaches us to wait.
We are not good at waiting.
Holy Saturday teaches us to trust God.
He is always up to something quite magnificent.
Even if seems like darkness to us.
On the Friday we call ‘GOOD’…
We are taken a courtroom scene this morning but really the battle between darkness and light is rumbling on just as it always has, just as it always will. John introduces us to a new tussle the one between truth and falsehood. Truth is a difficult concept once you acknowledge it has a wider meaning than simply a set of verifiable or prove-able facts.
“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asks. A reasonable question. Easily tested if Israel and Rome and the world as it looks now is all that there is.
“My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world”. Jesus is not disowning the world he shared with us – he came out of love for it after all. He IS making a declaration of independence and kingship though. He will lay his life down for the world just as he promised but he is adamant that Pilate (or anyone following him) are kidding themselves if they think that they have the controls.
Jesus explains to Pilate that the kingdom values (the truth) he embodies has a different battle strategy. Pilate represents all of the dark powers at play in the world and he only has their weapons to play with. Meeting darkness with more darkness will not work – that is a verifiable fact. Jesus is the light of the world and in a couple of days there will be dawn. Darkness and light will be separated and, again, it will be the first day (Genesis 1) but we are not there yet!
Eventually Pilate, in a corner, makes the decision that truth has to be executed. Something has got to give. Pilate arranged for a sign to tacked onto the cross with the legal charge against him. “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. Surely that was ‘fake news’? When the protests came Pilate would not budge. Perhaps he knew truth when he saw it, heard it.
Sunday is not far away now. Today, we proclaim that while darkness will continue have its moments, it is still GOOD.
Thursday in Holy Week…
“He had always loved them…and he loved them to the very end”
All of us run the risk of imagining God fitting neatly into a framework all of our own making. Liking the things we like, hating the things we hate and even forgiving only the things that we are prepared to forgive. We are good at putting things into boxes, things are safe in boxes! God is not so keen on boxes.
Jesus, to this point, is the leader of the pack. In word and deed, he has proved to us that He is King. But now the hour is near. No more clever responses to the religious leaders’ questions. No longer would he leave one place and head for another – well, not of his own accord. Today the pace and the tone changes.
Jesus is about to give everything. In humility and weakness but out of a love like no other. What does it do to your ‘boxed off’ image of God to see him on his knees? Should it really be a surprise? The God who threw off all the glory of heaven to dwell amongst us, time and time again seems to choose to need.
He wants to draw close to us as a friend and even serve. Such friendship changes us – all friendships change us. We pick up the phrases, habits, hopes and desires of even our very ordinary friends and that is what Jesus does this evening as he takes off his outer garment and takes up the stance of a servant. We catch a glimpse of what tomorrow will bring along with a radically new way to be and to do.
Come and join us this evening at 7pm Thursday 18 April 2019
Please visit the “A Church Near You” website for the latest information about all three churches. You just need to insert your postcode and the church nearest to you will be displayed. Scroll down the list to find each of the Blackley Churches.