FROM GRIEF TO JOY
Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we come to the conclusion of our Lenten pilgrimage and prepare for the joy of Easter.
I wish to speak to you of both grief and joy, as we struggle within our prayer and worship to make sense of the suffering we see daily before us on our television screens.
In my experience, grief is one of those things we have all lived through at various points in our lives, but it is something we wish would never visit us, because it is upsetting, destabilising and has us questioning just where we fit in the overall scheme of things.
Grief comes in many different forms, whether it be the loss of a friendship or cherished relationship; the loss of a career; anxiety about the world about us with the destruction of the environment, or the sheer horror that is the madness of war; through to the inconsolable grief from the death of a parent, a life partner or a child.
Grief can genuinely frighten us, especially when it creeps up out of nowhere and then overwhelms in such a way that all our coping mechanisms are found wanting.
Our Lenten journey this year leading up to Easter has been such a time of grieving, as we contemplate those aspects of our lives we know are not as they should be, while at the same time assessing those parts of our lives we know we must let go of, even when grief, pain and hurt remain: real, raw and unabated.
As Easter 2022 dawns, the world has changed markedly from a year ago. Millions, possibly for the first time, are today experiencing fear and insecurity, where optimism, aspiration and hope characterised their lives just a short time ago. We too are worried and unsettled, because the inescapable question persists: “What if it were us?”
At the first Easter Jesus faced a mock trial and crucifixion, despite his prosecutors finding no fault in him. After his death the followers of Jesus experienced unspeakable devastation. Yet in the midst of their grief, hope began to emerge as they recalled everything Jesus had taught them; that even death could not ultimately triumph over God’s love for them.
As we know, some women of their number announced Jesus was still among them, living in and through them. These same courageous women offered the challenge to those who doubted to come and see for themselves, that indeed Jesus was alive in everyone who chose to believe.
So it was that these earliest followers of Jesus no longer feared brutal military authority, choosing instead to daily risk their lives in order to proclaim the unshakeable faith they now embraced.
This is the Easter miracle, for as their number multiplied, no longer did believers wear the mantle of an oppressed people, but instead proclaimed a different, more courageous way of living: faith over darkness; hope over despair; love over hate. In place of their grief, they now shone as beacons of a joy that was unable to be contained.
This Easter, along with Christians everywhere, as Uniting Church people we celebrate once more as the rich beneficiaries of such unfathomable treasure. More than ever in today’s troubled environment, you and I are being called to affirm in our lives that God’s love, reflected in how we chose to live, can truly triumph over anything that comes before us. That is the essence of our joy! That is the essence of our hope!
May God’s richest blessing be with you and all those close to you this Easter! Thanks be to God!