Sin and Death have been conquered!…So?
“Alleluia! The Lord is risen! Sin and Death have been conquered.” The people at the Atheists’ Conference, taking place in Melbourne as I write this, could well think we are barmy. Sin is well and truly around, people are dying all the time – even amongst the Christians that acclaim Jesus’ victory. So just what are we Christians proclaiming at this time?
Let’s begin with death. By his return at the resurrection, Jesus transformed death from being a ‘dead end’ into a path to eternal life. In my experience of people, death holds a very tricky place in the understanding of life. Most people fear it until a short time before they die yet it is an impetus for living a richer life. How many have a bucket list of things to do before they die! Interestingly fostering new life is often high on their agenda. There are also people for whom the fear of death warps their lives, stopping them from taking healthy risks. Also, in our society, there are too many for whom death is sadly preferable to living. To all these differing groups of people, Jesus’ resurrection makes death relative. What seems an absolute, life defining moment becomes a doorway into something richer. Grasping what the change is cannot be done in theory but only in personal relationship with Jesus. He was “God with us” in his dying. Now he wants to be ‘with each of us’ as we face our dying.
Loving God, you know how death brings confusion, grief and fear to our hearts. Send us your Spirit that we may know that, in Jesus, you are with us in our dying, fill our hearts with the hope of his risen life. We ask this in his name confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb
Easter Bunnies and Easter People
The time of the Easter bunnies and chocolate over-indulgence is upon us! I’m not going to knock that. It does make Easter special and trying to grasp what Easter really is about is no mean feat. When Jesus rises from the dead, God is not saying that ‘everything is alright now,’ as though Jesus has kissed everything better when he died. In a very real sense, sin, pain, difficulties and challenges are still around and within us. So what has happened? Jesus in his dying and rising has really changed reality, has overcome sin and offers eternal life, and wants to transform the world – but it is through us and through each of our individual lives. You and me, even if we think we are not very important at all.
How can we do this? By being kind with no expectation of return, by forgiving even when people don’t deserve it (knowing that forgiveness isn’t the same as putting up with abuse), by trying to act positively even in bleak situations, by hoping for change when nothing seems to be happening. In short, the power of “Easter” is to transform the lead of our lives into the gold of God’s grace.
Loving Father, send us your Spirit that we may know how to let the new life of Jesus shine in our lives. We ask this in his name, confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb
The Quiet Resurrection
You’d think God would have done a better job of announcing the Resurrection of Jesus. Here is the most important event in human history – the overcoming of sin and death, in which the richness of divine life is offered to us – and it takes place in a backwater country to a small group of ordinary people. Even then God doesn’t swamp their lives with amazing miracles, lights, glory. No, Jesus comes into their midst, at first unrecognised, reveals himself, assures them of love and forgiveness and then disappears before they realise what has really happened. One thing he does do is to tell them to go and preach this ‘good news’ to all the world. It is only afterwards reflecting on the event and telling others of it does its wonderfulness really hit them.
God is like that in our lives. We rarely have dramatic or exciting things happen to us when we pray or go to church. If we did the churches would be packed on Sundays. No, God usually comes very quietly into our lives and we usually have to reflect on what has happened before we realise its richness and meaning. I think this is because God does not want us to be in awe of but in love with God. God wants to be friends with us, not a dazzling entertainer or powerful master. To foster this friendship, we need to take time to be with God, both alone reflecting and praying, and then praying with God’s other friends in the community, that is Church. Then, as it happened to those first disciples, the sheer wonder of the Resurrection of Jesus will come into our lives.
Loving God, send your Spirit into our hearts to reveal the mystery of love at work within us. May Jesus come into the dead and dark places of our lives and bring his mystery of Resurrection. We ask this in his name, confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb
At the beginning of Lent, I noticed a swarm of caterpillars devouring one of our gardens. The bulb leaves – big and small were a mess but before I moved in to pick, kill and spray, I remembered how Easter time here on the Capricorn Coast is the time of the butterflies. So I left the caterpillars alone, looking ugly themselves and making the garden ugly. I waited in what looked like failure.
Now it is Easter and we are surrounded by hundreds of butterflies – blues, yellows, and blacks, and of course the glorious multi-coloured Jezebels. The butterfly is a traditional symbol of the resurrection of Christ. The ugly caterpillar chewing away at the garden gives little sign of the beauty to come when it emerges from its chrysalis. Jesus beaten, tortured, rejected, dead gives little sign of the radiant life to come when he emerges from the tomb.
At the Resurrection the women are told to go and tell the disciples to remember – remember the time in Galilee when Jesus preached, healed, was transfigured, when he transformed people’s lives. In remembering the good he had done in the ordinary life of Galilee, they will start to understand the Resurrection. So it is for us. In times of failure and difficulty, we need to remember those times when God brought something totally unexpected out of our sin or failure. These are our times of Resurrection pointing to the fullness of life in Christ.
Creative God, your Spirit can make all things new, even our sin and failure. When things go wrong in our lives, may the Resurrection of Jesus fill us with courage and hope. We ask this in his name, confident that you will hear us.
Sr Kym Harris osb.