Sunrise at Dawn

From the Archbishop

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The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO Archbishop

Easter Day is still weeks away, yet the promise of Resurrection is already with us as we journey through Lent. The promise of Resurrection is the ground we walk on. And not just the promise of Resurrection, the reality of Resurrection. Only the truth of Resurrection, the reality, the power, the startling grace of Resurrection and renewal enables us to walk the path of repentance and transformation with joy. Only God’s self-giving in Jesus, in his birth as one of us, in his living and teaching and healing presence, in his journey to the Cross, in his death and Resurrection, makes sense of the lives we lead, the places we live, the moment in human history in which we find ourselves.

We live in God’s glorious creation, and each new day is a fresh beginning. But it is not too much to say that we are also in a dark place, a place that is dangerous and threatening, depressing times that are bleak and hard, where keeping hope alive can be well nigh impossible. We hang on for dear life when St Paul’s says the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit who lives in us and frees us from the things which enslave us (Romans 8:11,15), but time and again we are doing so by our fingertips. How can we believe enough, trust enough to go forward? Is there even a future to face? Day after day, the news is bad, anything but good, and getting worse. It seems that sin and evil have the upper hand in so many places.

The war in Ukraine, mindless destruction, horror and slaughter the likes of which was never expected to be seen again in Europe grinds on and on, even when everyone, including the instigators of this conflict, can see what a catastrophic mistake it is, what a dismal failure it is by any measure.

Speaking of Gaza, commentator after commentator have pointed out, back in October Hamas set a trap which Israel walked straight into. The world is now wondering is there any end, let alone an end worth having, as every attempt to bring some kind of reprieve to the destruction? As Gaza is reduced to rubble, with more, probably far more than 30,000 children and women and men just like us annihilated the death-dealing seems unstoppable. The responsible refuse responsibility, leaders appear to lack the courage or capacity to act. The world is now looking on frozen through the selfishness and fear being lived out, and looking on from afar people across the world are feeling helpless and impotent as evil triumphs.

These are the headlines from across the world this Lent, while those from close by keep us alert to the ongoing reality of families trying to keep up with the cost of living, housing insecurity and deepening financial anxiety. Anglicare and parishes who run emergency relief programs report a strong upsurge in those now seeking assistance, many of whom have never before needed to reach out for help in this way.

Yes, keeping hope alive sometimes seems close to impossible, and denial sometimes ensnares us all – look the other way, eat, drink, and be as merry as you can.
Another way, a very different way is the way of Jesus, walking the way of the Cross. Yes, keeping our eyes wide open to all that threatens, and also keeping our eyes fixed on God’s love and his astonishing triumph.

As we travel faithfully with Jesus through 40 days of repentance and transformation to reach Easter once more, we miss nothing and no one, opening ourselves as best we can in God’s grace to see and feel the fear and pain within and all around us. In faith and trust we can also do our level best not to miss all the glimpses of love and hope in other people and in ourselves, and particularly in those who cross our paths for whatever reason, who become neighbours to love and serve in any way we can, in whom we recognise and worship our saviour Christ who has never stopped loving. Who will never stop loving.

In Lent, even when the world seems to be running mad, we deliberately slow down, dare to look at the world and remember, day by day by day that the heart of the matter is the Cross, the cross Jesus carried which we now carry with him, the Cross we reach out and touch on Good Friday. And right here is redemption, salvation, victory, Love’s refusal to give up or give in, Love’s triumph in the most unlikely place.

In John’s account of the crucifixion Jesus dies with a cry of triumph. It is finished! It is accomplished! Everything you gave me to do, I have done!

Love is not defeated, Love can never be defeated, Love has already triumphed, Love goes on.

Here is the ground of our hope. Not our best efforts to look on the bright side. Not our struggles to convince ourselves that good will triumph over evil in the end, even with sin and death and destruction doing so well everywhere we look. Not just a promise, an unfolding reality. For hope has happened already. Hope is carrying the Cross each day, touching the Cross, sure that Love is stronger than death.

In his commentary on John’s gospel, Archbishop William Temple says nothing happens on Easter Day, on Easter Day the sun simply rises as usual, for Love triumphs on Good Friday.

We are God’s Easter people, Sunday people, Resurrection people, people of faith and hope and love, people signed with the Cross.

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