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God's Easter People

by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO | Archbishop

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God's Easter People

by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO | Archbishop

On Sunday 22 March, news came from the Federal Government that all places of worship were to close by noon the next day. On Monday morning I left the office to sit in the cathedral, to pray, to weigh this next step for us all as an invisible virus turns everything we know on its head.

There was one other person in the cathedral, a younger man who as he left looked for a place to light a candle. The votive candle stand was already roped off, only one candle in it, already lit by cathedral staff. The man looked around, then went up the steps to the lectern and using his lighter lit one of the candles flanking the open scriptures.

Had he been praying for family and friends, or himself? Had he just been made redundant, or was he, like me, simply needing to look in the face a new reality, bringing questions, confusion, heart-break, hope, before the Lord who holds us in pierced hands?

This Holy Week and Easter, the story of Jesus’ journey from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and Easter Day will be heard and lived differently from any other year we can remember.

For all its familiarity - the cheering crowds, the upper room, the foot washing, the last of so many shared meals, night trials, separation, torture, crucifixion, death and burial – the old story may seem raw indeed, speaking into our enforced physical distancing with a new poignancy.

Our sacred buildings are locked and bolted like the disciples’ hearts before the Resurrection. We cannot hear together the proclamation of the Cross, or break bread at table together when we need it most. Absence and grief and bewilderment are unwelcome companions, and our instinct is to do whatever it takes to push them aside.

When churches are closed, how do we sustain and nourish the community of faith? How do we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land, in the very different world on the other side of this pandemic? How can we lift up our hearts when we are so fearful for ourselves and for each other?

No doubt we are called to take courage and responsibility for whatever the future holds, to draw on custom and tradition with all the wit and wisdom we can muster, letting our imaginations run wild hand in hand with the Good News.

Yet, above and beyond it all, the crucified and raised Christ may be asking something simpler and deeper of us - walking with him all the way to the Cross, allowing faith to swallow up fear, following him into a brand new day.

When all is said and done, we are God’s Easter people, and alleluia is our song.

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