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Eastering in the Face of Despair.
By David Poultney in All Sorts
To celebrate and to mourn, to congratulate and to console, and this truth marked the life of the early Jesus communityEastering in the Face of Despair
This weekend the liturgy chimes notes of joy, hymns of triumph are sung, we
hear familiar tropes about the victory of life over death.
Yet I am surely not the only one to feel some dissonance this weekend, between the triumph that marks our Easter celebration and the world as it is today. For the better part of some two months now we have seen a violent onslaught by the Russian Federation on Ukraine and with that what seems to be a deliberate policy of maximising civilian deaths and a sense of terror. We have perhaps let slip from our sight other conflicts of equal barbarity in Syria and the Yemen. Away from the battlefields we find other causes for our despair, such as the possibility of a thinly veiled fascist becoming President of France. We cannot forget to the environmental degradation and climate change our species is inflicting on the World.
Might our Alleluia’s ring just a little hollow? Could Easter be a retreat into our safe space? Our little Christian bubble – a soothing place where all feels as it should. Indeed religion can be like that though at its best Methodism has always sought to be engaged with the World.
A retreat to our bubble is perhaps understandable, it might be easy right now
to trapped in despair.
How can we face things as they are, yet be hopeful? How can we be emotionally congruent? Authentic and present to things as they are and how can we celebrate Easter in the midst of it all?
St. Paul tells the church in Rome to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We cannot read about, listen to or watch others suffer without extending our compassion to them, doing what we can, praying at the very least. But we must also rejoice with those who have good news. It seems we will always know people who celebrate or suffer, just as we ourselves swing between the two over the course of our lives.
Such is the human condition, such as it has always been and we are called to be authentically present to it. To celebrate and to mourn, to congratulate and to console, and this truth marked the life of the early Jesus community; the proto Church.
When I read the accounts of those early followers of the way who abandoned the tomb of the upper-room to gather together to build communities of compassion it is clear to me they were nurtured by images of resurrection. The followers of Jesus were lifted up from a crouching or cowering position as they boldly proclaimed what they had learned from Jesus, they embrace d a way of living in hope. Let us live in such a way, and show that there is no ending, no dying that does not bring with it the possibility of newness. Let
us live with the truth of this, let this be our Eastering.