Happy Easter! As we celebrate the central event of the Christian faith may it be a time of joy and renewal for you. We are Easter people. It is our experience of the Risen Christ being with us that gives us courage and confidence to live out our faith and to work for change and renewal in ourselves and our community. But we can only get to Easter through Good Friday and Holy Saturday. There is no shortcut and no way of avoiding the experience of death.
As I have journeyed through Lent this year I’ve spent time pondering and contemplating an old painting I found in a book I own. I’d never noticed the painting before, nor seen anything like it. At first glance it is a traditional depiction of Jesus on the Cross. What is different is that the weight of the cross, and Jesus himself, is being carried by the Father, who holds the arm of the cross with both hands. The Holy Spirit, as a dove, hovers above Jesus.
So often we have emphasised Jesus’ isolation from God and his cry “My God, My God, where are you?” even though we are also reminded by scholars that Jesus is quoting Psalm 22, and it concludes with a powerful statement of God’s presence and care. This depiction of the crucifixion reminds me is that God is present with us and caring for us whether we are aware of it or not. In our darkest times and in our joys, God is present.
In the life of the Uniting Church in this Synod – as in all churches – we face a time of rethinking. Our discipleship calls us to mission and involvement in community. Some of our ways of doing that might not succeed in quite the way we had hoped. That is part of the risk-taking often associated with innovative ministries.
At the May Synod meeting we will need to make decisions relating to the financial sustainability of our Church, a topic which is being discussed across Presbyteries and our two Congresses over the next month.
While we are an asset rich church, these changes will challenge and affect many of us, and will be painful. Will we have the courage to make difficult decisions in love for God and God’s people? What gift of new life may come?
The incoming moderator, Dan Wootton, has chosen as the theme for the next Synod: “Wait, Listen, Trust: Hope comes”.
As surely as night is followed by day, whether we expect it or not, Easter comes after Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Celebrate God’s love and grace this Easter.
Christ is Risen. Alleluia!
Isabel Thomas Dobson