As I prepare this message my heart and mind are swirling with the suffering of the world, and those I know.
Daily, our television and news feeds are filled with images of the suffering of the Syrian people – victims of their own government’s brutality and the inactionof international powers.
Less noticed but no less tragic is the Kingdom of Tonga trying to rebuild after cyclone Gita.
We are also witnessing the legacy of civil war in the Sudan, water shortages in Cape Town, and political oppression in the Philippines.
Each of us will know friends and family who struggle with ageing, confronting illness, or dramatic changes in life circumstances that cause pain and heartache.
In this chapel, where I was married 24 years ago, I feel my own grief as I continue to try and make sense of the senseless death of my beloved partner.
All of this is swirling in my mind as I journey to the cross, that most unique of events in the Christian story.
As I ponder the state of the world and the meaning of the cross, I recall the words of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer as he was imprisoned by the Nazis. ‘Only a suffering God will do.’
At Easter we remember again the death of Jesus at the hands of the Roman occupiers, encouraged by the religious authorities.
Rather than use violence to further his way, Jesus’ powerful and peaceful resistance to all forms of evil leads to his death.
We remember his capacity to forgive even as he suffers. We remember his solidarity with all who suffer.
In the resurrection, God vindicates the suffering way of Jesus.
God offers the promise that fullness of life and new hope is the will of God in the face of human evil and suffering.
As I sit in this beautiful chapel, where I have worshipped and prayed for a quarter of my life, I am reminded that the beauty of the events of Easter is in God’s loving presence with us.
Because of Jesus dying and rising we can be assured that God does not forsake us.
We can face our own suffering and despair with the assurance that Jesus is our constant companion bringing new life.
We can journey alongside those we know who suffer, with the comfort that God is with us.
We can have hope that God is at work in the world, repairing creation, bringing justice and restoring broken lives – and with us as we work for justice and peace
We can have hope that the Spirit is moving throughout the world making all things new.
May this Easter season bring you joy, hope and peace.