Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Cross gets in the way ...

Paschal Candle in Holy Trinity by Sharon Barnard
Earlier today I found myself sitting at the computer in the quiet aftermath of an exuberant family Eucharist, trying to put on paper - for the local paper, in fact - what this last week has been about. I have, of course, failed. With three or four paragraphs at my disposal I knew it was doomed before I started, but as I finished I found myself Tweeting that resurrection is profoundly disturbing, and it was up and there before I even knew I'd posted it. Now, as I write, I can hear the choir of King's on the telly singing "Drop, drop slow tears" - and I'm back on Friday again, and that's disturbing too. How odd to revisit the Cross - but of course, that's it. We do it all the time, and this morning's exuberance and joy was in a sense "for the children".

Where am I going with this? Let me give another snapshot, this one of a moment as we were drifting to the door at the end of this morning's Eucharist. I overheard possibly the oldest member of the congregation declare to the person next to him that he didn't care for the big cross in the choir, and her reply that she liked it but it had got in the way, rather. It came to me that there was something to be said about that ordinary remark - because the Cross does "get in the way", keeps getting in the way, and  the significance of it can be a stronger influence on people than the day of Resurrection - the day in which we all suddenly become cheerful and joyous and tell each other that Christ has risen. I think it's the sudden cheer that leaves me reeling, not sure how to be, not sure how ...

I think I'm not far off what it must have been like, back then. I cannot see how the all-too-human followers of Jesus could feel anything but exhausted and incredulous at the news that his body was no longer there, and I imagine Mary Magdalene hardly daring to hope that what had happened to her wasn't a wishful dream. In a way it doesn't matter if that's how she and they reacted - what does matter is what happened as a result of this day. The long-term view, in a way.

I can still remember my first real Easter, the first time it had an effect on me. It was in 1973, and that's a lot of Easters ago. I think I'll perhaps post about that first Holy Saturday in the scented darkness of the Cathedral of The Isles (yes - there again) but not now. And I need to write about some of the other things I hold dear. But today - God showed us something, and we stand amazed. Exhausted, and amazed. And we don't really know what to do with our knowledge ... or at least, this writer doesn't.

Resurrection is profoundly disturbing, after all.


  1. Chris this is a fine piece of theological reflection - honest, mildly speculative but rooted in scripture. Writing this while looking at the most glorious Spring sunshine and azure sky. Ressurection proclaimed by creation!

  2. Thank you, Jim - the resounding silence from all around made me wonder if I'd gone too far!