April in The Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ 2017

Dear All,

   Before starting to train as a priest in 1986, I worked for a few months at St. George’s cathedral in Jerusalem. It was an amazing time. I went to Bethlehem, Caesarea, Emmaus and all over the Holy Land and, with bishops and archbishops coming out of our ears, it was like a great big Anglican circus.

            But the thing that has stayed with me ever since is the experience of Holy Week and Easter.

            Maundy Thursday night in the rain above the Garden of Gethsemane: watching ‘til midnight in a thicket of olive branches in the Garden of Repose; Good Friday doing the Stations of the Cross, picking our way through the crooked streets of the Old Town; but above all, going to the empty tomb in the great church of Holy Sepulchre on Easter Day itself.

           The church was heaving with pilgrims, still carrying candles with the new fire proclaiming the Resurrection. It was a joyful, noisy, excited chaos. But I clearly remember one person who was far from pleased. It was an elderly woman who, wanting to go into the Holy Sepulchre itself and not being allowed to, walked huffily off in a right strop. I almost went after her to tell her not to worry, and to say “Christ is Risen!”, and always regret that I did not (I’m not sure how positive her reaction would have been, though!).

It was as if (and maybe I’m doing her an in-justice and being unfair) she was just going as a tourist to see the sights, without letting the real experience in. She seemed to want just to see the empty tomb without encountering Him who was risen from it.

In all the bunnies, chocolate eggs and business of Easter, let us all give ourselves space to meet with our Risen Lord, to let him into our lives anew that we might be his Resurrected brothers and sisters, his Easter People with Alleluia as our song.
                                   
Alleluia!Christ is Risen!
He is Risen indeed! Allelui
     Happy Easter!
Love,
Fr. John