Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter Day - he is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Easter Message 

The biggest challenge is how to live with joy.

Across the world in every language, in churches, chapels and cathedrals – the shout will go up – Christ is risen. The whole body of Christ – the church – will declare that love has defeated hate, hope has danced on the grave of despair and life has overcome death. We will sing, some will dance, some will dress crosses and others will eat chocolate eggs (some of us will do all this and more!) – and at the heart of the celebration is the joy at the very centre of our faith. God does not abandon us, has not abandoned us and will not abandon us. The contrast with the bleak horror of Good Friday could not be greater – God’s good will for a newly created world has been made real.
What next? After the party, the singing, eating, dancing and wearing our Easter Sunday best, what do we do now? What does it mean to live as people of new life – to be those who live in the light of the knowledge of the resurrection? This is the challenge for us – the painful events of Holy Week are not where the biggest challenge lies – the biggest challenge is how to live with joy. How do we share good news, joyful news, and new-life news with a world that seems mesmerised by death? The cross we take up is to be bearers of joy to a world that is drawn to pain; to be bringers of glad tidings to a world that only notices disaster; to be hopeful where there is no hope. When the world thinks that the story is finished and all is done, we know things are only just beginning. How will you and your church be bearers of joy in your community and in the world? Do get in touch and let us know how you live as people of resurrection hope and have a very blessed and peaceful Easter.
Written as the London District Chairs' Easter Message

Friday, 14 April 2017

At The Foot of the Cross: Here is grace

Orlando: Good Friday.
Fused glass panel by Michaela Youngson
At Foot of the Cross

Here is Grace.

Here is grace, in all its humbling power – that love, so free and so creative, is willing to stoop so low, to ask so little, to give so much. And we look upon love’s face and find ourselves rooted to the spot. It would be so much more comfortable to deny, to hide, to run away – yet with the mothers and lovers and disciples and friends, we stay here. We look upon grace and we search our hearts, asking ourselves again ‘how can this be, that the creator of all, hangs, choosing helplessness, that I and all humanity might be loved this much?’

Here is grace, in our world where power warps the human heart, where the power-grabbers and status-hoarders will sacrifice anyone but themselves to cling on to wealth, false dignity and empty status. Here is one who lets go, who does not grab or cling or lord divinity above all others – here is one who empties himself of all power and pours love into the world. We live in a time where truth seems to be a fluid commodity and facts are cut, like cloth, to fit the desires of the story-teller. And before us hangs a person who offered truth, not fake news but good news – not for the comfortable but the poor, not for the complacent but for the passionate, not for the perfect but for those who know they need help, not for the holy but for those who long to be whole.

Here is grace, in the place where heaven reaches down and touches earth in blood-stained hands, where creation is embraced by arms outstretched, and the monarch wears a crown of thorns. All the accepted wisdom of the noblest and grandest, the student and the teacher is turned upside down, as all that to the world seems foolish, humiliating, hopeless is in fact the way to true wisdom. To be emptied of all ambition, is to be filled with all possibility; to let go of certainty is to ask new questions, to die to one’s self is to be made alive with the glory of God.

Here is grace, that love works to break down the barriers between the holy and the mundane. Love is active in freeing us from the fear of death, from the fear of hardly living at all. Love pays the price of releasing us from our limited perspectives and opening our minds and hearts to the fullness of God’s love.

Here is grace, Jesus Christ is love’s endeavour – the work of God. Jesus Christ is love’s expense – paying the personal price of loving without limit, that we might grasp a tiny insight into the enormity of God’s love for us and for all creation. So, we remain, watching the drama unfold. We remain, wondering at such grace, such love. We remain, here at the foot of the cross, because where else would love have us be?

Michaela Youngson, Good Friday 2017
Service of Reflection at Methodist Central Hall Westminster