It has been a challenging winter at St Benedict’s Priory at Volmoed – cold, damp, and all that under the cloud of COVID-19. So, the signs of Spring are particularly welcome.
Our church customs mostly grew up in the Northern Hemisphere. The joining of Spring with the celebration of Easter is evidence of that. Seeing buds emerge from apparently dead plants or barren earth is a wonderful metaphor for Jesus rising from the tomb – new life is a moving sign of hope.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, while Spring is upon us, Easter is a long way off. Yet lock-down has felt, in many ways, like a particularly long Lent – we’re ready for Easter. Indeed, every Sunday is meant to reflect Easter, so we don’t have to wait for months. Any Sunday will do.
Easter is emotionally complex – it is joy mixed with sorrow, life mixed with death, beauty mixed with ugliness. It is a time of dying to old and rising to new. Jesus emerged from that tomb in a form that his closes friends could hardly recognize. If COVID has been a sort of tomb, then our families, our churches, our social institutions will emerge from that tomb in a new way.
If we emerge from the devastation of COVID just as we were before, then we will have wasted a great deal of suffering. If we emerge from lockdown dedicated to rebuilding our world so that it is more just and fair, so that it more closely resembles God’s Kingdom, then God will be honored, just as God was honored through the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Of course, we’re not quite out of the tomb of COVID just yet – but we see light breaking over the horizon. Flowers are springing up at Volmoed and guests are returning in cautious numbers. The doors are being opened for corporate worship – also in careful and sensible ways. I can’t help but think Christ is Risen…