Over the past week or so I have been able to look out from windows at the back of Marown Vicarage and watch new life unfolding. A particular joy has been to see two, sometimes three, young rabbits playing a game of tag round the vegetable beds at the top of the back garden. They are full of fun, carefree and thoroughly adsorbed by the moment as they race round and round. It seems a bit of a Beatrix Potter scene and I can’t help but expect Mr MacGregor to appear any moment waving his garden fork to frighten them off.
Once the rabbits have vanished from sight, tired of their game, my eyes then begin to take in the other wonderous abundant life that is also present in that same scene. The other animals emerging, bees from their hive, our resident three chickens scratching in the soil, birds large and small flitting from tree to tree. Then there is the flora, a carpet of primroses opening up along with many other smaller flowers including a few delicate violets. There is the swathe of garlic with its pungent aroma, buds on the trees and, hopefully, the first shoots of our vegetables beginning to sprout.
This year Lent, Holy Week and Easter seem to have been taken over by the viral pandemic and measures imposed to try to limit its effects. This has diminished our perception of the joys around us. In some ways the restrictions have added an urgency and acuteness to our Lenten observances, especially as they have tightened the closer we have moved towards Holy Week and Easter Day. We have entered in a new way into Jesus suffering. Easter Eve definitely has the poignancy of watching and waiting to see what will happen next, as we await the celebration of Jesus resurrection but also as we must wait to see how the coronavirus situation will develop. Perhaps, more than ever before we can gain an insight into what the Disciples might have been feeling. All around them were people celebrating the Passover as Jerusalem thronged as collectively they remembered God’s grace towards them from times of old. It was only in the Disciples’ circle that the world seemed to have collapsed. Pilate, their religious leaders and Herod coming together to bring about Jesus execution, quashing the new life Jesus preached.
Covid 19 is the Mr MacGregor invading my garden scene, threatening to harm or even decimate life, the scourge ready to quash the joy and promise brought by Jesus. It is into this circumstance that the resurrection speaks so powerfully. It is into this scene that we can more fully appreciate Jesus words from John’s Gospel, ‘I have come in order that you might have life-life in all its fullness’ (10:10). The resurrection reassures us that sin and death will not prevail, that there is new life that cannot be vanquished because it is God-given through Jesus. Light and joy triumph.
Every generation has had its Mr MacGregor’s, its Pilate & Herod figures and its invisible but potentially deadly threats. But we have survived, God has always brought us through and will continue to do so. God has never left His people totally alone and unaided no matter how wayward humanity might have been. God is faithful even when we are not. This Easter need be no different in that respect. God is alongside each one of us during this present time of trial. This is witnessed in the many acts of help and kindness, the re-emergence of community spirit (albeit at a social distance) and belief that this crisis will end and that better times are ahead. God puts into our hearts the gift of hope. This is not a forlorn offering but a genuine out-pouring of grace, a sign of the possible new life that awaits us if we have the courage and faith to grasp it. The life that develops from this time of disease can and should be moulded by our belief in the resurrection. As Christians we are perfectly placed to work towards a more just, loving, generous and forgiving society. As we eventually emerge from our homes when this danger is past we can make Jesus teaching present in the world again. In the meantime, we remain faithful in prayer and trusting in God’s sacrificial love for us.
The season of Easter is a long and joyous time taking us to the end of May and Pentecost. By then we may be worshipping together back in church. If not God will still be with us and we can continue worshipping at a distance but together by joining for prayer at the same time as each other, daily at 9am and 6pm. Nothing needs separate us from the love of God nor our fellowship together.
I wish you a Very Happy Easter and may you find through your windows signs of God’s love and newness of life.