You are hereMay 2017

May 2017

As I write, we have just been through “Passion Sunday” - the fifth of Lent. The Gospel story for the Sunday is the raising of Lazarus – where Jesus brings back his friend, four days in the tomb. You can find the story in John Chapter 11. The incident is remarkable, not just because it shows Jesus with power over Death – but because it is told with great intimacy.

In her play “The Man born to be King” Dorothy L Sayers manufactures a dinner party where Jesus and Lazarus are present, after the story above. A rather gossipy kind of lady asks the question which everyone has been desperate, but too polite, to ask “What’s it like to be dead?” Lazarus gives an answer which both does and doesn’t satisfy: he speaks of this life as being the other side of weaving at a loom. Here all we see is crossed threads – there we understand the pattern, which is both beautiful and terrible. This is a pattern we have known all along – and yet it is still new to us.

An enigmatic answer – yes: in one sense it doesn’t tell us anything – and yet, doesn’t it tell us everything? Despite all the tragedy in the world, despite the terrible events with which we mar this human society, ultimately there is hope! We have a God who has plans for us – and even in the worst of circumstances, he will work to bring our good

People sometimes ask which of the Church seasons I prefer – usually thinking of Christmas and Easter. The answer always has to be Easter: although we think of the rich beauty and deep meaning of the Christmas story, ultimately Easter is deeper still. All of us are born:- but how many are raised from the dead? The Jesus story is the answer to all of the world’s problems. Ultimately we have hope.

And for those with eyes to see, that hope is deeply written into the fabric of our world: the cycle of the seasons tells the story on its own. We see the world of nature that dies in the Autumn and yet is brought to life in the Spring. Most of us are not determinists – we don’t believe that this is just accident, cause and effect. Instead we see God’s hand breathing life into the deadness. Hallelujah! The sad fact is that we mostly take this for granted, whereas we ought to be giving thanks every day of our lives.

Our two Churches have a massive ministry to the bereaved – anything up to 60 funerals are taken by us every year. The real reason is not just that our Ministers “do a good job” for the families involved – it’s that we have a deep message for those who are left behind – the God of love and life that calls us always to himself in Christ Jesus


Ian Cardinal