Easter message from The Reverend Canon Sam Corley, The Rector of Leeds: Easter journey out of darkness into light
Although the weather seems to have missed the memo, technically Spring has finally sprung and later this week schools across the city will be breaking up for the holidays.
Some of us will be enjoying time off work, perhaps including some kind of journey somewhere to see friends or family, or maybe for a well-deserved break.
I am at that stage of life where any kind of journey requires a fair bit of planning and becomes something of a military exercise.
Gone are the days when my wife and I could jump on a train and head wherever we fancy for a few days.
The gift of three young children and a dog with far too much energy for his own good means we now have a packing list as long as my arm.
I sometimes think it would be easier to write down the things we are leaving behind rather than the things we feel we need to take with us ‘just in case’, because ‘you never know’. And of course, even then we always forget something essential and leave something behind important.
Throughout this week churches will be following a very different kind of journey.
They will trace the steps of a man, carrying very little, as he walks away from the place he knows best and heads for a place of threat and danger.
They will follow his arrival at the city gates and how he continues, a step at a time, to walk on through betrayal and desertion, through injustice and violence until the walking finally stops and he ends up on a hill, crucified naked as a traitor: hanging in shame and disgrace as public enemy number one.
The world is a complex place. Sometimes we are astounded by what we experience of breathtaking beauty, of generous love and of abundant possibility.
But at other times we see things in ourselves and around us that confound and perplex us, things that strip us of hope and fill us with fear, things that leave us wondering if there is any point to anything and unsure about if things will ever be any different.
The story of Holy Week is about precisely all of that. It is the story of the ultimate journey of God in Jesus Christ into the worst of the world. Into all the mess, darkness and death that is too often the reality of too many in our world walks God himself. God allows the world to do its worst, walking straight into hell, so he can drain suffering to its dregs and transform evil from the inside out. And the story continues... on Easter morning the dead body walks out of the tomb. Life emerges out of death and announces the possibility of a new beginning in every ending; a fresh word when the final word has been spoken. Easter is the triumph of life and joy when it looked like death and grief had won.
And so there will be parties on Sunday. Christians will celebrate how the risen Christ continues to meet us wherever we are and how he travels with us, reminding us of his presence with us whatever is going on around us, and calling us out of darkness into his marvellous light.
So wherever we journey this week, my prayer for each of us is that we discover something new about that love that sets us free from the things that burden us and that we might move forwards knowing that light is always stronger than darkness and that life is ours for living. Have a very happy Easter when we get there.