The Forest Kirk Uniting Church

April 2012: Minister’s reflection from the Rev. Dr Henry Martin

I often think at Easter that I can see more light in the sky. I’m mindful of the quality of the light from my years in the film industry (the midday advantage, for example, of the sun that’s high in the sky); also the authenticity of light in works of art, including the creative use of light. I’m not sure that I’ve seen it this year, so far, with the weather as it has been.

But there really is—particularly in the inland—an enhanced sense of sky light and a wideness of sky often accompanied by stillness and an absence of pollution in the air.
The Northern Inland of NSW—from where I initially came—is actually called ‘Big Sky Country’.

Now this notion (of more light in the sky) is, perhaps, a little bit dreamy! Yet I have to say, Easter (for me) almost always feels strangely different. Maybe it’s the natural context of seasonal change. Yet I almost sense an eternal hope in the natural world / a certain organic purity in a freshness of purpose far greater than our own!! —And even 10,000 chocolate bunnies could not change this for me!

Easter seems to say that even in what is familiar there is fresh hope and a newness that is very real! It seems to me to say that even when we are standing firm and holding fast we should still accept and allow great change in us (like proof that our heart is open), because God is wanting to draw us forward in the circumstances, and to bless us in all things!

I also sense the renewal which comes so forcefully / so directly from the Easter events… the phenomenal change from that of Good Friday to Easter Day where the horror of the real world is itself shifted / where sorrow becomes incomparable joy: And the living God shows us (convinces us) that we can overcome ‘anything’ In Him!!

The real Easter says, God—in person—takes the pain (not merely shares with us our suffering… but proactively stands in our place; intentionally and purposefully facing down all principalities and powers). It’s an initiative so singularly deliberate and unequivocal that only God could even accomplish it, except that it’s equally written into the DNA of Salvation history in reference to ‘the Lamb that is slain from the foundation of the world’. God takes the hit and the tables turn in our favour: which seems to mean we would never match our own inertia or get away from our staleness apart from the all transforming power of a love greater than our own!

I think it’s hard for us to understand what manner of ugliness it is that falls upon Jesus on the day that Christ died. Or why do we see in others what we fail to see in ourselves!? It just, somehow, becomes easier to dump all on him…to pour out contempt—indulging that heart of darkness in us that makes it easier to hate and blame and easier for us to judge and destroy another.

Yet Jesus, himself, understood this, and he bore it silently…utterly surrendering his soul to God!

I think it is just as difficult for us to recognize the miracle of God’s grace which only comes to light on Easter Day when the hand not of man but of God is shown to prevail!! —It is impossible for us to grasp the depth of His suffering. Yet all our pains and sorrows are forever changed In Him. For the triumph of light and life is absolute in Christ alone!!

Certainly the greatest difference in our existence is from what happened on Good Friday…to what happens on Easter Day. It is too amazing for words…and altogether too big for us to get our arms around.

Humankind—as you know—repels and opposes this change in us at every turning! Yet it is the renewal of our mind we so desperately desire! And this work of God fulfils the gift of God at Christmas! So even though Jesus told us many times to not be worried and to not be afraid…we (nevertheless) are afraid—by and large—to allow loves transformation to actually occur in us!! And though we may already know we are undeserving, the reality is our inherent disability or incapacity (like a stubborn pride) has, itself, been destroyed, and life in all its fullness has been laid out before us!!

So the Easter event (what it was that actually happened) is both a permanent renewal and an ongoing transformation that can occur in us in any changing season and all throughout time!

It is about a phenomenal triumph (our triumph In Christ) that goes on and on…never failing or diminishing. So now—for us—to live by faith means coming alive In Christ; alive unto eternity. It’s as sure and certain as a breath of air…or our every step on the pavement!

I’d say that even the astonishingly wonderful colours of this seasonal change isn’t a scratch on the irreversible ‘coup’ that our faithful Redeemer has fulfilled on our behalf. —Because nothing compares with what God has done and with what God has made complete for our sake.

Perhaps, after all, it is this assurance which fills my heart at Easter time / this joy that makes me think there is even more light in the sky! I’m really not sure! What I am sure about, however, is even more than one might dream of or hope for in a month of Sundays. —There’s also a small, technical matter about the necessary courage to trust, and the willingness to receive this kindness from God. —We have need to overcome this very small matter!!

May the mercy of the Lord both devastate you and permanently change you…as sure as our Easter happiness lasts a lifetime!!

THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU.

Henry C. Martin

 

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