Rev. Andrew Dart

PASTORAL LETTER

Beneath the cross of Jesus, 
I find a place to stand; 
and wonder at such mercy that calls me as I am.
For hands that should discard me,
hold wounds which tell me ‘come’.
Beneath the cross of Jesus my unworthy soul is won.

(Keith Getty & Kristyn Getty, StF 442)


I was once staying in a monastery and decided to take a walk in the lovely grounds.  Hidden behind a row of trees I discovered a small cemetery – it was here that generations of monks were buried.  In the little graveyard were two rows of neat crosses with simple inscriptions and looking over these humble graves was a large crucifix.  As I entered this peaceful spot I suddenly realised that there was a woman sitting under the cross.  She sat motionless on the grass and her arms were raised up in adoration towards the suffering image of Christ. She looked deep in prayer and so not wanting to disturb her, I quietly left.

As we draw near to Easter we too are invited to sit at the foot of the cross and gaze up at the suffering Christ.  We may not get to do it literally like that woman in the graveyard, but we are invited to do so in our imagination.  For it is only at the cross that our faith really makes sense.

At the cross we are firstly confronted by ourselves. As we meditate on the story of the passion we are reminded that it was human weakness that led to the execution of Jesus.  It was people’s longing for power and for keeping the status quo, it was people’s weakness when asked to stand up for something that was different, it was cowardice and fear and greed that led to Jesus’ death. These are weaknesses we all share and in our own times they continue to lead to the suffering of innocents.

At the cross we are secondly confronted by the sin of the world. Jesus’ death was partly a result of the coming together of Jewish orthodoxy and of Roman hegemony.  Jesus is caught up in the politics of his day just as many people become victims of the powerful in our own times.  When empires and doctrines clash it is always the small people who suffer.

Lastly it is only at the cross that we confront the true nature of God’s work in our world. Here God reveals to us that the only way to redeem all that is wrong in humanity and in the structures of society is through choosing the way of suffering.  It is God himself who dies on the cross, choosing there to share the cruel injustices of the poor and innocent of the world.  It is on the cross he shares our sufferings and endures our pain and dies with us.

So let us sit at the foot of the cross, and let us meditate on all that Christ has done for us.  And as we do so we can confidently know that the story does not end here at the place of execution.  Rather it ends at a tomb that is empty. The story ends in another graveyard where footsteps in the dew and a gentle voice declares that death has been conquered, the power of the earthly dominions has been defeated and that He is Risen – and with God’s mercy we will one day rise too.

 

May you have a moving and blessed Easter,             

Andy