Daily Devotion 05 April 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Luke 24:1-2 ‘The Empty Tomb’

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.

As we reflect on Easter with its stone rolled away, let us imagine the various ‘stones’ that have separated loved ones this year. Many have felt entombed as if behind an impenetrable rock. Separation might have been from a loved one in a care home or hospital, or the absence of child or grandchild. Some have had to communicate through a window. Many have missed the joy of touch or an embrace. We have discovered how much we can love whilst being separated – sometimes through technology. The pain of physical separation and sense of absence can only serve to heighten the depth of our love. We have learnt to appreciate relationships in the abstract – to delight in the existence of others without physical engagement.

Sadly, many have been entombed in bereavement during this past year. They will have experienced the physical and sensory deprivation felt by those who grieve – no longer being able to touch, see or hear the reality of a loved one. Yet in bereavement, we know our love to be as strong as ever. Bereavement involves learning how to live with the pain of loss, whilst embracing a continued love that somehow has to marry both the abstract and the real.

For the women and men who shared the intensity of Christ’s short life, his sudden violent death must have invoked a kaleidoscope of emotions. After Easter there was a growing realisation that they were indeed empowered by the continued spirit of Christ – this is why Pentecost is a culmination of Easter and why for me the rolled stone is a metaphor for despair transformed into hope. Those women and men discovered the reality of loving Christ and all he represented in a more abstract way, yet a way that was just as profound and inspiring as before his death. The spirit of our departed loved ones with all that was good and true in their lives can likewise in time renew us by moving on our ‘stone’ of paralysing grief.

The loved ones of those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s also find themselves having to love in the abstract. Their situation can seem like an unreal reality – a loved one that is present yet absent, near but distant. Loved ones can use photos and music to evoke memories and precious moments of reality. These act as momentary shafts of Easter light in which a separating ‘stone’ is temporarily lifted. Mental illness in its many forms also asks of us that we discover ways of loving in the abstract as we recognise both the reality and unreality of changed minds and personalities. This loving can be so difficult but many somehow manage to achieve it due to steadfast Christ-like love.

Of course, ‘stones’ remain part of the human experience – Easter doesn’t magically remove them. What Easter can do is to shed light on the love and the life that is able to cross the seemingly abstract yet real barriers that confront and challenge us, so that hopefully they never ultimately defeat us.

by Love Maria Willis (1824-1908)

Father hear the prayer we offer: not for ease that prayer shall be,
not for ever by still waters would we idly rest and stay;
but would smite the living fountains from the rocks along our way.

Reflection © 2021 Gordon Harrison.
Image freely available online.
Hymn out of copyright.

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