Beloved St John’s family
‘Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him’ St Paul’s letter to the Romans 6:8-11
We stand now within a few hours of the beginning of the most solemn festival of the Church year. Tomorrow shall begin the Paschal Triduum, the great festival of the Christian Passover. This great festival begins with the commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday, followed by the solemn commemoration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and culminating in the joyous celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection on Holy Saturday.
This Festival very solemnly takes us through the journey of Christ’s three-day journey from the night on which he entered into his Passion to the morning of his resurrection from the dead. Beyond retelling the story of Christ’s most sorrowful Passion, this great festival tells our story as well. We can often find ourselves moving between our own Good Friday and Easter to Easter moments. Throughout our lives, we can most definitely relate to experiences of losing to the lucrative comforts of proximity with the powers that be, those whom we have called friends and faithfully communed with at the ‘altars’ that are our homes. We have dealt with the sadness of loss as we have more especially in the last year, dealt with the tragic loss of the lives of friends, colleagues and family members to the Coronavirus, some of whom have died in the line of duty while serving patients in hospitals throughout the country. We come to celebrate our own easters as well, with each new opportunity to encounter and appreciate the gift of life anew as we celebrate constantly the achievements and milestones of our lives; birthdays, new job opportunities, a newborn baby, newly found love, new friendships found and the restoration of broken relationships, to name but a few.
The Paschal Triduum highlights for us an important and highly significant truth of our lives; that we are constantly called through death, to encounter and appreciate new life. As we commemorate Our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, we come to encounter our own reality as well. From our conception to the moment we die to this life, we constantly face and experience different ‘deaths’ and different moments of Passion which lead us to encounter new life in our ‘Resurrection moments.’ In our Mothers’ wombs we live in ‘water’, and as that water breaks so ends our life in the womb. We come to be configured with Christ in the Sacrament of Baptism; thereby dying to the desire to tend towards unjust powers that corrupt and defile what God has created and turning towards the redemptive love of God in communion with the whole Church living and departed. Furthermore, as we continue to grow in our pilgrimage of life, we are constantly letting go of things in order to take up new things, breaking with the past as we step into the future and breaking from past hurts to realize through them the moments of hope and restoration. Death ultimately finds us at the end of this life, only once again to serve as the portal through which we must journey to the life of the world to come, which we affirm as we rehearse the words of the Creed of Nicea, the undisputed teaching of the Church; ‘we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.’
Through death, we believe that we come always to find new life, the fullness of life which liberates and invigorates us and moves us towards the way of love; love that holds us, protects us and demands of us to share with the world.
Last year we were unable to celebrate this great Festival of the Church because we were in hard lockdown; in fear of the rapid spreading of the COVID19 virus. Today we look forward with joy and hopeful anticipation, to celebrate this Feast. We stand together at this point having lost a lot in the past year, having had to let go of a lot and so we are grateful to be in a different position this year. Let our gratitude be communicated in how we celebrate this great Feast. May our celebration of the Paschal Triduum be characterized by us living the great mystery of Easter. Beyond our attendance at solemn liturgy, let us break bread in love with our families and friends, seeking every opportunity to communicate with utmost genuineness our deep devotion to the same. Let us hold each other through the continuing anxieties and losses of the pandemic we face, seeking always to restore each other’s hope in the promise of new life that awaits us beyond the darkness of this time of uncertainty and fear. Just as we exalt the cross, our hope, so may we come to remember that the cross itself without love is meaningless and so our lives without that same love are rendered meaningless. As we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection which marks our triumph over the darkness of death, so may we remember that it is the love of God ultimately that was powerful enough to action the Resurrection, and it is that same love that will continue to move us in the way of right living, wholeness and new life in Christ through the loving service of all around us.
May you have and live a blessed and joyous Easter, strengthened and encouraged by the redemptive love of God, and may the Resurrected Christ be seen in all your actions, be heard in your words and encountered through your service.
With love and blessings,
The Rev’d Fr Thapelo Masemola