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This is certainly an Easter with a difference. It may seem a contradiction to celebrate Resurrection in a world where there is so much fear and suffering. Was there ever a time where the great message of hope and reassurance that life is stronger than death are more needed?

Jesus considers we are worth dying for. We often say ‘I would die for’ something we are passionate about. I have found myself asking, when faced with serious illness and now again with this pandemic not ‘what would I die for’ but ‘Is there something I want to live for? I find there definitely is! We can all ask the same question at a time like this. What is life for me? What do I want to live for? What am I passionate about? How do I share more fully in the Risen life of God, not just in the world to come but now and here?

Having much of what is ‘normal’ taken from us can be frightening but the vulnerability it exposes can also lead us into deeper places in ourselves and our citizenship of this planet earth.

When difference like this beckons we are faced with choices. Do we go down under or do we choose life?

Our God is a living God – this theme runs right through the Bible identifying the source of life and of salvation as dynamic, full of surprises and capable of astonishing.

When they entered into the Covenant the people of Israel ‘heard the voice of the living God’ speaking out of the fire at Sinai (Deut 5:26). They knew ‘the living God is among you’ as they crossed into the promised land (Jos. 3:10). The book of Deuteronomy 30:19 has God say: ‘today I set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live’ The Psalmist prays ‘My soul thirsts for God, the living God’ (Ps. 42:2)

Christ is ‘Son of the living God’ (Mtt. 16:16). Followers of Christ understand that they are’ children of the living God’ (Rom. 9:26). Paul and Barnabas, when acclaimed as gods ,clarified that they were not but ‘we bring you good news, you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them’ (Acts 14:15).

This title calls up a sense of a God who is full of energy and spirit, alive with plans for liberating and healing, always ready for something new. It invites us to constant seeking, to new understanding, to more questions.

As Christians we believe that this Living God never ceases to offer us life indeed as today’s second reading tells us ‘we have been brought back to true life with Christ’. Jesus, in John 10:10, is recorded as saying ‘I came that you may have life and have it to the full'.

The appearances of the Risen Christ show us a God who wants to draw us more and more into the fullness of life.

But we have a choice. We can remain staring at the empty tomb or seek life among the living.

Every time we choose courage over fear, reconciliation over enmity, liberation over chains that bind, relationship over isolation, solidarity over self-centredness, passion over apathy the forces of death give way to the forces of life. We choose life

Edwina Gateley bases her poem ‘Tell Them’ on today’s Gospel.

Breaking through the powers of darkness

bursting from the stifling tomb

he slipped into the graveyard garden

to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

that I have journeyed far

into the darkest deeps I’ve been

in nights without a star.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

that fear will flee my light

that though the ground will tremble

and despair will stalk the earth

I hold them firmly by the hand

through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

the globe and all that’s made

is clasped to God’s great bosom

they must not be afraid

for though they fall and die, he said,

and the black earth wrap them tight

they will know the warmth

of God’s healing hands

in the early morning light.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,

smelling the blossomed air,

tell my people to rise with me

to heal the Earth’s despair.

Many ask ‘Where is God in all that is happening?’ and understandably so. As Christians we believe God will ‘bring treasures out of the darkness’ as promised through the Prophet Ezekiel. We will get through this, we will mourn those who die ,honour those generous people who risk their lives to see us through and hopefully be the better for it.

The Gospel today gives us the story of the empty tomb and Jesus appearing to Mary of Magdala. Mary is distraught, weeping, missing one she loved. This is where Jesus meets her , She needs to know it is he and he gives her what she needs .Calls her by name and then calls her to more ‘Do not cling to me’ to the way you have known me until now. There is more.

This is how God deals with us too. Meets us where we are, in our confusion, doubt and need as in our joys and successes. He gives us what we need and always calls us to more, to deeper belonging to‘my father and your father, my God and your God’.

Perhaps that is some of what will come out of the present darkness

We all experience moments of both death and resurrection. Our world is today experiencing so many deaths so we pray

'Risen Lord, may the power of your resurrection

touch what is dead in us and in our world

and bring it back to life.

May the hope generated by your resurrection

Be felt right through the world. Amen'.

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