Happy Easter from Kirk Braddan
I was looking through photos recently and remembered one of an open door. While there's an irony our doors – like all churches around the world right now - are closed, and at the one time they'd be most open, the strength of that photo was how it immediately reminded me of the empty tomb.
Yes, the Vicar's just referred to the church as a tomb. Even in metaphor.
But it can be very much seen as that. Because the church – as lovely a building as it is – is little more than the place where people came to find answers to their questions on that first Easter morning. They discovered then that the tomb, like our church, is not a box that constrains God.
Be it for those times when we (remember to) go, or feel guilty if we've not, or pop along half-drunk on Christmas Eve, or to find a relative's heritage, or even if it's only because we've been invited to thingy's wedding; for whatever reason people visit churches we need to remember God is not constrained within those walls.
The empty churches around the world are reminders of the empty tomb today because there is no need for people to be in them. God needs us outside, in the world. In the same way the first Christians were sent away from the tomb and into a world desperately needing love and care, so we are sent now to serve those needs at the doorsteps of our neighbours, both nationally and internationally.
In fact, it's a nice reminder to all of us that the Church was the first charitable organisation which tended to the welfare of those isolated and disregarded by society. It was Christians who went against governments and established authorities to provide for the destitute. All the acts of charity so readily seen – and taken for granted – in our world today began with that empty tomb and those who responded to it.
Until, centuries later, others have spread acts of loving service regardless of religion or belief: acts of Christianity carried out by those who would never dream of calling themselves Christian. That manifests itself in all who carry out simple loving charity in the deliveries of food parcels, phone calls checking on the isolated, rebuilding relationships through technology, bringing people together who might usually be ignored, and ensuring that no-one is left behind in this crisis the world faces.
It is acts of loving service which define our humanity and our life in the Resurrection. Simply caring for those without anyone who cares, regardless of belief, gender, class or status, is the love which God spreads through this world. It is perhaps the most arresting of things, therefore, that all this takes place at Easter: when the world was first shown what happens when people respond to goodness in even the darkest of times.
So when you look at that photo of the open door, I hope it brings to you anything which leads you closer to God. Be it as an antidote to the closed door that remains, for now, a temporary measure. Or a reminder of the times it was open, and will be once more.
Be it as a reminder of good times, when you were in a place where something beautiful was experienced – the wedding or party which brought you happiness – or when you were closest to God, even without realising.
Or be it the reminder that, while we are welcomed into that place, we are also sent from it by the God who is unconstrained by walls and doors, unconstrained by the darkness of death, and unconstrained by anything which threatens humanity.
Keep safe. Love one another. Do right by your families, friends and neighbours. Seek the best for what life has in store for you and walk in the footsteps that lead to eternal life.
I hope you have a very peaceful and blessed Easter, and that the difficulties of this present time are made easier knowing the love of God.
God bless us and keep us, watch over us, shine upon us, and keep us in peace.
Rev. Daniel Richards
Vicar of Kirk Braddan