Reflections for Easter
Maundy Thursday John 13: 1-17
Jesus got up from the meal and began washing his disciples’ feet….He said to them, ‘Now
that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s
feet I have set you an example that you should do as I have done to you… Now that you
know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’
How physical, how intimate is Jesus’s demonstration of humility and service to his disciples.
The splash of water, the roughness of the towel, the
grimy dirt in the bowl and the exposure of the blisters
and rough skin of feet used to walking many miles –
Jesus kneels in his humanity and engages with it all. His
action is shocking, and challenging. Can we receive such
an act of grace from our Lord and Teacher, to be so
served and honoured, so respected? Dare we let Jesus
come so close to who we are in our inmost self? If we
are willing, he will draw near and then we will know that nothing is hidden from his
searching touch and gaze. But we will also know that we need have no fear, because his gift
to us is total love and his touch will change us for good.
In church, we would usually be stripping the altar, revealing the plain wood, removing the
embroidered fabrics and the shining silver and leaving only what is plain and unadorned.
Wherever we are on this day, we are invited to a simplicity and a plain honesty about
ourselves. In Jesus, both in the Sacrament and in the fellowship of faith that binds us
together in all places and circumstances, our Lord invites us to a communion of simplicity
Are we prepared to walk the path to the cross with Jesus?
Are we willing to remain faithful in prayer in a suffering world?
God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ was obedient to the end and
drank the cup prepared for him; may we who share his table watch
with him through the night of suffering, and be faithful. Amen.
Good Friday John Chapters 18 and 19
In all the confusion, terror, betrayal, agony and desolation of these two Chapters, there is
one fixed, resolute centre: Jesus himself. He holds his ground even as he is arrested,
questioned, tormented, crucified. His words and actions reveal the truth of others’ hearts
and intentions. Amongst it all, there are moments of beauty, one of them as he binds his
mother Mary and his disciple John in an ongoing relationship of care. Jesus dies
proclaiming, ‘It is Finished’. His earthly work is complete.
We may find the account of his suffering and death
almost unbearable. Perhaps Jesus’s cry from the
cross (recorded by Mark, not John,) ‘My God, my
God, why have you forsaken me?’ strikes a painful
chord this year as so many have faced desolation
and loneliness, in poverty and redundancy, or with
the opposite pressure of working in extreme circumstances.
The Gospel has infinite compassion and truth for all of us. We can all hear the words of God
on this day which was so dark, and yet so full of love poured out in a measure beyond our
comprehension. At the foot of the cross, we are humbled and awed. Our lives, our griefs
and pains and sins, are taken up by the Son of God and the price is paid for our redemption.
The first verse of Chapter 18 tells us that all this happens in the context of prayer: ‘When
Jesus had finished praying….’. He has spent the night in prayer and now he is ready. Prayer
remains one of our greatest privileges and responsibilities. We are readier for life’s
challenges when we have prayed.
Jesus arranged for his mother and his friend to have human company
and protection, something that has been denied to many people in
lockdown, or more permanently. This year, our cry may be, ‘How long,
O Lord, how long?’ as we may even have wished that the hour of death
would come soon.
Chapter 19 ends with actions of courage and consolation. Jesus’s friends
take care of his body. They bring scented oils and grave clothes and
honour him with a new tomb. He is placed in a garden, a place of
growth and new life. The mysterious purposes and the indestructible
love of God are still to be further revealed, in Jesus’s life and in ours.
Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be my centre; be my hope, my consolation, my Saviour.
Pour out your love to others even through me in all the limitations of my life; and when the
hour of death comes, keep me close to yourself, and bring me to your eternal joy. Amen.
Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of our sin and the depth of your love;
In humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Easter Eve (Holy Saturday) Job 14: 1-17
The Scriptures give expression to every human situation and emotion. Here, Job, wellknown for his suffering, voices his poetic lament of despair at the fragility of life and the
inescapable finality of death. Our days are like flowers or fleeting shadows, soon gone. And
yet he still wrestles with a hope that can’t be suppressed: If mortals die, will they live again?
He addresses the need of forgiveness, ‘My offences would be sealed up in a bag, you would
cover all my sin’. As Christians we can read these words written at least one thousand years
before Christ, as a prophecy of the transformative life that Jesus would bring through his
On Holy Saturday, we might seem to be in limbo, between the terrible drama of Friday and
the astonishing revelations of Sunday. There is an inclination to rush on, to leave all the pain
behind and hasten to the resurrection. But most poignantly this year, this day holds special
significance. For the disciples it was a day of shock, self-recrimination perhaps, mourning,
lamenting, shedding tears of grief, hiding in fear from the authorities who might
come for them too. For the women, also a day of preparing for the loving service
of anointing Jesus’s body even while everything was uncertain and full of grief.
For us, we know that we can celebrate on Easter Sunday; we know the story! So
today is an opportunity to dwell in the time in-between. The ticking of a clock
marks the passing of the minutes as God reaches down to unwrap the grave-clothes; as
Jesus descends to the dead; as the powers of hell and death are vanquished; as the broken
human body is resurrected for eternity. Unprecedented events are being enacted. The veil
has been torn apart and the kingdom of heaven is working on earth. Life of an unimaginable
new kind is being created.
Looking back at our own lives, we can see that some times have been moments of great
drama and consequence, or busy occupation with the daily round. Some have been for
celebration, and some for grief. Many times have been unremarkable, and probably
forgotten. Yet these moments have been part of the whole story, and it may well be that in
the quiet moments we have been most aware of the presence of God, and Jesus has come
closest to us.
We don’t see what is going on behind the scenes of life,
most often. There are many unanswered questions, as Job
says. Holy Saturday is an opportunity to wait on God, in
honesty, and in the confidence of the faith he gives us. It
can encourage and resource us further for the long weeks
of isolation and uncertainty that may still lie ahead. Like
the women preparing to anoint Jesus, perhaps today you may be able to offer kindness and
respect to someone in need. May the Lord give you a special blessing on this day.
In the depths of our isolation, we cry to you, Lord God; give light in our darkness and bring
us out of the prison of our despair, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Easter Day John 20: 1-18
Jesus Christ is risen today! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!
Early in the morning, while it was still dark… Mary Magdalene is up early. The morning is
hers. But the victory over death and sin is universal; the offer of life is open to all.
On this most important day, we would all want to be in Church and to receive Holy
Communion. We share the sadness of recognising that for you this is an impossibility. But
we remain united although apart, as the Body of Christ, and as the Sacrament is given and
received we will be re-membering you in Christ. There will be special prayers in Church for
those who are alone at home and we all look forward to the time when we can meet in
Celebrating and proclaiming the resurrection is about joy, abundance of
new life, beauty after cruelty and ugliness, hope in place of despair,
healing of brokenness – all the things we need to find post-Pandemic as
well as so often in our personal lives.
I pray that today you will be able to rejoice and take pleasure in
something that speaks to you of life and hope; and that the love that took
Jesus to the cross will reach you in grace and strength. As his vulnerability
and suffering were transformed to victory over death and sin, so may you
find encouragement and strength for each day as it passes.
On the first Easter morning, the stone was rolled away and the tomb
found to be empty. Jesus was already walking abroad, ready to be re-discovered by his
friends. Perhaps we have been bowed down by sadness, or become tired and frustrated by
restrictions for too long.
The risen Jesus is ready to meet us. By his promised Holy Spirit he has said, ‘ I will not leave
you alone. I will be with you’. Happy Easter!
God of glory,
by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell;
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
May the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord
make you perfect in very good work to do his will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight.
And the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you, now and always,