The light in the darkness

Terry Lester, Archdeacon of Constantia

Reverend Terry Lester, Christ Church, Constantia

“Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult all creation around God’s throne! Jesus Christ, our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!”

This acclamation will again echo through our churches at Easter with the lighting of the pascal candle, symbol of that eternal flame which cannot be extinguished, which dispels all darkness and represents Christ our risen Lord.

This image of light in the midst of darkness has been like a rocket fuel which has propelled generations through some of human history’s darkest moments.

It appears on the dark, dank walls of the catacombs in the form of tiny lamps etched on the sandstone. Imagine that! Even in the absence of an actual lamp to help dispel the darkness of the dungeon, an etched lamp provided those faithful souls with the hope they had in every fibre of their being which held and helped them through those dark days of persecution.

Easter not only reminds us of this hope we have in God who raised Jesus from the dead, it is also a guarantee and invitation to hope against hope, as it were – to hope in the face of death and to hope in the certainty that the sun will rise no matter how long or dark the night.

But more than this, Easter challenges our stunned silence, often an instinctive response to our witnessing of unbridled, relentless and ubiquitous evil.

Easter invites us to again find our voices and to sing and dance and rejoice, not in a way which is a total disconnect from our reality, but because all of creation is given back its voice. And we have reason to rejoice and be glad. Christ is risen!

In Jesus’ trial, as recorded in the gospels, He is silent in the face of the accusations brought, much to Pilate’s irritation. Easter breaks the silence. The faithful find their voice and echo God’s concern for justice, for considerate living, for caring compassion, for the embrace of difference into community.

Easter is the guarantee that efforts done in the power of the resurrection ensure triumph over evil and that the battered and downtrodden will be lifted up!

“Christ the first fruit,” says St Paul. In Christ, the tree of hope has proved itself to be a hope-bearing tree.

That tree may have been battered and its branches ripped off by a violent storm, its bough may be bent over by an unrelenting south-easter and near-on every leaf stripped off from its tender shoots as we live in this pandemic.

Yet, Easter remains God’s assurance of restoration and peace – a peace which passes all understanding here and now.

May yours be joyful and hopeful too!