Thursday, 30 March 2017

Resurrection here and now…

In a time when much of what we see in the News Media speaks to us of the human capacity for violence, injustice, complacency and despair, it’s welcome when a “good news” item turns up. One such report is of the unveiling of the restored “Edicule” in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Knowing that a huge project was underway at the time a number of us went on pilgrimage in February, I was pleased enough that we were able to enter the traditional site of Jesus’ burial - though it was shrouded in scaffolding. But now the restoration is complete. Amongst the discoveries is the bedrock in which Christ’s body was said to have been laid, and the dating of the two marble slabs in the chamber which pilgrims may visit: the upper slab, from Crusader times when the church was rebuilt; the lower slab, dated to the fourth century when the first Christian Emperor, Constantine, made provision to build the original church.

Does it matter? Yes, because the events of Christ’s Passion, of Holy Week and Easter, happen in real time - his betrayal, condemnation, death, burial and Resurrection are a matter of record. And physical evidence of their probable location takes us in a special way to recognise how God touches our world. Christian faith is more than a merely “spiritual” experience.

Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, understood this - which is why she was so painstaking in seeking to identify those places most closely associated with the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. Later in the same 4th Century a pilgrim to the Holy Land called Egeria recorded her travels and the places she visited - and much of her writing concerned the worship in which she participated. The worship we offer now in Holy Week and at Easter has grown from the same roots as that which she knew. We may not be in Jerusalem ourselves - but our prayer and worship in a very real way takes us there as we seek to follow Christ in his Passion, as we meet him at his Resurrection. The prayer we offered as pilgrims on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is the same as the prayer of the Stations of the Cross in St. Cuthbert’s. What is celebrated in the Upper Room is made real in our Eucharists. The Christ who rose from that tomb in Jerusalem is the one who comes to meet us now.                      

Martin Jackson

This article is from the April 2017 issue of our Parish Magazine - click to find it through this link

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