Happy Easter! The image that I can’t get out of my mind this Easter is the first picture that came out of the fire of Notre Dame Cathedral - the picture of the gutted inside and then way down at the far end of the Cathedral centered over the image of the pieta, Mary holding the body of Jesus in her arms, stood what was left of a Cross - in almost perfect condition.
That shouldn’t be just a trite image for us - that is the entire reason we gather tonight. The triumph of the Cross. Jesus’ victory over sin and death - the only reason for us to ever have Hope.
Now I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to lose Hope in my life - it’s way too easy to get stuck on my Good Friday experience, the awful stuff, the suffering, the garbage - and to think that if Jesus really loved me none of this would be happening. That’s so easy! Because I lose focus on that Cross - I try to find hope or meaning or explanations in things that can never ever give them.
I forget that the Cross is the answer, tonight is the answer. We need to remember that Jesus suffered on that Cross, just as we do. And even after His resurrection, this is important, Jesus still bore the marks of that suffering on His body - the crown marks, the nail marks, the gash from the lance. After the Resurrection, all of those wounds remained! Just as our wounds do!
Our faith here tonight, our belief in the Resurrection, doesn’t take away Good Friday, it doesn’t remove our sickness and suffering, just as it didn’t for Jesus - instead it does something infintly better - it gives it all meaning - that not only is Jesus with us, always, but if we let Him, He will take that suffering and raise it to new life! He will raise us to new life! And we need that more than we like to admit.
Tonight, Samantha will encounter that Jesus here at this Font - the most important moment of her entire life. Others will come into the Church, be Confirmed, celebrate their First Holy Communion - all of us will renew our Baptism tonight. Because we need Jesus.
Tonight is a chance for us to begin again - to take the past, whatever it was or wasn’t, and to allow Jesus to raise it to new life. But that requires us to keep our focus on the Cross - through all the burnt out catastrophes of our lives. It is only in that Cross, only in Jesus that any of it makes sense, that any of it has meaning - only in Jesus that there is any Hope.
The extent to which we focus on that Cross, is the extent to which we open ourselves up to the life changing power of the Resurection that is given to us today - and to do that, Jesus has to be the Center of our lives.
Cling to Jesus. Cling to His Cross. Cling to the joy of this Easter night. He is our only Hope. God help us all. +