Second Sunday of Easter Message
Dear Brothers and Sisters
Last Sunday we experienced the most unusual Easter of our lives. We were literally locked out of our churches and forced to seek the risen Christ elsewhere. No doubt this felt very strange and confusing. I celebrated the Eucharist in my home at 10.30 am as promised. I held all of you in my mind, I tried to see you in the pews, chatting over coffee, singing in the choir as I celebrated. But there was no way to completely ignore the fact that I was alone, and that I knew many of you were alone as well.
I spent another part of Easter day reading the resurrection testimony from each of the Gospels, and what struck me most was the empty tomb—it made me think of our empty churches. And as I thought I realized that the tomb wasn’t empty at all. It was full of meaning. The empty tomb was a striking witness that our Lord is risen, that our Lord walks among us. This is what those first witnesses, the Marys, Joanna, Peter, the couple on the road to Emmaus, the disciples and the apostles, came to know. That the empty tomb was filled with resurrection hope, resurrection promise. Our empty churches on Easter morning, like the empty tomb, do not speak of God’s absence, but of God’s presence in our world, among us. They help us to understand that most profound of Christ’s teachings, “In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14.19-20). That day was Easter day, and we know that God lives among us. That is the promise of the empty tomb and the promise of our empty churches. When we seek our Lord, our Lord always finds us.
And where we find God most profoundly at this time is in Prayer. This is a time of Prayer, this is a time when we make the places we find ourselves in places of Prayer. Our homes are now sanctified by God’s Grace. And this is a time when Prayer is much needed. Jesus told us what we must do: “whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6.6). This is a challenge to us and a joy. Let us use this opportunity to flood the world with Prayer. Don’t be worried about how you pray, just settle yourself in God’s presence, and be with God. This is the most powerful thing we can all do at this time, and we join in Prayer with millions of others. The world has taken a pause, a pause which has opened up for us the immense opportunity to be truly a people of Prayer.
In the U.S. they call the lockdown ‘Shelter in Place’ and the place we shelter is always in the loving embrace of our Lord.
Finally, I want to end by saying how inspired and proud I am of all of you—the work you are doing to care for each other, the patience in which you face the difficulties of this time, the joy you share with others. This is truly a flowering of God’s Kingdom in this world.
Worship this Sunday is most easily accessible on BBC One, at 10 am and I invite all of you to join with me in worshipping at this time. It will feature the Reverend Canon Leigh Richardson who leads the service from St Davids Cathedral in Pembrokeshire.
At 10.30 I will celebrate the Eucharist for all of the Parish, and invite you to join with me in receiving spiritually.
There are also a number of other services and worship opportunities that will be streamed, and you can find these on the Leeds Diocese Website below.
With all love and blessings through Christ our Lord,
Revd Jessica Malay