(Photo Credit: Designed by Joe Grist for St David’s Cathedral)
The Easter season of 2018 occurred earlier than in some years, with a somewhat surreal feeling to it. There was an oddly juxtaposed ‘trinity’ of events: Easter Sunday, April Fools’ Day and (for some of us) the end of Daylight Saving, all on the same day, the First of April.
The big noticeboard outside our Cathedral again had a challenging and thought-provoking Easter-tide poster. People of all religious persuasions – or none – eagerly await the Cathedral’s posters, while they’re stopped at the traffic lights, or as they walk around the corner. The posters lead to many interesting discussions in cars and homes, and even on local radio. ‘What does it mean?’
People come to visit the church, wanting to know more. This year’s poster asked about April 1st and Easter Day – ‘Deep foolishness or rising wisdom?’
It is also around Easter time that the seasons shift. Autumn fruits are at their peak, the grapes are being harvested for the new vintage. There’s a noticeable crispness in the air as the morning mists begin to appear. But this gentle shift in the natural cycle of things is nothing compared to the ‘seismic’ shift that happened a couple of thousand years ago.
Lots to think about
There’s always lots to think about over the four days from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. This is a powerful time in our Christian year, remembering as it does the very core of our Christian beliefs.
It begins with the Maundy Thursday service that recalls Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, where he washed Peter’s feet, and commanded the disciples to eat and drink ‘in remembrance of me.’
Sombre music, long readings from scripture, prayer and silent reflection culminate in the ‘stripping of the church’, when all candles, decorations, coverings, linen and robes are removed and every light is extinguished. One remaining candle – the baptismal candle – is taken outside. At the end of the service people sit in silence for some moments before creeping away in the darkness.
With dramatic bible readings punctuated by solemn hymns and lengthy silences for prayerful reflection, the Good Friday service recounts Jesus’ trial and journey to the Cross and death.
Thursday to Saturday are days for deep reflection. As I get older, I find Easter stays with me for longer and longer, as I ponder on the enormity of what happened. Charles Wesley’s stirring hymn And Can It Be? sums it up:
’Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
The earthquake, the tearing of the curtain in the temple, the darkening of the sun – all of this was out of the ordinary, a ‘seismic’ event in the universe: the execution and burial of God. A mystery indeed. On that day, no-one really understood that three days later He would be alive again.
He had promised to return, but it made no sense to the human mind.
On Easter Sunday it’s ‘lights, cameras, action’ as we celebrate with utter joy the Risen Christ and greet each other with ‘Alleluia. He is risen. He is risen, indeed.’
Sometimes it is too difficult to comprehend. Too enormous. Too foolish maybe? Or is it a time to seek a deeper wisdom?
Sheelagh Wegman, BA, IPEd Accredited Editor is a freelance editor and production editor for the Tasmanian Anglican magazine. She enjoys people, writing, cooking and singing in the choir of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart. She lives in natural bushland on the foothills of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.
Sheelagh Wegman’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sheelagh-wegman.html