An Easter Thought from Rev. Helen Norris
…..first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. (Matthew 23:26)
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Walking down School Road yesterday, I couldn’t help noticing the cars. I wondered why so many people had been buying new ones at this time. How strange. Then I realised that the reason so many looked new was because they were all so clean! Not just clean, but sparkling, buffed and polished.
It set me thinking. Everywhere, people are finding ways to keep boredom at bay and stay active. Washing those cars. Tidying cupboards. Tidying sheds and green houses. Sorting out rubbish. Dusting and cleaning. And then dusting and cleaning again. Painting and decorating. When all this is over our homes and our cars will be spotless, the charity shops will have a good deal of extra stock, the Council tips will be full to overflowing!
But we can’t be active all of the time. For some of it, if we can resist the temptation to watch another box set or catch the new Netflix release, it’s good just to take that time, to sit and reflect on the changes in our lives in these last weeks. We all know what they are. What has hurt us most – the isolation, the frustration, not being able to get to work, go on holidays, see the family and friends? What has surprised us? The selfishness of some, yes, but the amazing generosity of time and effort of so many others. What has been good? The time to rest, recharge our batteries, and yes, do that sorting and cleaning that’s been waiting for us to get around to; and the pleasure we have taken in the arrival of spring, the sunshine, the birdsong that suddenly seems louder – or is it just the world’s noise is quieter? And finally – what have we learned about ourselves during this time? Have we been surprised at how we’ve reacted and behaved? Pleased? Disappointed?
We are at the end of Lent – a time when, as members of the church, we reflect on ourselves, what we have done wrong, what we could improve, what changes we could make in our lives. As I write this, we are approaching Easter, a time when we usually celebrate the risen Christ with others, in church or outside, singing wonderful hymns and rejoicing once again, that Jesus died for us, so that we might live with him.
We will celebrate the Easter feast, of course, this year, perhaps joining in a Zoom service, perhaps watching one on television. But, in our virus induced reality, we will not be able to share that time, physically, with loved ones and there will be more dark times ahead.
Why not use that extra time to do some more reflecting and soul searching – cleaning, if you like, this time of ourselves. Jesus spoke those words from Matthew’s Gospel to the religious leaders of the day, who were rejecting him. They might just as well be spoken to us today. It would be no bad thing if we came out of this better people than when we went in. Focus on how we might become of good repute, worthy of praise, right and honourable (as Paul wrote to the Philippians) and resolve to change. It would be wonderful if, when the stone is finally rolled away – as it surely will – we find ourselves as clean on the inside as are our houses!
An uplifting poem…..
A New Day
A new day dawns. February frosts cling as snowdrops raise their heads in triumph.
A new day dawns. Lent begins; birds sing, waiting for a promise of spring.
A new day dawns. Proud primulas peek as expectant buds swell in stillness.
A new day dawns. In a garden far away your passion unfolds.
A new day dawns. New life begins through crowns of golden daffodils.
A new day dawns.
A promise kept, a gift for all.
On Easter Day I come with life, life to the full. Take. Begin. Alleluia.
(Sarah Pascoe, from Fire and Bread, 2006, Wild Goose Publications.)