Easter Message from our Chaplain:
I want to wish you all a very Happy Easter, and despite the circumstances, when we recognise what Easter is truly about, it is still as happy and as relevant as ever. During this period of Passiontide, the Christian world looks to the cross, the crucifixion of Jesus, to be followed by the biggest celebration in the Christian year on Easter Sunday, when we remember His resurrection.
I have always said that there are many levels to this event; in fact, that is true of Christianity as a whole. The story of Jesus could be said to reflect the story of humanity from His birth to His death and resurrection. All of us are born with God in us, as the source of our very existence. The purpose of the journey of life is to rediscover that. One of the most significant things that we can learn from the life of Jesus is that terrible things happen to good people, and how we face that and deal with it matters. We can pick up our cross and carry it, or simply give up. There will be people on the way to help us on our journey, exemplified by the figure of Simon of Cyrene, but, ultimately, we must face our own Golgotha. But at the heart of the message – there is no death! The resurrection tells us that, whether we believe it as a fact of history in some way or a figurative story. I happen to believe the former.
Life is a journey, a search for ultimate truth. That is what being a Christian is. The search for knowledge looks outside, and we have been good at that bit in the last couple of centuries. But we have missed the search for ultimate truth, for wisdom. This search is internal and transformational. At least in the west that is the case. The orient has been better at holding on to these eternal human truths. It is the search for the great ‘I am’, the transcendental self; released from, and resurrected after the death of, the ego. Only then is true, selfless love possible. Not the selfish kind where we invest all our happiness in the behaviour of someone else; the kind of pop song, ‘chick flick’ love that has no real lasting depth. We are responsible for our own happiness, and that is part of the journey towards our own cross, the death of our own ego. Ironically, that enables us to truly love ourselves. Not in a narcissistic, self-obsessed ‘look at me’ social media celebrity kind of way, but true contentment with who we are, knowing that our very essence is love itself, God. This is where true happiness lies, because only then can we give it to others.
It is no coincidence that the name for God in the Old Testament, Yahweh or Jehovah, has been translated in English as ‘I am that I am’ (or more correctly, ‘He is that He is’); He is God within, the great ‘Am’, the source of all existence. It is the search for Her that is the path of life, ‘The Way’ as Jesus called it when He gave us ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ God is not a separate limited entity or being, who has attributes like those that we have but magnified, He is being itself, the essence or source of our very existence. God is not loving, but love itself, and that is the true source of all life, the Holy Spirit, which means the ‘breath of life’.
In the modern era many, though not all, Christians (and atheists I might add) have reduced the whole concept of God to a bearded man who sits on a cloud worrying about what you get up to of an evening, an anxious and sometimes angry father figure. That is not God for me. I agree with the American theologian, David Bentley Hart, of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, who states that God is what stands at the end of reason’s journey toward the source and truth of all things, and as such is not reliant on arguments for His existence. We are all on that journey, whether we know it or not. It is this God that is slowly revealing Her face to science, particularly physics. If we are patient and determined, we will find Him. At that point we will fully realise our true, eternal self, that everything and everyone is one, separation is an illusion. In that understanding, we are resurrected into the fullness of life, released from any fear of death. In my view, this is what Jesus meant when he said that he came that ‘we might have life and have it abundantly.’ We can only have that if we recognise God in our lives and as the source of all existence, not the angry man in the sky. This is the message of Easter, the death of the false ego and resurrection into a new and deeper spiritual life, connected to all things and everyone.
In these difficult times, as I mentioned last week, we can see reconnection beginning to happen. There have been incidents of selfishness, but I believe in the power of the human spirit, and as our way of life may be facing its own Golgotha, and maybe that’s not a bad thing, perhaps we will be resurrected as a society with kindness and love at its heart. I cannot think of a better way to remember those who have lost and will lose, their own lives, particularly those vital workers who have consciously put themselves at risk, making the ultimate sacrifice for us. ‘Greater love has no one than to lay down their life for friends.’ (John 15:13)
May you have a happy Easter, even in these trying circumstances. You don’t need to go outside to see God, because you do not see God with your eyes, you experience Him in your heart; She is with you right now, if you would only open yourself to Him. Ο Χρήστος Ανέστι μέσα σου.
Pasg hapus iawn i chi i gyd,