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Friday, 30 March 2012

Sense of Place

Last night I spent three hours downloading the pictures from my recent trips onto my laptop, and then sorting them into folders, hopefully to jog my memory in the future as to which field or church each depicts.

Some pictures won’t need me to have left a clue. Like the pictures walking down the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane.

I walked again last night from the top of the Mount of Olives, past the crouching bunkers in the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world, which are decorated not with flowers from loved ones, but with rocks to show they had visited. Each tomb has its own square ‘window’; in Jewish thought, we were told, a person is not completely dead for three days, by which time the body has been buried, so there is an escape hatch left for the soul to rise heavenwards.

There was a wee window on the tomb in which Jesus’ body was probably laid to rest. But of course his entire body rose from death, and so the round stone needed to be rolled away. He’d never have fit out the escape hatch. (...although his Resurrection body could walk through walls, so I suppose in fact, the stone was rolled away so that John, Peter and Mary could see for themselves that he was no longer there).

Jesus died to make a way for us to escape the consequences of sin and death. It wasn’t enough for us to have a wee hatch through which the most noble parts of our character might escape to heaven, sloughing off the sinful natures we all have. No. God rolled the stone away, so that Jesus might walk free, and we might walk free with him.

Jesus didn’t make an escape hatch for when we die, though. It’s an open door to walk through while we are still alive here on earth, so that we might live full lives here and now, every day. Jesus told his disciples that the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, was near. It’s as near as your heart. 

I am getting ready to walk through the week preceding Easter prayerfully, thoughtfully, alert to God’s whisper, alive to his touch. I am getting ready to weep at the betrayal by his friend, to cry at his abandonment by friends who were as close as family, to feel bereft to realize how often I betray and abandon him. 

And to rejoice on Easter morning, as the stone is rolled away and Jesus, and I in him, can walk out alive, and free.

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