Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV)
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
I write this letter to you in the middle of Holy Week. It began with the joy of Palm Sunday worship, when we sang our Hosannas and greeted our Lord Jesus as king. I had a personal sense of the week holding such promise, filled with meetings: with the facilitators of the Helen Kim Memorial Scholarship programme, with members of my church in a Lent study group and with other World Officers to make arrangements for our business meetings linked to the World Assembly. Then there was a lunch with friends and a meeting of local presbyters and their spouses with conversation and communion. I read emails telling me of videos being successfully prepared for the upcoming Assembly and my heart rejoiced with anticipation. On Maundy Thursday I participated in a beautiful act of worship at my local church, and on Friday I shall join a walk of witness through the streets.
All this felt positive, enjoyable, gifts of grace within the community of faith. But my joy was overshadowed by news of war, violence, sickness, floods, poverty and injustice. Some of this is happening in my own country. I am horrified by the decisions being taken by my own government and know that some of you are also struggling to cope with the behaviour of the regimes in your own nations. I almost felt I should, like the psalmist, ‘put on sackcloth’ and sit ‘wailing’ in penitence outside our government offices.
Can this experience of discontent and injustice help us to understand better what life was like for the people among whom Jesus lived on earth? They too felt oppressed and, helpless in their poverty, longed for the one who would come as Messiah and save them.
We hold on to the fact that Jesus has come, has revealed to us the love of God, has shown us how to serve one another, has endured rejection, physical abuse, cruelty and abandonment, has given up his life for us and (praise God!) has risen to eternal life with God where he still prays for us.
Christ’s whole purpose was/is to bring us, reconcile us, to God.
So we hang in there, through the pain of this week, through silent Saturday, as we long for Easter Day, when ‘the ‘dawn from on high will break upon us.’ As Zechariah foretold (Luke 1:78- 79):
because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Jesus has truly broken through the power of sin and death. His victory is for us. His victory is ours. He offers us peace that passes understanding. May each one of us know the rich blessing of Easter joy. Let us praise God for ever.
Your sister in Christ,