.a week & a night for the extraordinary & unexpected; who would have thought we’d be celebrating a Resurrection last Monday night of Holy Week, drawn into a world changing tragedy of Notre Dame Cathedral; structurally disastrous , spiritually life changing; those who went to the shell early next morning..the empty tomb..to smell the charred wood, the spices of destruction, & what/who did they find there? young & old Parisians singing hymns together as they watched & prayed in disbelief..no answers but deep faith..young man interviewed “I wanted to be here to communicate with the place” to communicate, to dialogue; communion to share a meal & a story, & an image which will live with me/us for rest of our lives; inside the ruined Cathedral from nave [ navus navy crew space your space] looking down length of Cathedral the tall crucifix shines golden above the altar; Cross & altar intact; quite extraordinary..a Cross without a corpus ; Christ is Risen! the altar table of eucharistic hospitality lives on “do this in memory of me”..& behind every donation to restoration fund is a prayer believe me; the restoration of the building & the reformation of faith; on “sancta terra” holy ground..our word saunter from sancta terra..as we sauntered through ruins of Byland Abbey just 24hrs before fire in Notre Dame..Christ is alive, Christ is Risen Alleluia ! young & old Anglicans & Catholics singing hymns praying together..& what/whom did we find there?..no easy trite answers but a shared belief & faith in a gradual sauntering journey that is resulting in a reformation of faith.. my Easter morning hope is that one day the altar of eucharistic hospitality of Byland, recovered from farmyard & now in use in St Benedict’s Chapel at Ampleforth, will be restored & we Anglicans & Catholics will celebrate our communion our common meal again together ; one bread one body..& when [not if] it happens I would like history to look back to our Easter Night 20 April 2019 when seed for such a resurrection was germinated here in hearts of you few excited disciples, faith filled & convinced enough to believe & to proclaim “yes, it is true..” however, a word of caution; be careful of missing out on the extraordinariness of first Easter morning, which has been domesticated sanitised down centuries, losing its reality intensity & energy as ground breakingly destructive of organised compliant observant religion as was the fire last Monday evg.
Can I take you back into the Easter story, its shell & its careful explanations thus far, & suggest some hidden facts beneath the accepted narrative? Lets crack open Easter egg sold to us thus far, & discover it is no longer disappointingly empty but filled with truth..
“but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, & they did not believe them.”the word truth of first witnesses to Resurrection was suppressed & Peter was awarded first place..
women deferred to importance of men; feminist scholarship you may feel it to be as women have been praised for their submission & silence..a Mary not a Martha..seen & not heard..please on this night of risk & adventure think again..Marks ending of same story reads “they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid” read it not as an abrupt ending but, like tonight, a new beginning..afraid now but what comes next?..”the women disciples do not desert, deceive, betray or even misunderstand as the male disciples do. They are the ones who remain faithfully at the Cross & who come first to the tomb. It is they who find themselves on the threshold of the inbreaking of divine power.” “he is not here, he has risen.” they literally find themselves; you & I finding ourselves tonight, on the threshold of the inbreaking of the divine power into our hearts here in this tiny chapel aligned in divine stature & love alongside the grandeur of Notre Dame..& back to tonight & Luke’s attempt to tell us the full story..we have to go on ahead then come back to make divine sense of it all ..of what seemed “pure nonsense” ; go forward to story of road to Emmaus; two disciples having seen Jesus crucified dead & buried were on way home to face music jeers of family who 3yrs earlier had told them not to follow this itinerant fraudulent wonderworker Jesus..just another 3day wonder..& in step with stranger they began to tell their story of disappointment “moreover some women of our group astounded us” here days after dismissively scorning message & the women, they are still struggling with belief, the story becoming increasingly set in stone in their minds & their common sense..preoccupied with past & what had happened, they failed to notice what was happening there & then, in company with the stranger..the stranger asks about their conversation..they stop look sad, Cleopas tells him the historical narrative “some of our group went to the tomb, found evidence as the women had said, but did not see him” they didn’t see him..was he there all the time & they failed to notice him or address him?..it was left to Mary Magdalen to see notice gardener & address him..& she got the sighting & response of a lifetime..she believed..& the stranger, faced with their stone wall disbelief calls them “you foolish men, so slow to believe the full message of the gospel”
..foolish cherrypickers pick & mix followers..& all time stranger is widening their perspective , a broadening explanation, the wider story incorporating evidence & truth of women’s story..& when they get to village of Ampleforth he goes as if to go on towards Coxwold “& they pressed him to stay” ..at last they hear & receive the word & respond, & at breaking of bread he disappears ..they no longer need to see outwardly they begin to believe, like the women, from the heart..story of two men laying bricks..one was asked what do you do? “I am a bricklayer” his colleague alongside him says “I am a builder of cathedrals” same wall same bricks same team..& what of us?..no longer bricklayers but builders,& after last Monday, restorers of cathedrals..no longer unworthy parishioners but beloved companions of Jesus..the story alleged thus far as “pure nonsense” is revealed tonight as truly astounding..the guest/ stranger becomes the host, the Risen Christ..the beginning of a new episode in an everlasting ongoing story, with you & I full participants, ideal disciples..our blindness healed into belief & conviction, as we echo words of Mary Magdalen “we have seen him! he is alive!” in devastation of Notre Dame Cathedral, in the simple beauty of this our precious little haven, in tragedy brokenness & woundedness of the Abbey Church half a mile from here..the Resurrection in progress, a process of telling & retelling which forms the community narrative..”then they told what had happened”..an ongoing one..no longer pure nonsense but real presence..the ashes of 40days ago, of Paris last Monday, & of our dying embers of our Easter fire out there, are the past..& the now is the Easter candle..blessed ignited with the Easter song of praise the Exultet..& its unbelievable promise; nonsense to the headcentred but pure gold to the heartcentred.. ”restoring lost innocence..” welcoming Mary Magdalen Judas Pilate & Herod.. & now, here & now, you & I..home..Alleluia! Alleluia ! “I wanted to be here to communicate with the place.”