Every so often when it’s a sunny day and incense has been part of our Eucharist, as it was this time last week, a wonderful things happens.
As the smoke of the incense is met with the bright light of the day, mediated through the windows around us, then shafts of light magically appear. These shafts or beams of light are beautiful and in some way speak to us of the life of faith.
For though we know there are times when this life can seem harsh and difficult, something young Jacob, his parents Matthew and Katie together with the rest of the family have been reminded these last few weeks and months.
Amidst these difficult times, I know there have also been shafts or beams of light, glimpses of hope, little clues that there is more. Something I want to return to a bit later.
Mary whom we encounter in our Gospel this morning knew well the harshness of life. On Friday she had seen Jesus die. The power of evil and the darkness that surrounds it seems to have won.
We find her next ‘Early on the first day of the week’ at Jesus’ tomb, bewildered and distraught for ‘the stone had been removed from the tomb’. A kind man talks to her and it’s when he mentions her name, she knows. She has ‘seen the Lord’.
As darkness fell last night at our Easter Vigil though the wind blew Bishop Paul lit the paschal candle from a small fire. He then brought that light into the church proclaiming ‘The Light of Christ’.
This Paschal Candle represents the same resurrection light that lifted Mary out of her sadness on that first Easter day for it continues to shine, its brightness illuminating all ages. A moment in time, for all time.
That which we proclaimed at Christmas we shout with renewed vigour today ‘The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not (nor will it ever) overcome it.’(1)
Perhaps that’s why those shafts of light formed by smoke, glass and light that we sometimes glimpse here are so enchanting for they represent something much deeper.
The poet William Blake wrote some words that have accompanied me these last few days as I’ve thought around this theme ‘And we are put on earth a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love.’
‘to bear the beams of love’ what a beautiful phrase. Beams of love are what I saw in Jacob’s Grandparents Sandra and Barry, a few weeks ago, as they showed me a video of him laughing and giggling just as any baby should. In the midst of much worry and anxiety, it was a shaft of light, a kind of resurrection moment, when new hope was glimpsed.
To be a follower of Jesus Christ is to believe that there is always hope, that new life is always possible. And just as doting Grandparents look upon their Grandchild, so God looks upon us with beams of love, beams of love that nothing, not even death can separate us from(2).
This morning then as we celebrate Jacobs’s baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection. One thing I’d want to say to him as he grows and explores this faith is that it’s lived most fully not by trying to capture and possess those beams of resurrection love. But rather, like the windows above us, faith is lived by letting that life and love and the hope it brings, flow through us into the world.
Archbishop Justin Welby in his ‘Thought for the Day’ on Good Friday cited some words written on a pavement in Brussels this last week, he said that ‘hope is our resistance.’ As God’s people, caught up in the power of the resurrection we’re invited to be purveyors of hope, because this resurrection stuff, isn’t just about the past or the future but about transforming the present too.
So may we, my sisters and brothers,
strive to let the beams of resurrection love flow through us,
so that we may shine as lights in the dark places of our world,
be an Easter people filled with hope
because on this day we shout from the rooftops
Christ is risen! He is Risen Indeed Alleluia!