Alleluia Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
It will come as no surprise to you that these words have taken on fresh significance for me this year. Words that proclaim Christ’s victory over death.
Faced as I have been with the death of my Dad I’ve been left asking fresh questions about the resurrection. About what it means for me and what difference it makes as I say goodbye to someone who has helped shape the person I am today.
That saying goodbye has taken place over the last months of his life. Sometimes that goodbye was spoken of and at other times it was observed.
Though he was still Dad bit by bit, day by day we said goodbye; to conversations once had about all sorts of things, to his laughter and smile, to his mobility and appetite for both food and life.
It wasn’t easy journey but it never is, as so many of you know having walked alongside loved ones as they’ve come to their final days.
It is the hardest thing in life to say goodbye to those whom we love most something Mary, Jesus’ mother knew as she stood at the foot of the cross to say goodbye to her son.
We can only imagine her anguish and pain though we know something of it through goodbyes we have had to say.
Yet even if you’ve not said goodbye to a loved one recently, we all know there are times in our life when we say goodbye.
Perhaps to a relationship, to a child leaving home, to a job, to a school, to not being as young as we were, to hair in my case. Goodbye is part of life.
Yet what the story of my life has taught me thus far is that though there are goodbyes, the God in whom I believe in is one who offers us hellos too.
Indeed on this day we celebrate and give thanks for the God who reveals through the resurrection of Jesus Christ that goodbye is not the last word we shall say. For goodbye leads to hello.
And God’s hellos sometimes arrive in surprising ways. Scrapbooks for example, something that my Mum is a great compiler of. Through them I have remembered afresh the story of our life with Dad. They have been a hello amidst the goodbyes. Helping us rediscover the man who led such a rich and full life.
There are hellos amidst goodbyes in the Easter Story too. Mary Magdalene, and Mary head to the tomb of Jesus, it was part of their saying goodbye. Perhaps they chatted on the way, they remembered the good times their tears were tempered by laughter.
They arrive to ‘see the stone rolled back.’ The angel serves as God’s hello ‘He has been raised; he is not here.’ What were they to make of it ‘terror and amazement’ seizes them and they are ‘afraid.’
‘He is not here.’ My Dad has died. His body is still here, yet I believe, I know that ‘he is not here.’