Death, Resurrection and Hope - Reflections for Easter 2021

Adult Learning
Today at the Cathedral View More
12:00pm Open for private prayer
12:30pm Eucharist
3:00pm Evening Prayer
3:30pm Private prayer ends and Cathedral closes

Death, Resurrection and Hope - Reflections for Easter 2021

Catherine Fox

Death, Resurrection and Hope

‘This glorious Eastertide, away with sin and sorrow!’ This is one of my favourite Easter hymns, but there’s a gulf between my belief in the resurrection, and how I am feeling. Sorrow hasn’t been easy to banish in 2021. I’ve been searching the Gospel accounts to try and locate myself. This year I’m not Mary, hearing the gardener call my name, and with a cry of joyful recognition, hurling myself into the arms of my risen Lord. I feel more like the disciples trudging along the weary road out of Jerusalem, saying ‘But we had hoped…’ I had hoped I’d be feeling different this week. Why am I so sad? After all, I believe I know how the story ends.

Our faith in the resurrection is easy to mock. We saw this in Holy Week, in a Tweet from Prof Alice Roberts: ‘Just a little reminder today. Dead people – don’t come back to life.’ Rather oddly punctuated, I thought. Like an instruction to dead people anywhere, in case they were planning on waking up to party in the park over the Easter break in defiance of Covid restrictions. Human intellect can’t gain any traction on the resurrection. We can only extrapolate from what we know, and picture a kind of radical resuscitation, a jump-starting of a body dead for three days—and we know that can’t happen.

All sorts of hopes have died in the last year. This milestone of the second pandemic Easter has felt to me like an anniversary of all that we’ve lost. We had hoped it would be over by now, that church wouldn’t still mean sitting in masks, few and far between, unable to receive the cup, share the Peace, or sing ‘This glorious Eastertide’ together. We had hoped we’d be back to normal by now, that we’d have got our old life back. Our old life resuscitated, jump-started, turned off and on again. As you were, everybody.

We will never be as we were. Resurrection points ahead, to what we will be. What we will be has not yet been revealed. But we are God’s children now. Right now, even if we are trudging along a weary road, with the wild rumours of angels gaining no traction on our intellect, darkness coming and our hopes dead and abandoned. I conclude this journey is purposeful, that there’s no shortcut to Easter joy this year for me. My eyes have been kept from recognising the stranger who draws alongside and keeps me company as I weep, and listens to me saying But I had hoped… Until the moment comes—and I believe it will—when I recognise my little hopes transformed beyond all recognition into my one Hope, standing before me breaking the bread of heaven. ”

Dr Catherine Fox is senior lecturer and academic director of The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her latest novel is Tales of Lindchester, coming next month from SPCK.