I can hear it now! A question in a table quiz, 50 years from now: “Which animal is associated with both the first horse since Red Rum to win back to back Grand Nationals and the greatest comeback in golfing history on two consecutive weekends during April 2019?”
As I watched Tiger Woods’ extraordinary victory on Palm Sunday I couldn’t help but detect some mixture of a modern version of the Messiah triumphantly entering the Jerusalem of golf, the return of the Prodigal Son to the Father’s House and more than a whiff of resurrection about it all!
The crowds were chanting, “Tiger! Tiger!”…the only thing that was missing was the waving of palms but then I have discovered there is only one palm tree on the Augusta course and it is way back on the fourth green.
Moments and evidence of resurrection appear in the most unusual circumstances and in places we may least expect to find them. The challenge for us is to be able to recognise them. We may need to roll back the stones of scepticism or even prejudice so that we can see with Easter eyes.
I would like to share with you a moment of resurrection from my own experience.
For a number of years I worked as a Diocesan Advisor for Primary Schools. This involved me making annual visits to each of the 90 schools in our diocese. On one such visit I was in a classroom with a group of 10-year-old children.
Before I arrived, their teacher had invited a local potter to work with the children. One of the reasons she invited the potter was because in their new religion programme there was a whole section on the image of God as a potter as described in the book of the prophet Jeremiah.
My visit would normally involve a conversation with the children around some of the material they had covered in the religion programme. Seeing the freshly made pieces of pottery around the room the section on God as the potter seemed a good place to start.
The teacher had cautioned me that she had five children from the Traveller community in her class and they did not come to school very often. The implication was that I should not expect them to join in the conversation.
Anyway, I began by asking the children if they thought the potter was a good image for God. Of course, the first child with his hand up was one of the traveller children. I looked at the teacher and she at me and I decided to chance asking the child what did he think.
He said, with great enthusiasm that he thought it was a great idea and he proceeded to tell me why: “It’s like this, father; when a potter starts off to make something he has a lump of clay. He might be going to make a cup but then sometimes it all comes out wrong and he has to start again and make something new. It’s like that with us. God has made us and sometimes, like the pottery we can shatter and fall to pieces and only God can put us back together again!”
Wow! I looked at the teacher again and she was dumbfounded. This little child from the Traveller community had such an insight into the nature and compassion of God. The visit to that school was a moment of resurrection and it has sustained me through many difficult days since.
AN EASTER PRAYER…
Lord, roll away the stone from broken empty lives, from greed, from hate, from lies, from hearts trapped within, the darkest night of nights, for all who live without life. Let me run to the tomb before the sun’s rise. Let my heart know surprise to see before these eyes, the folded cloths, the shroud of suffering replaced by translucent beauty. Give me the joy of Magdalene, the first from history to reveal the mystery of your resurrection…
– From Liam Lawton’s The Hope Prayer
Short term let!
One of Joseph of Arimathea’s friends said to him: “That was such a beautiful, costly, hand-hewn tomb you bought. Why did you give it to that preacher Jesus to be interred in?”
“Oh” said Joseph, “he only needed it for the weekend.”