Assistant Curate, Mariama Ifode-Blease, questions what the Easter story means for our daily lives.
If I wasn’t first an educator and second a priest, I would probably be a ninja. Not so much the assassin part but the gathering of intelligence and being a disputer bit, working (one would hope) for the forces of good, seeking truth and trying to hold the lawless and unjust to account. Of course, ninjas, I have been reliably informed, belong more to medieval Japan than modern day London. So being part of an elite fighting force in this day and age could be tricky. That and the fact that I would probably need to give up my love and near-daily consumption of crisps.
I spent a lot of time when I was working in secondary education helping young people to plan their next steps. To figure out not what they were going to do for the rest of their lives, but to try to imagine what they could, and indeed what they would love to, be doing in the immediate years following their GCSEs or A levels. What we do and who we are, though different, can of course be inextricably linked. What we find after Holy Week is that we have been asked to do an awful lot in seven days, and the questions that follow move us more towards what we are as a result of what we have done, what we have seen and heard.
It is a bit of strange week after the resurrection, as it must have been when it actually happened 2,000 plus years ago. Everyone involved in church, helping to make this feast and celebration, is exhausted after Holy Week, and so too must have been Jesus’s first disciples, men and women (here I must stress that women were always there, front and centre). We have all been taken on an emotional roller-coaster, which in fact continues with the empty tomb. Death cannot hold us; death cannot hold love. We are free because of this. We are free to share this Good News with the world.
How then can we reconcile that sense of liberation with those who have lost loved ones, homes and their livelihoods in the floods in the eastern South African province of KwaZulu-Natal? Or with the continued and relentless attacks on the Ukraine and its people? Or with the challenge of trying to understand the rather incomprehensible policies of the Home Office? Resurrection doesn’t make the world peaceful, or equitable, but it makes these things possible. It gives us a very, very good start for the work we are called to do and the people we are called to be.
And herein, of course, lies the quandary. What exactly is it that we are called to be? I’ve been thinking a lot about calling in over the past few weeks, about how we live out that inner voice that asks us to be our authentic self, and about how the world doesn’t often give us room to listen, and test vocation. From the latin vocatio (summons), emerging from vocare (to call), that itself being from vox, (voice), we find ourselves pulled towards figuring out what we sound like when we move and live and have our being in God. Vocation, like resurrection has to be life giving. It can’t just been something that is experienced by proxy or voyeuristically.
There is so much work that needs to be done in terms of bringing this fact of liberation to bear on the systems and structures that we experience, live with, and indeed live through. Whatever stuff we do now has to be done in the light of the resurrection. That ‘stuff’ will be different for each and every one of us. Whether that is being a good and loving friend, partner, relative, parent, being a positive and affirming colleague at work, excelling as an athlete or creative, leading an organisation or a team, supporting community initiatives, or being part of a national campaign. There is so much of the world, of our society, and in our communities, that do not yet know the freedom and potential that has been given to us by an empty tomb. If anything, resurrection is and can be invigorating because it gives us permission to get closer to our vocation, to our fullest selves, to the movements and life-giving decisions that bring us back to love. If we have not been transformed by the resurrection, or the thought of it, that’s ok, because there is still time. Resurrection is for life, not just for Easter.