At the beginning of Passover, the head of a Jewish household declares, "This is a night like no other!"
And, for us, this is a day like no other. It has been a Holy Week like no other, a Maundy Thursday like no other, a Good Friday like no other. Now, this is an Easter like no other. What do you think? How have these weeks been for you? For me it has felt empty. It has felt confusing. It has felt like no other.
This is a day like no other. This is an Easter like no other. This is a Sunday of the Resurrection like no other.
Easter has not been cancelled nor has it been postponed. The Church has not vanished.
The colours of the hangings that mark the seasons have still, in some churches, changed from the purple of Lent into the red of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Palm crosses were still available for us at St Matthew - St Aidan, thanks to two of the faithful in our midst. Even though the barren colour of Good Friday was part of the journey of Holy Week, still that emptiness gave way to the white of Easter.
On this day, a day like no other, it is the darkness that vanishes.
On this day, like no other, the isolation that we may feel amidst COVID-19 vanishes. The fear and worry we may be feeling vanishes. They vanish because this day, like no other, is a day of hope. It's a day of new life, new understanding, new meaning. It is a day that beckons us to experience the hope of new life. It is an invitation to trod on with the hope of deeper understanding and meaning. It is a day like no other that promises us that we are not alone no matter how our feelings may ebb and flow in the face of the realities of life in this world. Because of this day, there is hope beyond Gethsemane.
Because of this day, like no other, the Church will never vanish. The Church will never vanish because of the Risen Jesus Christ. He lives on in the Church throughout the world. The Church lives on because it is his body in this world. The Church lives on because of you, because you are the members of his body - the Body of the Risen Christ.
When you pray for someone, you embody hope. When you reach out to someone in need, you embody hope. When you hold fast to faith in the midst of darkness, you embody hope, hope for others to taste, hope for you to taste. Because of this day like no other, there is hope.
There is hope. There is forgiveness. And there is love. It is hope and it is forgiveness and it is love that are here in this day. They don't magically change things but they do enable us to venture on and to reach into a sense of peace as we learn more always on the journey of faith.
There is another side to the message of this day. It's quite simple yet it is profound. It is simply that you are forgiven because you are forgivable. You are loved because you are lovable. That is what empowers you to forgive and that is what empowers you to love. And that gives hope. That is why the Church will never vanish. The Church lives on in the Risen Jesus Christ in the kingdom of heaven where he is surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before. And the Church lives on in the forgiveness you bring and in the love you share.
And so Easter goes on forever. Easter is a promise in the now and an invitation into forever.
Alleluia … alleluia … alleluia. Christ is risen. May the blessing and the promise of Easter touch your heart especially on this day, the day like no other.