Alleluia! Christ is Risen! A reflection for Easter Sunday 2021

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

John 20:1-18

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Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The news of a Green Energy Park here in Hempsted is an exciting prospect. The creative transformation by Enovert of the former tip is welcome. It’s particularly exciting that the plans involve the development of the site to produce green energy for Gloucester. It will also help the environment too.

Picture the scene. Walk along the Glevum Way, through St Swithun’s Churchyard with its gold Eco Church award, across the field and along the footpath. Stand next to Lady Well and look across to the Severn. There are no lorries climbing the hillside. There are simply hundreds of trees planted by local residents. Hempsted Woods is now a favourite area to visit. The woods are a place teeming with wildlife and birds. They bring new life not only to the land but to all who visit too.

Gloucester is noted for its regeneration projects. There have been many projects in recent years that have transformed buildings and places for the good: the Docks, Discover DeCrypt, Project Pilgrim, Llanthony Secunda, Blackfriars to name but a few. Now the new Green Energy Park and Hempsted Woods will transform our natural environment. All of us need to take small steps to address the climate and ecological emergency that we face. But we also need big and bold steps for climate justice such that the city council and Enovert have taken together. I’m signing up to go tree planting as soon as lockdown is lifted.

Transformation, regeneration, a new way of seeing and perceiving, a new way of living. The climate emergency demands this of us; there is no time to lose.

The story of Easter is also one of transformation, a new way of seeing and perceiving, a new way of living with God. Ponder the story of Good Friday. Jesus dies watched by those who love him most: his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene and his friend John. Their grief is unimaginable, the horror too extreme. Yet three days later the risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden where his body had been buried. Jesus conquers death. He lives again and through his death and resurrection, offers us all the promise of a new life with God both now and into eternity.

Rightly we celebrate the regeneration of buildings and land. We see, experience and care for them in a different way. The story of Easter invites us all to live in a different way too in order that we might live with God forever. With Mary Magdalene, we cannot remain in the security of the garden. Life cannot stay the same. That is true for buildings and places. It is true for the way in which we understand what it is to be the Church, reimagining the use of church buildings and the shape of parishes for the future. Above all it is true for us as individuals and as communities. The pandemic has revealed huge fissures in our society and between nations. We may understand intellectually the desire to build back better. But what does that mean for us in practice? For example, how might we have to live differently here in Gloucester in order that all people across the world can receive the covid vaccine? It wasn’t until I went to live and work in Swaziland that I realised that the way in which I live here in the UK, impacts negatively on the environment both here and there. Now the pandemic has also made that sense of connection one to another so very clear.

Easter is the source of new life and new beginnings. The joy and hope of the resurrection is woven through these ongoing difficult days of pandemic. As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ let us take courage from the promise that Jesus is alive and a new world is possible.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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