We could weep with Mary at a loved one’s tomb and wonder why death is a fact of life.
We could run with Peter to check out the evidence and still be left with all sorts of questions.
We could cower in a locked room fearful of what may come of us.
We could engage in a debate along a dusty road as the sun sets ahead of us.
We could welcome a stranger alongside us, who will explain everything and become known in the breaking of bread.

Or we could think of those who woke up that morning in Jerusalem to just another day of chores, to reflect upon those for whom the events of the last few days had no impact whatsoever and consider if we can find the Risen Christ in the places that never get a mention.

Those of us who grew up with the Beatles ringing in our ears will know of Eleanor Rigby. We will know that she picked up rice at the church where a wedding had been; that she wore a face kept in a jar at the door. We will know that when she died no one attended the funeral and that there was nothing to say about her except her name.
Just a few years later Paul McCartney would revive the theme of loneliness in ‘Just Another Day.’ On that occasion, the character in the song didn’t even get referred to by name, she was just ‘she’.

• What of these and countless millions whose names will never be recorded, who will not shout out ‘Alleluia’ on Easter Day?
• What of those who will not find the tomb empty but find instead that death is death?
• What of those who will not hold a conversation with a Risen Christ, watch him break bread for them and place their fingers into his wounds?
• What of them?

And what of us when our prayer life runs dry?
When the night seems never ending?
When no one notices what we are going through?

Is Christ alive for the dead of this world?
Is Christ alive for the unloved, the uncared for and unrepentant?

As I look back over my life I have found Christ in the unlikeliest of places.
• Oh I have found him in the glorious hymns that have sustained the generations, of course I have;
• I have found him in the simplicity of a country chapel and the grandeur of a cathedral;
• I have found him in the eyes of those who pledge themselves to each other at a communion rail and in the pride parents have for their newly-baptised infant;
• I have found him in a conversation over Easter breakfast and in the handshake at the end of a funeral visit.

Yes I have of course found him in all of these places.

• However it is also true that I have found him sadly missing in the pettiness of church politics;
• I have found him missing in the intransigence of those who will not grasp the need to sing a new song;
• I have found him missing in places where he should have been.

But it is equally true that I have found him in places where I never expected.

I grew up in an all-white coal mining community.

The first Hindu I ever knowingly met was at the age of 19 when I worked in the building industry. Vijay welcomed me into his home and broke bread for me. His wife Mrs Badiger also served up some very hot dishes!

The first Sikh I met was at a bus stop in Rusholme when I was a theological student thirty years ago; it was there as we chatted about faith that my heart was strangely warmed and I realised for the very first time that Christianity did not have a monopoly on truth.

Neither Vijay nor the unnamed Sikh would be at the empty tomb but both were close to God and God was close to them.

And there have been other people, other places far from the Easter liturgy and the assembled People of God where I have encountered the Risen Christ.

It is comforting to know, more than comforting, reassuring even, to know that if the Risen Christ is in what I thought of as the dead places of life and amongst those who would never acknowledge his name, then he can be everywhere and indeed is everywhere, in all corners of society, every home, every work desk, every single human being, God in Christ is present.

So that when I missed him in the Church Council that was little more than factions fighting their corner, he was there all along.
When I missed him in the stubborn so-and-sos who would not budge while the church was becoming less relevant and less meaningful by the day, he was there all along.
When I missed him in those places where he should have been most evident, he was there all along.

It’s just that I missed him and that’s not his fault. It may have been mine, it may have been someone else’s. But it wasn’t his. Because he was there.

So I look to myself, the way that I behave and speak, my attitudes and beliefs and wonder if I have blocked the view others might have of the Risen Christ in their life and circumstances.

There were plenty of people in Jerusalem that first morning of Christ’s triumph over death but they wouldn’t have known a thing about it.
• They weren’t the one who conversed with angels in the garden.
• They didn’t run with Peter to the tomb.
• They weren’t in the upper room cowering for their lives.
• They didn’t set out for Emmaus with Cleopas.
They were just getting on with their lives blissfully unaware that the world had changed forever, that God had reconciled the universe to himself in Christ and death was no more.

No difference really to those who will not be at the garden tomb today but the garden centre right now.
Nor to those not running to verify the testimony of a woman but jogging the streets in preparation for a 10k.
Nor to those who sit behind locked doors fearing arrest but behind closed doors fearing a visit from an abusive partner or parent.
Nor to those heading for Emmaus but heading to the car boot.

Christ died for us all whether we know it or not, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

And Christ rose proving once and for all that good overcomes evil, that day follows night and life death.

So we must throw open the doors of our churches, not so that others may come in but so that we might get out and find the Risen Christ.

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