Recently, I was looking through some photographs that Peter and I took on our holiday to Australia in April 2013 as part of my sabbatical leave. It is hard to believe it was four years ago! I have always loved photographs and when I received my first camera for one of my teenage birthdays, I was delighted. Over the years since, I am of those people who at all kinds of events, holidays, family birthdays, weddings and so on, have my camera at the ready. Once a film was completed, I took it to be developed and then filed the best photos in albums. I have shelves of them and I still like being able to pick one up to browse and enjoy reminiscing. However, when I received my first digital camera in 2009 this practice changed and I don't really know why. Instead whenever I took photographs, for example after a holiday, I would upload them onto to my computer instead, still filed neatly but in a different way. After Peter died, I realised that, apart from our wedding album, I had no albums of photos of anything we had done together and, even though I can go to my computer and have a look, it just didn't feel the same. So, I have rectified that and over the last few months have revisited all those electronically stored photographs but instead of having prints done to put into an album, I have created "photo books", one for every year and one of our holiday to Australia. I have really enjoyed doing it and those photographs have helped me to remember all the happy and special times we shared together.
As I write this, I am busy preparing various services for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. As I do and as I revisit the familiar stories in the Bible of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the joy of Easter morning, it feels almost like looking at photographs. The biblical texts set those events in real-time and within history. We know there was a King Herod and a Governor called Pilate and there are other historians such as Flavius Josephus who has included references to Jesus and the origins of Christianity. Josephus' "Antiquities of the Jews", written around 93-94AD, includes two references to Jesus Christ and one to John the Baptist. So, we know that the events we remember did happen.
Of course, we have no photographs of those events but we have at least two visible reminders: our act of Holy Communion when we break bread and drink wine to remember Jesus' last Passover meal with His disciples. We remember that Jesus gave Himself for us; to take away the sins of the world and its people. The other reminder is the cross on which Jesus died. During Lent, I have been using a Holding Cross to assist me in my prayers. A Holding Cross is uniquely designed to fit comfortably in the palm of the hand. It has no special power. It is simply a reminder of the price Jesus paid so that all may come to know the love of God. However, the Cross of Jesus was not a comfortable one! Far from it: it was a place of intense cruelty, pain, suffering and eventually death. So, a cross helps us to remember. You can of course have crosses that bear the body of Jesus (called crucifixes) but in our tradition, we remember that the Cross is empty because, despite all of His suffering and death, Jesus overcame and, yes, even rose from the dead; the truth we celebrate at Easter. So, I invite you to ponder the empty Cross. Life is not always easy and, from my experience of recent months, I can testify to that but Easter reminds us that there is HOPE and LIFE and LOVE, all offered to us through the Cross of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour who is alive and who offers us that same Resurrection Life.
Happy Easter to you all!
Every blessing, Deborah