Bishop Richard’s March letter
As we prepare ourselves to remember again Christ’s death on Good Friday, I wonder if you have ever thought that our situation must be fairly grim for a solution like that to be required. If we avoid the blasphemous caricatures of the cross, we see something extraordinary. Christ willingly gives himself up for us; God the Father gives over his own son and the very integrity of the Trinity is torn to breaking point as Jesus cries in dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
Although Christians tie themselves in knots over theories of what is going on here, the basic fact is that God in Christ dies for us and that death potentially restores us to a relationship with God that is broken in every human being (that is if we accept it as a gift). It is this broken relationship (what the Bible calls sin) that lies at the root of every other thing we label sin. In fact it lies at the root of everything that is wrong with the world, since ultimately everything is connected to everything else.
When the Apostle John said, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son”, this was what he thought love looked like – pure self-giving for the good of others. God’s love is much more than romantic feelings, or wishing us well, or unconditional positive regard. It is a tough, steely determination to rescue us at the greatest conceivable cost to himself.
Part of our discipline in Lent is to reflect on the state of our own hearts, to recognise all is not as it should be, nor even as we would wish it to be. A right recognition of our brokenness magnifies all the more the glory of what God has done. However ghastly our failings, however dark our thoughts (which we are rather glad remain private), however far from God we feel, the joyful message of Easter is that we can be forgiven and given a new start – and that means absolutely anyone. And not only that, but Christ’s resurrection means that the life that coursed through his veins can be ours too. It’s no wonder we celebrate.
Wishing you a sombre end to Lent and Holy Week but a joyful celebration of Easter.