Next week is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pete Seeger. For those unfamiliar with the work of this American folk singer/songwriter and social activist, one of his best known songs, written in the sixties, ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ was made popular by many singers and groups including:The Byrds, Judy Collins and The Seekers. What is fascinating about this song is that, apart from the beginning of each verse and a single line at the end, it is more or less a verbatim quote from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. ‘There is a time for … everything under Heaven’.
Easter is the time when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day after the horror, despair and finality of His crucifixion. It is a time of joyful celebration in the Church, because seemed lost forever has been found again. But … on Easter day, Sri Lankan Christians celebrating the great mystery of Christ’s Resurrection, were slaughtered by suicide bombers at three Churches, as were foreign tourists at a number of hotels. This follows on from worshippers being gunned down at Friday prayers at two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in mid-March. So where is the Resurrection Joy and the Christian Hope in all of that? Where is the Resurrection Joy and the Christian Hope for those who have lost friends or relatives over the last week or two?
After the death of his Mother, Henri Nouwen wrote to his Father:
“The best way I can express the meaning death receives in the light of the resurrection of Jesus is to say: “Love is stronger than death” and it’s with this great divine love in our hearts, a love far stronger than death, that our lives can be lived as a promise that the Spirit of Christ can never be destroyed.”
In this Easter season the empty tomb of Easter invites us to see life where we expect to see only death. The empty tomb invites us to search for love where there only seems to be hate. The empty tomb invites us to seek peace where violence seems to have the upper hand. The empty tomb invites us to sing a song of redemption when the world sees only sin. The empty tomb invites us to proclaim hope where there seems to be only hopelessness. Because whether we are grieving or joyful, Christ rose again for each and every one of us. Whether we doubt or believe, Love conquered death. Whether we are fearful or hopeful, God’s new creation is here, now, and is all around us.
Leo Tolstoy wrote that he became a Christian “because he saw that the men and women round about him who believed in the faith, received from it a power that enabled them to face life and death with peace and joy”. We can help to shine the Light of Christ in the dark places of our world, in the dark times of our lives and in the darkness of the grief and sadness of those around us, if we: “let our light so shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father who is in Heaven”.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.