This is my first northern hemisphere spring. My first springtime Easter.
Today in Beijing the sky is blue. Unusually blue. The trees are shimmering with new green. It is warm. The air is good to breathe.
In the Good Fridays of my remembering it is not just autumn but grey. There is a chill in the air. It is not difficult to imagine that the sky might turn black as Jesus cries his last and dies on a cross on a hill outside the city gates.
Truth be told the weather forecast for my old hometown is, to the degree, the same as it is for Beijing today. That autumn, this spring, not so different. And judging by photos online, the sky is also blue in some parts of New Zealand today.
Sun shining or raining; warm or cold; rich or poor; lonely or surrounded by loved ones; coming slowly or abruptly; spring or autumn; today will be the day that many people die. Every day, in the midst of our living, dying is close at hand. The griefs we carry with us. The bare facts of our humanity. We are born. We will die. This is true.
Today, we Christians say, today is the day for remembering that this living and dying is not strange to God. God, in Christ, enters so fully into our humanity that even death isn’t strange to a God we believe to be immortal. Crying out on the cross, God experiences godforsakenness. The paradox of Good Friday.
And the hope of this story, of this believing, is that death and grief are not the last word. That all the hatred, the sin, that brought us to this moment: the religious and political and human powers that did their worst in crucifying an innocent man; they will be overcome by Love, by goodness, by life and hope. That’s Sunday’s story. That’s always Sunday’s story. And by grace, an everyday story too.