Friday, April 02, 2021

Dean of ChristChurch Maria Jansson. Photo: Noel Browne

By the Very Revd Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford

THIS has been one awful year. I do not need to spell it out as the challenges have been different for everyone: mental health, money, job and business worries, sickness, grief, loneliness, domestic violence, languishing in nursing homes and hospitals without visitors, longing to meet and hug family and friends, stress juggling child minding and schooling with working from home, addiction, relationship melt down, loss of community…the list is endless.

It is hard to imagine a future when we are completely disempowered by lockdowns and problems. Pain usually nails us to the moment; it is hard to see beyond what is going on. Crucifixion takes many forms.

As Christians, we proclaim that Christ is risen on Easter Day. That is not some cheesy religious platitude but comes from a profound experience and conviction that God has created life to be stronger than death, love to defeat evil and truth to overcome deceit.

It is a declaration that we are hardwired to prevail, to overcome adversity…to come through.

I have been working with people now for 46 years, as teacher and priest. There have been times when I have seen people go through hell on earth and wondered how in the name of all that is holy will they ever come through this.

With love and time, most have prevailed to a greater or lesser degree. The key factor has been the presence of love and solidarity in their lives, the love of someone or of being loved. When someone sticks with us through the mess, and we accept that love, we will make it.

The whole Easter story is a story of solidarity and love. Jesus is the self-revelation of God in human form. He was betrayed by friends, misunderstood, met absolute injustice and was tortured to death. His crime was to proclaim the unconditional love of God to sinners, women, lepers, outsiders, the demented and misfits.

When he met living death in people, he healed them, forgave, restored dignity, independence and hope. He then himself entered into that very exclusion and powerlessness on the cross. In the Creed we say, “he descended into hell and on the third day rose again”. He descended into the hell that can be human life. His love was total solidarity, and that solidarity was to raise us up from the living deaths we know each day.

So we dare to say, this pandemic will end and we will walk into a different future together, bruised, limping, grieving, broke – but there is life out there to be grasped and lived again. When our strength is zero, we call on the power of resurrection to fuel this new beginning. There is work to be done, rebuilding our connectedness with each other, rebuilding employment, community and recovering purpose and joy.

By the power of resurrection, we will make it through together. I pray that the hope of Easter sustains, empowers and enables you prevail adversity. Happy Easter.

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