Easter Thursday, 16th April 2020
When we celebrate Easter, we are really standing in the middle of a second ‘Big Bang’, a tumultuous surge of divine energy as fiery and as intense as the very beginning of the universe. What a recent writer wonderfully calls ‘the fire in the equations’ (Kitty Ferguson 2004), the energy in the mathematical and physical structure of things, is here at Easter, and when in the recent ceremonies of the night before Easter we light a bonfire and bless it and light candles from it, we may well think of the first words of God in Genesis, ‘Let there be light!’ On Easter Eve, we begin the reading with the story of creation itself, because that is what we are now witnessing, the creative power re-establishing the whole world.Rowan Williams: Tokens of Trust p95
There may be a clue there to what we mean by ‘spiritual communion’ as we celebrate Christ as Risen in this our upper room, hidden from the world, in ways that the world might consider arcane and irrelevant. Luke could just as well have said in his recounting of the story of the healing of the man born blind, Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what we were really doing rather than in what they were really doing when they crucified Christ, though of course it means this too. For what Peter and John are doing is not merely of local interest but demonstrating God’s creative power re-establishing the whole world as Rowan Williams so creatively puts it. Peter then goes on to explain this in terms that re-establish Israel, too, as significant for all:
You are the heirs of the prophets, the heirs of the covenant God made with our ancestors when he told Abraham: in your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Yesterday’s two disciples are brought back to Jerusalem by their meeting with Jesus because it is from there that this conflagration of God’s renewing Spirit will spread out to the whole world, as they must wait there for Jesus, in a sense, to re-commission them and send them out in the power of his Spirit.
So you see how it is written that the Christ must suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
So we’d better enjoy this isolation while we can and not get too used to it – spiritual communion will only take us so far. It too cries out for incarnation.