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I am not sure how you are ‘arriving’ at this particular Easter – whether you are energised or exhausted. In terms of marking time, it is of course the second successive Easter during COVID-19 restrictions and while there are definite signs of hope, there will no doubt be bumps along the road. These are testing times to be sure, but they have also been instructive – there is much we have learned about ourselves, the world and our faith. It will not be a case of ‘going back to how things were’ – we have witnessed too much in ourselves and others to do that. I suspect God’s invitation is how we will incorporate these things so that we emerge from COVID better and wiser than before.

As I ponder this season of Lent during this pandemic a thread that has emerged has been that Christ came to be with us in our joys and sorrows. I am reminded of one translation from the beginning of the Gospel of John which says, ‘The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.’

Rather than being objects ‘done to’ we are accompanied by God in Christ being with us (Emmanuel literally means this and, of course, we have Pentecost to look forward to) – in Jesus, we see God experiencing and redeeming all that the world could throw at him. This is the God of reckless, fierce love – Jesus truly is compassionate - the word compassion really means entering into the suffering of others – it is personal, it is messy and untidy. In the Parable popularly known as the Parable of the Good Samaritan – the hero of the story gets stuck in cleaning the wounds of the victim, putting him on his donkey so he has to walk and then looking after him personally and then paying the inn keeper to maintain that care. Loving our neighbour/neighbourhood can be dirty, time consuming and often at personal expense.

So, as we reflect on the lessons learned in this pandemic, we also can anticipate that many needs in the neighbourhood will need to be addressed in new and creative ways. This is an exciting and challenging time to practice the way of Jesus.

I hope to write further as we explore Easter, but for now, my love and greetings to you all. Christ has risen! Alleluia!