Fifth Sunday of Easter - Choral Evensong

  • Preacher

    Sub Dean - Revd Canon Michael Rawson

‘They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.’

The gospel narrative of the resurrection as told by Mark is so familiar to many of us that it’s rather easy to ignore and overlook those words.  ‘They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.’ On the face of it the three women have just been told the most amazing and earth-shattering news, that the friend they had watched suffer and die was alive once more as he had promised them and they would soon see him again. Why were they so afraid?

Some of you might have seen the BBC documentary earlier this week, ‘Anxiety and me’ which was an amazingly candid insight into Nadiya Hussein’s personal life. Nadiya is the bubbly and chatty winner of the Great British Bake Off who told her the story of her daily struggle with extreme anxiety caused by prejudice and bullying as a school girl. It was heart breaking to her her daily fear of catastrophe and the possibility of death for herself or her loved ones and how she tried to cope by putting herself under excessive pressure which led to losing most of her friends. During a cookery demonstration she admitted to the large, excited audience that she never wore her glasses on stage so that she couldn’t see people’s faces. She could pretend that they weren’t there.

In a very frank scene she allowed the cameras to watch her undertaking cognitive behavioural therapy. She had never had a proper diagnosis of her condition and though it was not a magical cure, it was a positive marker for living with her condition and not being limited or defined by it. I recommend you watch the programme which is part of the BBC Mental Health week.

Talking about our own mental health is something we all find difficult and it is encouraging that awareness is being raised and taboos challenged by such programmes.

Extreme anxiety can be caused by trauma and stress so it’s perhaps more understandable that the two Marys and Salome in our gospel reading were seized by terror and amazement and said nothing to anyone for they were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? For those of us who know the whole story, this fear is transformed by a number of encounters with the Risen Christ who says to his followers, Peace be with you! The terror dissipates in the light and peace and hope of the Risen Saviour.

For many there is no magic cure to their anxiety but rather it is about learning to live with it and finding ways with which to cope. What is important is that we all take our mental health and wellbeing seriously and we try to look after ourselves and each other. A couple of years ago, our wonderful friend, Marion Marples, wrote a Journey of Hope leaflet to be used whilst walking around the Cathedral to promote healing and well being. Each of you has been given a copy of the leaflet and I would urge you to take it away use it; listening to what God might be saying to you on your pilgrimage through life. In the midst of our own fears, doubts and anxiety may we hear the words of Christ addressed to each of us, ‘Peace be with you.’