Easter Sunday – Living in the Kingdom
Canon Treasurer - Revd Canon Leanne Roberts
The Kingdom is now. Today. Right now.
On Palm Sunday I shared an assertion by Marcus Aurelius, that we cannot lose another life than the one we’re living now; that we cannot lose either the past or the future, because we cannot lose what we do not have.
We only have the present moment, the here and now. In realizing and accepting this as the gift it is, we become free to be entirely ourselves, exactly as we were created to be, in every second.
It means we can let go of the past – of failure, regret, loss – for these times no longer exist and needn’t define how we live anymore. It means we need not worry about the future – about security, relationships, success – because the future does not yet exist, and is outside our control.
We have reflected this Holy Week upon the fears that beset us, and prevent us from being fully ourselves. Fear of loss, truth, love, being seen; fear of change, disgrace, death. These fears keep us stuck in the past, or worrying about our future. They mean we fantasize about what others expect of us, think of us, want from us.
But, in fact, there is only now. And God is here. The tomb of our deepest self in which we exist, in the dark, where it can difficult to breathe, has been flung open. Jesus offers us his hand, and invites us to emerge, with him, into the sunlight.
A poem, ‘Through the Gate’, by Malcolm Guite:
Begin the song exactly where you are,
For where you are contains where you have been
And holds the vision of your final sphere.
And do not fear the memory of sin;
There is a light that heals, and, where it falls,
Transfigures and redeems the darkest stain
Into translucent colour. Loose the veils
And draw the curtains back, unbar the doors,
Of that dread threshold where your spirit fails,
The hopeless gate that holds in all the fears
That haunt your shadowed city, fling it wide
And open to the light that finds, and fares
Through the dark pathways where you run and hide,
Through all the alleys of your riddled heart,
As pierced and open as his wounded side.
Open the map to Him and make a start,
And down the dizzy spirals, through the dark,
His light will go before you. Let him chart
And name and heal. Expose the hidden ache
To him, the stinging fires and smoke that blind
Your judgement, carry you away, the mirk
And muted gloom in which you cannot find
The love that you once thought worth dying for.
Call him to all you cannot call to mind.
He comes to harrow Hell and now to your
Well-guarded fortress let his love descend.
The icy ego at your frozen core
Can hear his call at last. Will you respond?
Will you respond?
‘Do not fear’, we heard earlier in our passage from Isaiah. ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’
Will you respond to the persistent call of God to live a new kind of life? One where there is only the love that casts out all fear, which is freely given to all who wish to accept it, which only exists in the now?
This is the life of the Kingdom of God.
A Kingdom where we live as Easter people, those who know that the resurrection of Jesus changed everything, once for all, by showing us that death – whether the death of our bodies or those other, more internal deaths we experience – is, while a necessary and authentic part of the Christian life, never the end, but a new beginning.
The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of love. This is not fearful love, manipulated love, unreciprocated love. It is love completely accepted, freely given and received. Love that is never too late, love without regret, love without fear of rejection.
Lutheran pastor and theologian Nadia Bolz Weber writes: ‘[At Easter], God keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the useless graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over again.’
Our choice about how to live in each moment is not an act of will, so much as an act of love. We are loved into life; again, and again, in each moment. We are loved into dignity and integrity and courage. We are loved into freedom; to love and to be loved without fear.
The Kingdom is yours, is mine. The Kingdom is now.
The Kingdom is love.