Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Easter 2005

 

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." -John 11:25

 

Meetings seem to be an inescapable part of church life. The church, like many other organizations, requires that people meet together from time to time to advance the work that must be done. For over a decade I was a member of a diocesan body that employed a training consultant for its members. Our consultant once commented that, in his place of work, he tried to attend only those meetings that are life giving. At first I thought his approach unrealistic. Who has the luxury of attending necessary meetings and gatherings based on whether or not they are "life giving". However, the idea behind the comment has a great deal of merit-especially for the Christian Church. I wonder how meetings and other activities would rate, if they were judged according to such a principle. Does this meeting, this event, this service, provide something life giving for those who attended?

 

The encounter between Jesus and the sisters of Lazarus was filled with pain and difficulty. Martha and Mary were grief stricken. The community was in formal mourning.

 

Jesus himself wept with compassion. It is in the midst of this scene of turmoil and distress that Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life". The raising of Lazarus by Jesus transforms the encounter into a life-giving event. We know, of course, that the life-giving nature of Jesus is not limited to this one event. The "I am" means that the entire person of Christ is life giving. Christians are called to follow Christ in this by living lives that are life giving. Thankfully, a great many people do so. I think each of us can identify someone as a life giving presence in our life. There may well have been times when they found it difficult to do so. Indeed, engaging the call to be life giving or life affirming often requires a willingness to encounter the agony and anxiety of others.

 

The people of God are placed in the world in order that they may be life giving and life affirming. Resurrection and life are an essential characteristic of God's people in Christ.

 

The events of Holy Week and Easter are a time to pray about and ponder this particular calling. As a spiritual exercise, and with courage and humility, we might consider two very related questions. To what extent does the Church enter into the pain and fractured nature of our world? To what extent does the Church embody the life giving nature of its Lord?

 

Easter sees us celebrate the saving work of Christ who is resurrection and life. We can give thanks that he lives in the life giving influences of others. Let us pray that, in the eyes of others, he lives in us as well.

 

The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis,  Lent & Easter 2005