Aedan has been poorly – for just over the last week, he has been suffering from the ravages of chicken pox. For over a week, he has been cut off from all that he loves – outside contact with the world, his playgroup, his “mums & toddlers” groups, his grandparents, even just going out. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Mummy went off for the weekend with Grandma, leaving Daddy to look after poorly Aedan and Maayana, who at least was enjoying Mummy’s immunity to chicken pox. Further north, Tom was left to look after his two boys as Jenny also joined Natalie & Diane at a weekend for women at Capernwray Bible School. I am proud of my sons, and a bit amazed: following the birth of Ben, Nat rose brilliantly to the occasion looking after his wife and new born son, Tom looked after his two boys without Jenny as they recovered from gyppy tummies, and Tim took on Aedan and Maayana. In contrast, when I looked after our four children for a weekend, I had widespread sympathy from the parish, and dined out on the ‘egg flop’ story for months, my feeble attempt at cooking scrambled eggs in a microwave.
It would have been much easier for Tim if Aedan had not had chicken pox – at least Tim could have had visitors, could have fed the children at The Squirrel carvery, could have taken them out to visit the park, but instead, the time was spent in isolation.
I saw Aedan on Tuesday evening. His face was scabby, but his smile was broad. He flung his arms around me and gave me a big hug, “Granddad!”, as he snuggled his running nose into my shoulder. No longer in isolation, he was enjoying life in all its fullness, running up and down the slope and steps outside Bispham Endowed School for sheer exuberance of being alive – well, almost, until exasperated parents made it clear they wanted to leave. What a contrast – from the isolation to enjoying fellowship, from darkness to light, from poorly to well; from grumpiness to joy. As I watched him running around, I was reminded of Easter joy after the dark night of Good Friday.
Despite what some people try to make out, God made the universe with a moral DNA; there is clear right and wrong, and we instinctively know it even when we pretend otherwise. When (not if!) we go against that moral imperative woven deep into God’s creation, we offend the righteousness of our holy God and send ripples throughout His universe. This deviation is universal (‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’, Romans 3.23), and lethal (‘for the wages of sin is death’ Romans 6.23); cut off from the source of all life , we are dead in our sins, like Aedan in his isolation – unable to enjoy fellowship, light and life, destined instead for eternal destruction. This is the state of Jesus, lying in the tomb. He has become the object of God’s wrath, dying on the cross for our sin. We identify with him on the cross, and join him there by faith, and lie where we deserve, in the eternal isolation of the tomb of death. Paul wrote ‘for the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 6.23) The Bible.
Easter is about God’s great reversal – in raising Christ from the dead, God raises all who are identified with him by faith, or as Paul puts it ‘if we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.’ (Romans 6.5), or to finish Romans 6.23, ‘for the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord’. Jesus’s death on the cross is God’s judgement against all the moral perturbations of His universe, including ours; Jesus’ resurrection is his triumph of love over law, of life over death, of hope over despair, of future over past, including ours. The only question that remains is whether we will, by faith, identify with Jesus in both death and resurrection. When the answer is ‘Yes’, we are ready to have the wonderful celebration Easter Day is meant to signify, a breaking free from isolation to full fellowship, light and life.
Praying that you may find in identifying with Christ Jesus in his death and resurrection true life and light and peace with our heavenly Holy Father.
Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,