A letter from Andrew Clarke ...
Through Lent we prepare for our observance of Holy Week and our celebration of Easter. It’s a time of year when we consider events which changed the course of history, and a time of great theological significance. If at Christmas the pertinent theological word is ‘Incarnation’, then at Holy Week and Easter it is ‘Atonement’.
What’s ‘Atonement’ all about? Within Christian theology there are several different approaches, and what follows is an approach I heard from an Orthodox priest, and which I hope you may find helpful as you get ready for Easter:
‘Because God is love he cannot bear to leave us, so he becomes one of us, and enters into the futility and mortality of our world, and in the gospels we see how he interacts with us, and how God’s word speaks to us:
‘When the woman in her brokenness goes from relationship to relationship, seeking true love, God sits beside her at the well and says "I am the Water of Life, and I love you."
‘When a man abuses his fellow countrymen for career and money, and is estranged and outcast, God says, "Come down from the tree—I love you."
‘When a woman is caught in adultery, God says, "I do not condemn you. Sin no more."
‘When he sees the corruption of creation and the futility of random illness, or the death of an innocent, or the despair of loneliness, God says, "Take up your mattress, or Tabitha rise. Go in peace."
‘When fear, cowardice, envy, jealousy, greed and political ambition took God and spat upon him, and beat him and crucified him, God says, "I forgive you."
‘There is no place where God is not. There is no place to escape God’s love. There is no place to hide from God’s love. God’s love flows from his heart like a river of fire. God says: "For those who love me my love is light and warmth, but for those who hate me and close their eyes to my love it is a consuming fire.
‘When the final separation comes with death, God says, "My love is stronger than death. Even though you make the grave your bed, I am there." And God dies. But God says, "I am life and in the power of my life and of my resurrection all are raised."’
May you by God’s grace learn more and more to accept his love for you, and by the same grace may you learn more and more to tell others (in word and deed) that they too are loved. And may we all rejoice together in his resurrection!
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