It seems to me that certain key truths in our lives are beyond words. Not for nothing has the Church brought poets, hymn writers, painters, artists and musicians into its life to express what words are not adequate to say. The same happens with those we love. We use signs and symbols to say what we mean – sometimes we say it with flowers. Our presents are not judged by their monetary value, indeed the smallest gift can be the most affecting: it is the love they express which counts.
I think Jesus knew this instinctively. It is worth noting that he wasn’t given to delivering great lectures, but did tell an amazing amount of parables. He asked many, many questions, and actually didn’t give a lot of answers. He had a way of inviting his listeners into the response required and showed his power by acts of love. He was a sure hand in what we might call ‘walking the walk’, rather than ‘talking the talk’. This marked him out from among the other religious teachers: it gave him an authority ‘not of the scribes and Pharisees.’
The mystery of Good Friday and Easter is one such key truth. We tell the story from the gospel accounts and can point to the after-effects in the lives of the apostles. We journey with Jesus as he walks the walk to the Cross through the services of Holy Week, and with flowers and Alleluias our churches burst into the new life He gives on Easter Day. In doing so we glimpse the glory of the God for whom death does not have the last word, not ever. Jesus does not just tell us this: he lives it, you could say he dies it, and is raised from the dead by the God for whom the first and last word is always Love.
We are called to live the risen life of Jesus too. Christ is risen, we are risen – that is from one of our Easter hymns. George Herbert, poet, pastor and priest, expresses it so beautifully, where else but in a poem:
Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise.
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.