This Easter, make time to stop and feel the pain. It may just transform what you do next.
Here at Cinnamon, we’re focused on “doing”. We’re high on the verbs and low on the adjectives – providing practical support for churches who want to transform their communities.
We love nothing more than being busy and seeing God at work. So, when I read these words from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I stopped in my tracks: “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
On a global scale, there have been plenty of ‘interruptions’ over the past few years: Brexit, COVID, Black Lives Matter marches, and war in Ukraine.
The word ‘interruption’ feels inadequate for the seismic events that have forced us to rethink the foundations of society.
Life isn’t just about ‘doing’
As churches, we’ve battled to respond. Our buildings have become vaccination hubs, foodbanks, centres for gathering and coordinating support. It’s been wonderful and thoroughly exhausting.
As the tides of change continue to batter us, no doubt, we’ll adapt and push on accordingly.
But life isn’t just about ‘doing’.
As we approach Easter, we are prompted to interrupt the busyness to stop at the foot of the cross.
It’s not an easy interruption.
We’re not invited to have a ‘day off’, but rather to reflect on Christ’s pain and suffering.
Pain is a choice
Of course, we don’t naturally choose to dwell on pain. There is nothing comfortable about sorrow.
Our inclination is to move on from the anguish of Good Friday and the anticipation of Easter Saturday so we can celebrate the risen Lord on Easter Day.
But the mourning is important.
Good Friday is the reminder of our sin, our helplessness, and out inadequacies.
To fully appreciate the true miracle and glory of Easter Sunday, we need the pain of Good Friday. The two are interdependent.
In their 2021 Easter reflection, the Boaz Trust – which supports asylum seekers and refugees – observed:
“A purpose of lament is to sit with the pain of others – to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. To move us enough that we are changed and that as a result of our changing we will act in solidarity with the suffering of others.”
We need to understand
1.3 million people – including half a million children – will fall below the poverty line in the UK next year.
Ten million Ukrainians have fled their homes with tens of thousands arriving in our communities.
We need to act. We need to respond. But we also need to understand.
When speaking with Dr. Krish Kandiah from Sanctuary Foundation about our response to the refugee crisis, justice advocate, Danielle Strickland pointed out that, “before we act we must feel.”
Why? It’s what Jesus does. At the grave of Lazarus, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35.)
May our lives be interrupted
Sympathy looks down with pity. But empathy looks into the eyes of another human being and seeks to understand. Because from a place of understanding we can respond more effectively.
As lecturer and author Brené Brown points out “Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”
It is our prayer that we will be interrupted this Easter by the suffering of others. That from our place of lament, we will be moved to respond with the heart of Christ.
May we embrace the pain of Good Friday and the uncertainty of Easter Saturday so we can share completely in the glory of Easter Day.