Pastoral letter from Richard Steven, The Rectory, Herstmonceux Tel 01323 833124

e mail: ra_steven@hotmail.com

Dear Church Members and Friends,

The Angel said to the ladies who visited the tomb “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. (Mark 16v6) 

I find this quote quite funny, because I believe it is part of my job to try to help people be really amazed about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But here the Angel is trying somehow to stop the early disciples being too amazed. I guess we can all get over excited!!! 

However for us in the 21st Century since Jesus split human time in half, I am quite convinced that we do need to learn and realise afresh that this is the greatest miracle that was performed in the time that Jesus the Christ was among us on earth. The Book of Genesis describes Gods totally amazing creation of the universe and all life on earth in a way that we can all comprehend, but through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus we have the start of a new creation, a creation which goes beyond human death, all suffering and all decay. 

J R Tolkein who, among other things, was a great philologist, but best known today for writing The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, even made up a new word to describe such an event as the resurrection of Jesus. He made it up because he said “no word existed to describe a sudden, unexpected, and wonderful turn for good in an absolutely dire circumstance”. The word is ‘Eucastrophy’, and this new word is there in my modern English Oxford Dictionary. 

Even if we don’t understand the meaning behind the Greek construction of the word we can all realise that its meaning is the opposite of the word ‘Catastrophe’. Tolkein wrote in his book ‘Tree and Leaf’ that “the Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the “inner consistency of reality.” There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath”. 

Wise words indeed! Mother Theresa who with her Sisters of Charity Order in Calcutta rescued more than 36,000 people from the streets of Calcutta over a twenty five year period. Even amidst all the sorrow and grief she had an amazingly positive view of life because of Jesus and his resurrection, she said “Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.” Jesus along with his Death and Resurrection will eventually change everything. In the meantime let Him and the life he offers us start and continue to change you. For Christ is Risen, he is Risen indeed! Happy Easter.