Our different reactions
We are all experiencing loss in these strange, disorientating times. We are certainly united in that, but we all react differently when we’re grieving.
Reverend Susan Blagden’s reflection this morning takes, as its inspiration, the painting below by Tom Bower (originally commissioned by the Bishop Of Oxford: Right Reverend Steven Croft) as a visual interpretation of one of the key stories for Passion Sunday just past, and what the church calls ‘Passiontide’ that follows.
Why not read the full story here, then look at the painting. In it we can see that the world of Mary and Martha has been shattered and split following the death of their beloved brother, Lazarus. That is what grief does and what it very often feels like.
Dwedodd Iesu wrthi, “Fi ydy’r atgyfodiad a’r bywyd… Wyt ti’n credu hyn?”
Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe this?’
We see that each of the sisters is reacting differently to the death of Lazarus. The arms of Jesus tell different stories: Mary is facing away from the tomb and Jesus’ arm appears to be comforting her, whilst Martha appears to almost being restrained, and calmed down by Jesus. There is no judgement in Jesus’ actions. He knows that each of us responds to grief differently.
What matters is that we allow each other to grieve in a way that is helpful, and that we keep connection with each other and with Jesus. Mary and Martha did not understand why Jesus had not appeared sooner and prevented this tragedy. They were probably feeling hurt and confused. Yet they lived with the questions whilst also letting Jesus come alongside them in their grief.
This is a threshold moment. Neither Mary nor Martha knew what would happen next. Jesus was present. Jesus shared their tears. We may recognise not dissimilar feelings as we, and those we love, grapple with the reality of the coronavirus. We may wonder why God has not sorted this sooner! Rarely do we get answers to those ‘why’ questions, but it is important to live with them, whilst also coming to see that God is with us in our distress. What happens next is unknown.
In all our bewilderment, and different ways of dealing with these things, we can unite in hearing God’s words to us this day:-
Jesus says: I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?
Bydded I Dduw Dad,
Y cyflwynodd ein Harglwydd ei ysbryd i’w ddwylo
Roddi i chai ras i ymddiried enddo men bywyd a marwolaeth. Amen.
May God the Father,
Into whose hands our Lord committed his spirit,
Give you grace to trust him in life and death. Amen.