Bishop Kevin’s Easter Message 2024

Dear Friends,

How does the Cross of pain become the Cross of joy?

The cross consists of three pieces, by tradition. The standard piece, looking at the cross as an individual, I identify as Guilt. The crossbar which allowed Jesus to carry the cross and is the weight of the cross, that piece I identify as Regret. The two pieces are held together by the nails or tied together with the secure rope or Fear.

Guilt, the overwhelming sense of having done wrong. This is so often encapsulated in simple statements: “If only I hadn’t done… been… seen… said…”.

Regret, the “what might have been if only”. If only I had been taller, thinner, more confident, more adventurous, more astute.

Fear, the fear of being found out, the fear of loneliness, the fear of not being worth very much, and the greatest fear – “Who cares anyway?”.

There is, indeed, the cross of pain which Jesus carried to show that God understands such feelings. When on Palm Sunday we hear in the epistle the exhortation “let the same mind be in you as was in Christ Jesus”, there we see the depth of understanding of what it is to be human, what it is to be made in the image of God. Jesus in Gethsemane with friends who were a disappointment, wrestling with his own questions and doubts. There is the depth of understanding that allows us to enter into the very soul of God. The soul, that place where that what I think meets what I feel meets what I most yearn for. Even, especially, carrying the cross of pain.

In all the stories of the resurrection Jesus is depicted and described as having all the marks of pain, crucifixion and death on his body. There is no attempt to disguise the physical suffering or mental anguish of the Passion narrative. In fact they are highlighted, literally: Jesus appears having left the tomb and bathed in light and full of new life, new love – resurrection.

Thus, the cross of pain in resurrection light has meaning and purpose, it becomes life-giving.

Guilt, that standard of pain becomes trust. Trust in God who forgives. Trust in God who is love. Love that is of such depth that we cannot quite comprehend that God always has our best interests at heart. What we think of love goes beyond doubt and questions but makes sense of both. What we feel of love – affection, warmth,

understanding, acceptance – these feelings show us something of God, make sense to the soul. The soul, where what I most yearn for – to be loved and to love – there the Holy Spirit leads to discern love that is most fulfilling, so that I may grow into being more like the person God shows in Jesus I can be.

Regret then ceases to weigh down the soul and the spirit. Confidence that these things and regrets cannot hold us forever, confidence that God is with us, confidence in love that helps us make sense of who and what we are. Confidence given by Jesus carrying the cross, confidence that God gives us as many second chances as we need. Confidence that the Holy Spirit is present in our desire to be better people who can show God’s love and understanding, acceptance and affection.

Trust in God’s confidence through Jesus bring real Hope and Joy, the hallmarks of the Holy Spirit.

Hope is not simply optimism that all will be well. Hope in the resurrection of Jesus brings real Joy. When as Christians we speak of Joy, we speak of the cross, of the pain, of guilt, regret and fear. We cannot deny these facets of being human, but Jesus’ resurrection proves that we may look at those facets of our lives we would rather be without and see guilt from the different angle of Trust in God. Regret is seen as painless when we recognise all that we become in our Lord Jesus Christ and so confidence emerges from being made in the image of God. Trust and confidence bring hope that out of the mess of human experience we can encounter God in many ways, through people whom we may see in a new light, resurrection light revealing, showing, the Holy Spirit of discernment in our souls and in our world. Our world which knows the cross of pain, but in which we may play our part to show God trusts all his people made in God’s image. Confidence that our Lord Jesus Christ shows all we might be and hope that we may discern in all our lives and situations the Holy Spirit of God’s love and discernment in seeking new ways, new light of understanding and acceptance.

The Lord is risen from the dead. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

May the joy and hope of Easter be yours this day and always.

+ Kevin

Glasgow and Galloway

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