By Canon Chris Palmer
On the day I’m writing this, news reports are full of bad news: war in Ukraine, terror attacks, illness, a landslide, high profile court action. You’d be forgiven for believing that the only events of any significance are confrontation, suffering, natural disaster, and death. And we are tempted to despair of the world or defensively imitate the harmful behaviours we witness.
But Christians dare to announce Sunday by Sunday that the truest and most important news of all is Good News. That’s what ‘Gospel’ means. We announce the good news each time we read the stories of Jesus from scripture, we preach the good news of Jesus who shares and transforms our lives, and we seek to live the good news in our daily lives through serving others with joy.
And the good news we proclaim is founded in our Easter proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus, the amazing, joyous wonder that death is defeated and God invites us into life. The resurrection of Jesus is not simply the story of one man; it is God’s act of freeing and remaking the entire universe – and us in with the bargain:
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
God’s invitation to the church is to be the community of new life, of renewal, and of hope for the world. If we are to imitate anything, it is God’s good news in Jesus that must be our pattern. The American poet Wendell Berry invites us to be a people who ‘practice [sic] resurrection’:
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it…
Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.
– from the poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”, by Wendell Berry
Image from Brown’s Self-interpreting Family Bible in the Cathedral Library.