Easter should be a sacred time for followers of Jesus. No doubt about it what so ever. Too often though, as with Christmas, I have often struggled to find those genuine sacred moments amid an increasingly commercial emphasis.
This past Easter was different though, in a bit of an unexpected way. Just 25 miles up the road from Swansea, where we live, is the community of Bridgend. Bridgend has hit the headlines in recent weeks for all the wrong reasons. A seemingly in explicable high number of teen suicides over recent months have brought damming headlines such as ‘suicide city’ which have hardly been helpful in a place that is trying to cope with immense tragedy.
On Good Friday as God’s Squad members in South Wales, we hosted a memorial run (ride) to Zac’s Place for a memorial service to remember biking mates in the area that we have collectively lost. About 70 turned up from a numerous local clubs to share in some moments of quiet reflection and remembrance. Hospitality was shared and many of our guests appreciated the artworks on display too. But, here’s the twist, as an additional act, the ride then continued to Bridgend; To a popular kids hangout and near the site of the skate park in the town centre. The purpose was simply to provide a symbolic symbol of solidarity with a community of people that is hurting. As many of our biking mates rode in memory of lost loved ones, they also remembered others, as we placed a brightly coloured wreath and personal notes signed by many of the run participants. Many taking part have their own kids - many of them teenagers. This was closer to home than we thought.
It was a precious moment - many of our mates wouldn’t necessarily share our faith, the sight of all of us riding up the M4 doesn’t initially seem like a sacred act in progress! But it was, somehow it just was. There was a connection going on between people and with God; questions and human frailty were all reference points. Friday was indeed Good.
Sunday, resurrection day, was equally moving. A three hundred mile, last minute, round trip to Reading to visit a friend in the very late stages of cancer. Of all days, the day we celebrate an empty tomb, I struggle to find words of hope and comfort but I do my best. I take his hand and kiss his forehead, praying that God’s peace would be real amid the turmoil. As I walk from the ward and look over my shoulder, he raises a cup of medication, as if to say ‘cheers’........
........I got home that night and kissed each of the four children as they slept and was grateful to have a wife that I love and a God that understands such mystery when my answers have long since dried up.
Tues, 25 March, 2008