Weekly Reflection: To Easter & Beyond
1 April 2021
Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.
Imagine a seventeenth century alchemist drying (‘calcining’) a very ordinary substance to a desiccated powder in the hope of transforming it to gold. This is the image that George Herbert uses in his poem ‘Easter’: the dust to which our mortal bodies must return is radically transformed by the new life into which Jesus rose on the first Easter morning. In keeping with the image drawn from alchemy, Herbert first describes this new life as being like a transformation into gold, the most precious substance known to humans (and the goal of all alchemists). But Herbert immediately shifts the focus of the reader. The new life of Christ’s resurrection offers something infinitely more precious than gold: it offers us the opportunity to be ‘just’; that is, to be put right with God, to have our lives fully aligned with God’s loving purposes for us.
As we begin the slow process of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and continue to stand alongside those whose lives have been affected in so many ways, we give thanks for the Easter faith that first inspired Herbert’s poem - the same faith that we continue to celebrate four hundred years later. The helplessness of Good Friday and the emptiness of Holy Saturday are put behind us as we greet the risen Jesus, who takes us by the hand and walks with us into the resurrection life of God’s eternal Eastertide.
With Easter blessings to you all,