On Good Friday at St Martin-in-the-Fields I spoke about Christ’s forsakenness on the cross using, as an equivalent for that experience, a book ‘Blackpentecostal Breath’ written by the academic and artist Ashon T. Crawley as a love letter to his people; African Americans with a history of enslavement and therefore of having been treated by others as objects to be bought, sold, abused and killed, rather than valued as people.
Crawley writes: ‘Having been said to be nothing, this is a love letter written to we who have been, and are today still, said to have nothing. And to a tradition of such nothingness.’
However, Crawley continues by writing of ‘a love letter to a tradition of the ever overflowing, excessive nothingness that protects itself, that with the breaking of families, of flesh, makes known and felt, the refusal of being destroyed.’ He then says that, ‘There is something in such nothingness that is not, but still ever excessively was, is and is yet to come.’
I ended my Good Friday reflection with the thought that, in the words of Al Barrett and Ruth Harley, ‘There is something that endures. Something that defies despair, and the dispersal orders of the powerful. Something that gives hope … that we have barely been able to imagine … Something that goes by the name of resurrection’ (‘Being Interrupted’).
In the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘There lives the dearest freshness deep down things’ which ‘will flame out, like shining from shook foil’ (‘God’s Grandeur’).
As we emerge from our latest lockdown – uncertain of the future, not knowing what the pandemic will bring next, yet needing and searching for hope – this is the understanding of resurrection we need in this moment. The dearest freshness deep down things that suddenly flames out, something in nothingness that still ever excessively was, is and is yet to come, something we have barely been able to imagine that goes by the name of resurrection.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!