'How frail a man is, how few his days, how full of trouble...if a man dies shall he live again? This thought gives me hope, so that in all my anguish I eagerly await sweet death'. (Job 14:1&14)

 

The words of Job in the set readings for today are as solemn as they can be. Chapter 14:1-14 is a lament, a dirge and yet it is not without hope.

As I write this I hear the figures for yesterday that a little under one thousand people died of Covid19 in our country. Job's words do not fall on deaf ears. This awful disease is no respecter of age, or colour, or race, of social standing, rich or poor. It does not discriminate, it just behaves like an efficient virus. It exploits our frailties and fills us with trouble.

It is perhaps as we realise our frailties and the fact there is as yet no remedy for this disease, that something admirable in the human condition is seen. I turned-out in my street yesterday evening, with many others, to whoop and applaud our NHS workers and all those doing fine frontline service. An ambulance pulled up outside of one of my neighbours' house. The crew were all wearing protective garb and they acknowledged the applause before calmly getting on with their work. My heart was strangely warmed!

Job's analysis of his situation is antecedent to the death and resurrection of Christ, but it does at least hint toward it and offers a muted prophetic insight. We however, are the community of the resurrection and know that death is only part of the story. Christ dies. He is removed from the cross and placed in the tomb. He is dead. For the Jewish authorities there is apparent victory. For the disciples perhaps utter despair; for Judas an untimely death. There is a sense in which a pall of gloom, desperation hangs in the air and everything has a provisionality about it. How will things turn out, what will happen?

I write this on Good Friday. Christ's death is very real. The fact that God in the person of Christ enters into our lot; knows death and separation, tears and abandonment is astounding. It is love, love divine all loves unknowing - ah yes. It is encapsulated in the words of the Easter hymn:

 'When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
Then your touch can call us back to life again.
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been.
H&P 204:4

In these desperately sad times, when life is very strange and has a sense of provisionality about it once again, we need to know the desolation of Good Friday and the reality of the tomb. Nevertheless, this is tempered by what we know is to come and the joyful acclamation 'Christ is Risen!'

Every blessing,

Simon.

Revd Simon H Leigh. Superintendent minister: Plymouth and Devonport Circuit.