April 24th

I couldn’t help but see the irony of the situation. While we were marking Maundy Thursday, the Jews were beginning their traditional celebrations of the Passover. Except, of course, they weren’t. As with much else, their celebrations had to be curtailed because of the Covid-19 epidemic. Back in the time of Moses they had done what God had commanded and that plague had passed them by. Not so this time!

Mind you, there were some Christians who did expect God would protect them from the virus, just as he had protected the Jews all those years ago. In Moscow crowds were going into one of the churches. Challenged by a reporter, one woman almost laughed at her and explained that there was no way the virus would enter a church. Around the same time in America the same thing was happening and there someone pointed out that she was “washed in the blood of Christ” and was therefore immune to the virus! Sorry, folks, it doesn’t work like that.

Last Saturday in The Times, Canon Alison Joyce commented:

“It surprises me when people regard the Christian faith as a kind of celestial insurance policy against bad things happening to you.”

One of the Lectionary readings for today is the story of the raising from the dead of Lazarus, as recounted by John. A miracle – yes, but more significantly a sign of what was even more dramatically demonstrated by the Resurrection – Christ’s victory over death. That is what Christ offers, not immunity from disease and death, but eternal life in him.

David Roberts