Grey, cloud filled skies. A few lonely souls sitting under raincoats on wind driven beaches eating paste sandwiches liberally sprinkled with sand whipped down the prom.
An accurate description of a British Bank Holiday? Well, I may have stretched it a bit but I can assure you that one year, at Hunstanton, it snowed. In May. On another occasion at Great Yarmouth it rained so heavily that the coach party (of which I was not one), stayed on the ‘bus all day leaving only to run to a nearby Café for lunch.
We expect our bank holiday weather to be like this even when we hope that it won’t be. Since we want to make the most of the day – something ingrained in our British way of life since it was first passed by Act of Parliament in the 1870’s – we will get out and get on with it, whatever the weather. Hence the windbreak and sand dune sandwiches.
There’s lots of things to look forward to but so many of them are cancelled or curtailed owing to our current circumstances. Celebrations are on hold or pass us by; concert and flower show tickets are worthless ad holiday plans in abeyance. Along with all this, there’s real irony that we’re experiencing the warmest and driest spring for many years and yet we are confined indoors for much of the time, even on a blissfully sunny and warm Easter weekend. An exceptional Bank Holiday weekend for us all, in every sense of the words.
Something I read a few days ago brought a new perspective to the dashed expectations of 2020. Faced by greenhouses full of specialist plants with nowhere to “show” them, nurseries are selling their flowers, shrubs, bulbs and trees online. You and I can own a little bit of Chelsea, Hampton Court, Kew, Malvern and the rest … well, I think you know what I mean!
When things don’t work out as we planned – or, where they don’t even start in the first place – it can be very demoralising. We’ve looked forward eagerly but our hopes are dashed and we are back to daily round of life with nothing special to look forward to. Same old, same old.
I was struck by this perspective when I was reading the Easter story this weekend; what did those involved in the events of Jesus death really expect to happen? WE know that the women saw the body put into the tomb: they expected to return after the Sabbath to finish the preparation of the body.
The guards were stationed around the tomb: it was another job to them, perhaps one less onerous than the usual round of duties. The priests expected it to be the end: the disciples feared that it would be the end.
Easter and the resurrection confounds every human expectation. What can’t happen, has happened; sin and death need not be the full stops we believe them to be. In rising from the dead, Jesus made a visible statement about God’s intentions to rescue sinful humanity. This wasn’t a ghost nor was it wishful thinking: He really had died and was now alive again, raised from the dead. The status or social provision of the observers had not changed but their outlook and future had.
We will probably not be able to do all the things we planned to do in this summer of 2020. There will be other events and opportunities which, although they might not take the place of those things we’ve lost, will bring joys of their own. Perhaps the greatest joy (or rather the most profound reassurance) can be found in the words of Jesus following the resurrection.
Peace be with you (Luke 24:36)
I am with you always (Matthew 28:20)
We can expect God to be with us, whether we’re at home or at work, resting or exercising. He’ll be with us too as we look to rebuild our common life – I pray that all we do will reflect the joy and power of Jesus’ own resurrection.