I am listening to my favourite piece of music as I write this. It is the first classical recording I ever purchased, at the record store in the Manning Building at Sydney University. Apart from the beauty of the piece, it raises the memory of when I first heard – and saw – it.
I had just been to a movie, Children of a Lesser God, where a teacher of students, who are hearing impaired, is asked to show what a piece of music “looks like” when someone is unable to hear the sounds. And so, I fell in love with the Second Movement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D Minor, and Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb moved into second place.
We are invited, as disciples, to bear witness to the gospel which has changed our lives. What does that look, and sound, like? Our word “martyr” is a direct descendant of the Greek word which means to bear witness, to testify. We bear witness not just with our words, but with our bodies, our very lives.
Easter is when God bears witness to us. It is when Jesus Christ, in his very life, testifies to all that God is, in mercy, and suffering, and hope. And love.
We are inheritors of a story where the God of all creation, and all of history, becomes as one with us, suffers and dies. We wait, in silence, and are astonished when Christ’s resurrection proclaims God’s intention to save creation and all within.
So, when we are asked to show what this symphony looks like, to those whose hearing is impaired by all the other demands and voices and fears and sounds of our raucous world, what shall we do?
How shall we bear witness to this Christ, with more than our words, or with actions that confirm our words?
Some of us persist with the false dichotomy, being either “evangelists” or advocates of “social justice”. This conversation is a waste of God’s mission and a waste of our time. When Jesus healed people, they received their lives back socially and physically. When Jesus offered forgiveness, it was restorative of life and community.
I was asked recently why our Uniting Church is so engaged – and progressive – regarding concerns in our community. I responded that our faith in Jesus places us squarely in the marketplace of our world.
Our faith in Jesus has us kneeling beside those whose lives seem beyond repair. Our faith in Christ crucified would have us nowhere else, and whether the brokenness comes from our own hands, or the hand of another, that is where we belong.
Easter is why we feed those who are hungry for bread and justice and forgiveness; that is why we advocate for refugees, chained by politics here and overseas; that is why we agitate about fair treatment for those trapped in the prison of addiction; that is why we offer a voice for our planet, particularly to those leaders who ears are stoppered.
And we are not there only because Christ is crucified. We are there because Christ is raised. The hope of Christ’s resurrection proclaims our belief that forgiveness for sins is real. We believe that chains can be broken, and prisoners released; we declare that our ears can be opened, as well as our hearts.
Easter is why we worship, in voices and languages and music which reflect the world in which we live, the hospitality we offer and the God whom we serve. We worship and witness and serve, imitating the crucified and risen One, with the Spirit’s inspiration, to the glory of God.
Rev. Simon Hansford