From the feast of All Saints on 1st November to the feast of Christ the King on Sunday 20th November is Kingdom Season, the last hurrah of the year before we begin all over again with Advent, and waiting patiently for the coming of Christ once more, as a tiny vulnerable child, at Christmas.
This is the season when we celebrate the kingship of Christ over all Creation, the time when we anticipate the time when God will be shown to be fully in charge, when all that is evil will be defeated, and the world will be renewed and remade.
It’s a time of “now and not-yet”, when our faith allows us to look forward to what will be, even as we remain mired in “what is” – and admittedly “what is” is often mucky, painful, and unpleasant.
These past weeks in my ministry have been focussed on death and resurrection. I’m currently on funeral number eight, and counting. Death has been my daily companion, and the feasts of All Saints and All Souls have helped give perspective to that.
For these feasts help us to see Death for what it now is. Thanks to the death of Christ upon the Cross, Death is no longer the end of the line, a final brick wall, beyond which we cannot go. A void which sucks us in, and from which there is no exit.
Because of Jesus’ death on the Cross, Death is made into a portal, a gateway, through which we pass, into the sunlit uplands beyond, into the very presence of God. The veil that is our humanity is laid aside, and we truly see, and are seen, for the first time.
Jesus is clear that this is the case. In his conversation with the Sadducees, he points out that Moses himself revealed this truth, when he spoke of his conversation with God, who said “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Not “I was.” But “I am.” The implication is that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still living, and are in the presence of God, and they have an ongoing relationship despite being, in our terms, “dead”.
The Sadducees have tried to trap Jesus with a cunning question – with ( for those Blackadder fans among you) about the subtlety and craft of Baldrick. And Jesus sidesteps it with ease, demonstrating with absolute clarity just how much they’ve missed the point.
Our very human limitation means that we can’t really imagine things utterly beyond our experience. Until the recent developments in quantum theory, we couldn’t understand that we’re actually not solid at all, but the molecules are packed so densely that we, and (for example) our chairs, appear to be solid, when in fact they are in perpetual motion. If we followed this theory, suddenly Jesus’ ability after the Resurrection to walk through locked doors or through walls, to appear and disappear at will, becomes almost completely obvious and logical!
“There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy” as Shakespeare famously said in Hamlet. Whilst our imagination and wild flights of fancy must ALWAYS be tempered with reason and intelligence, it is also true that God is bigger than our imagination. So let us imagine what joy awaits us on the other side of the gateway that is Death, let us not fear it, and let us see it, and everything else in this world, through the lens of God’s love.