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The resurrection – embracing the unexpected

EarlyMorningCrossRev Suzanne Cooke considers how we should respond to the events of that first Easter which shattered the normal pattern of continuous change.

I’ve come across a new term this week – ‘discontinuous change’.  It’s a term I’ve not heard before, and I’ve decided it’s going to be my Easter rallying cry!
So what does it mean?  Well, rather than continuous change, which develops out of what has gone before and is therefore more ordered and more predictable, discontinuous change is far more disruptive and unanticipated; it challenges what we might have thought and taken for granted.  It is said that we are at present in a time of discontinuous change, which is something that requires us to think and work differently – something that, if we feel confident and settled in our faith, might come as a bit of a shock.
The thing about this idea of discontinuous change is that its somewhat unexpected nature requires us to respond in similarly unexpected ways.  Even more so because our situation is so radically different than it was in years gone by - we find ourselves in a very different place than we might have done some 30 or 40 years ago.  Even if we feel our congregations to be strong in faith, witness and fellowship (which I know is how I feel about mine!) we cannot escape the fact that our resources are at the very least stretched.   But as this is a relatively new situation (ie within living memory!) there can be a temptation to sit in our pews and convince ourselves that as the church has stood for the last 1000 years so will it continue to stand for a 1000 more.
As a community we speak a lot about the need for new approaches to mission and ministry, but for many being prepared to respond to our unexpected times in unexpected ways is challenging at best, and down-right horrifying at worst. It’s OK talking about the changes in society and for the need to reinvigorate our churches but being prepared to change ourselves, the way we worship, the way we approach our faith, presents a far greater challenge. 
So what of this Easter connection?  In my mind I have a picture - a picture of the women that Jesus loved so very much - the women closest to him and to his ministry.  I have a picture of them making their solemn pilgrimage to his tomb that first Easter morning.  It’s fair to say that their lives had just been beset with ‘discontinuous change’ - in fact their lives had just fallen apart.   And in that briefest of moments their desolation was transformed into emotions, frankly, that we can only guess at. 
The whole of Jesus’ ministry was one that embraced the unexpected and as the disciples faced the implications of what happened that Easter morning – I wonder if they felt prepared for what lay ahead – I imagine not!  Not quite prepared, despite being part of all that Jesus had said and done. 
It is right that we draw strength and confidence from the stories and traditions that have built our church, but in these times of radical change we, just like those first Christians, must be ready to respond with courage and creativity despite the temptation to do just the opposite.
For some I know, I am preaching to the converted, others maybe not so much, but certainly what is required of us all today is to work together, support each other, in finding ways to do the very thing that is at the heart of the Easter message – that is to bring life everlasting, in all its glorious abundance, to the whole of our beautiful creation.


Suzanne CookeRev Suzanne Cooke is the priest-in-charge of the Upper Tas Benefice in South Norfolk and the founder of Soul Circus, a regular creative, experimental service supported by the Diocese of Norwich and the Youth Task Force.  You can find out more at www.soulcircus.org.uk

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