He is not here

As I sit in a hospital bed I chew on this phrase that the angels told Mary. 

I think many of us Christians hurry to the bit where Jesus makes his appearance.

But first you ask, what are you doing on a hospital bed? Well, it shall be revealed in due course.

The one thing all the gospels agree on is Jesus’ absence from the tomb. It’s that note of unison before they diverge into their parts. Instead of hurrying on to the next bit it’s worth reflecting on the absence. (Lot of good and clever folk have said lots about God’s absence so maybe this is all old hat.)

Jesus says earlier that he has to leave. He promises an absence. He has to leave so that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit can be with us. The Holy Spirit is breath. Breath is an absence of a kind. It is the absence before sound. It is the absence before speech. The absence before the Word. 

So in the absence Jesus is always arriving. Over Lent I have felt Jesus’ absence like never before. Is he arriving? Is that him in the distance? Or is he behind me? Or above? I don’t know. All I know is that first absence turned a bunch of scared poor folk into something far beyond themselves.

So why am I on a hospital bed this Easter? Just practising my absence with my family. No seriously, I had some palpitations which needed monitoring. A good reminder of my mortality. And God’s.

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