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29 October 2014

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You are in: Norfolk > Faith > Norfolk thoughts on the Passion

Jesus (Joseph Mawle) prepares for Passover meal

Jesus preparing for the Passover meal

Norfolk thoughts on the Passion

The Passion is an epic new drama from the BBC for Easter 2008, but what does the Passion mean to members of the clergy in Norfolk? They've been sharing their thoughts on this important time in the Christian calendar.

The Passion is the story which takes us from Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem to his betrayal, trial and his eventual execution by crucifixion.

For Christians it's what happens next that changes the world then and now.

Members of the county's clergy and congregation share their thoughts on the Passion with BBC Norfolk and its relevance today:

Philip North - Priest administrator of the Shrine Of Our Lady, Walsingham

'Why does God let people suffer?' That question is always a hard one to tackle, but on this occasion it was even more difficult than usual.

Philip North

Philip North

It was put to me by a boy called Ryan, on the surface a typical 11-year-old with bright eyes and a cheeky grin. But Ryan has Cystic Fibrosis and so very few people expect him to make his 18th birthday.

He could have asked the question much more poignantly. 'Why is God letting me suffer?'

The only possible answer is to point to a man hanging on a cross, for as Jesus suffers the pain of spear and nails, so he takes on his shoulders Ryan's suffering and all human suffering.

If you really love someone, it's not enough just to show kindness to them in their pain. You want to suffer alongside them, to take some of their pain away from them by bearing it yourself.

That's just what Jesus does as he gives his life for us on the Hill of Calvary. He joins us in suffering. There is now no human experience that God has not shared in Jesus. God has even endured our death because he loves us so much.

But we can go even further.

Because in Jesus God has suffered and died, so human suffering and death has been taken up into the life of God. God has suffered. God has died. And so the whole meaning of suffering and dying has been changed.

These things have been transformed by God because his love has been shown to be unconquerably strong. Death and pain will never triumph. Because of the passion of Christ, human life has been set free and called to glory.

It was some years ago that I had my conversation with Ryan. It may be that by now he has died. But there's one thing for sure - whatever may have happened to him, he’s safe in the arms of the God who loves him so much that in Jesus he has died for him.

Louise Priest, Presenter - BBC Radio Norfolk

Its very easy, especially with doubting teenagers in the house, to think of Easter, simply as a day for chocolate eggs and a sumptuous roast. However despite this working against me, I cannot let the occasion go by (even if I don't have time to go to church due to work) without thinking of its significance.

I always feel very sad on Good Friday, remembering the suffering of Jesus - the people who doubted Him, contributed to His downfall. I wonder what reception He would get today?

Sadly, I am realistic enough to know there will always be one person who doubts Him.

It is always important to remember the suffering, but equally important to remember that God raised Jesus from the dead. His resurrection, in short, to save people like us, can only be marveled at and celebrated.

The story of Mary on Easter Sunday going to the tomb where the body of  Jesus had been taken, to find only the neatly folded clothes of her Son and later being told by 'the gardener' that Jesus had gone to be with his Father, is one I look forward to each year, for it offers hope to each and every one of us. 

Rev Rosemary Wakelin

God's radical answer to the estrangement caused by the radical nature of human sin is The Passion.

Revd Rosemary Wakelin

Revd Rosemary Wakelin

The story of the Passion is at the heart of the Christian Faith and is what distinguishes it from other religions for it can be perceived as weakness and folly. However to the Christian it is the place where at last the mystery of the nature of God is revealed.

Down the ages the Author of Creation has been perceived and powerful. The narrative of the Bible moves from an understanding of this power as absolute and arbitrary, to having limits - that is God's power is Love, he can only be Love and he cannot be what he is not.

For Christians, in the life of Jesus, we see as it were God 'jumping in' to the mess we make, and taking responsibility. Jesus shows how the Power of Love confronts the love of power, which motivates human behaviour, and takes Love to its logical conclusion.

The Passion is the paradox of ultimate power expressed in apparent weakness and vulnerability. In his Passion we see Jesus pursuing his chosen path, rejecting the usual human pathways to power and control and accpeting the role of victim.

He lays himself open to the combined forces of religious, political and military might, with the malice of every petty bully thrown in, and his love is not diminished. This is the victory of Love which God affirms on Easter Day.

The Gospel says that the Temple curtain, that separated the people from the presence of God, was torn from top to bottom as Jesus died. The yearning, suffering passionate Love at the heart of God was revealed in that naked body strung up on the cross.

In the light of the Resurrection we can look into the heart of this mystery and make our choice, whether or not to share with him in the Kingdom-task of making Love work.

The Passion - A poem by Nick Vesey

He held life and death the same.
One was the other’s side.
Neither was favoured,
He did not choose,
But allowed that eternal love to move him
With a passion that was actively passive.

Nicholas Vesey

Nicholas Vesey

We care about our lives; he said not to care.
We care about our deaths; he said let death come.
Because unless you die
You will not be re-born.
Unless you fall to the ground and wither
You will not stand mighty, like the oak.
For the wind blows where it will,
It takes your life whether you will it or not.

He gave up nothing so that we may have everything.
We are to embrace both life and death
So that others may see the truth of a life lived in love.
The Passion of the Christ is the passion in us all.
It is the life force of God.
It is God living through us:
Giving and taking.

So live with your hearts open,
And welcome death when he comes.

last updated: 07/03/2008 at 19:37
created: 06/03/2008

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