Benefice of Bethersden with High Halden and Woodchurch

Know God, Show His Love, Spread His Word


Seven Stanzas at Easter


This is the title of a poem by John Updike, written in the last century, which expresses much of what I feel about the resurrection. If the resurrection happened then it changed the course of human history – there is no half measure. We cannot half respond to it.

Make no mistake
if he rose at all
it was as his body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, 
     the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as his Spirit in the mouths and
     fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles;

it was his flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that -  pierced – died, withered, decayed, and then

     regathered out of his Father’s might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
     faded credulity of earlier ages;
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but a vast rock of materiality that in the slow
     grinding of time will eclipse each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
     opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
     embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

The resurrection was so extraordinary that Jesus appeared over the next six weeks to his disciples to help them get their heads round it before ascending to heaven.  Likewise the church marks the Easter season for six weeks.

Happy Easter, Christ is Risen,