Just back from church and hunting of Easter eggs in the garden. Here in Belgium, the church bells all go off to visit the Holy Land on Good Friday and return for Easter, bringing the Easter eggs with them. However bunnification has hit most of the chocolate eggs on sale here, I’m sorry to say.

Three years ago I myself was in the Holy Land for Pentecost. I was completely fascinated though also somewhat appalled by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It covers under one roof the traditional sites of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, ie a hilltop and a quarry, so there’s a huge vertical range – you go in the (only) door, and there’s a sort of gallery way up to the right where you can feel (but not see) the holes into which the three crosses were put, and then way way down to the left is the grand domed chamber in the middle of which is the Aediculum enclosing what’s left of the tomb. Then way down again underneath the entrance is the chapel of the Invention where the emperor Constantine’s mother happened to discover the True Cross, almost three centuries on.

I doubt very much that she found anything of the kind, let alone that three carefully chosen pot-holes in the cliff face happened to be the very same three holes used for a routine execution. But having read up on the evidence, it does seem to me likely that this is the site that was traditionally associated with the tomb from quite an early stage. The extraordinary thing is that a shrine which ought by rights to be the pulsing vibrant centre of Christianity is no such thing; it’s not that it’s too big – St Peter’s is bigger, and has the right sort of aura – but that the space is not harmonised; the six squabbling sects who are perpetually renegotiating the territory within the church have been unable to create a space for reflection. Symptomatic is the ladder visible outside one of the windows which has been there since the Crimean War, as nobody can agree who has the right to move it.

Personally I felt much closer to the roots of my faith this morning, standing with my hands linked to the rest of the congregation, chanting the Lord’s Prayer in Flemish, musing on the symbolism of canles, light, water, darkness. And eggs of course. Must go and cook lunch.

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1 Response to Easter

  1. coth says:

    Despite an ‘A’ level in Economics and Politics taught by an active politician (Methodist College, Belfast) I’ve never been inside Stormont. But I’ve stood outside the gates looking up the drive.

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