A few years ago I had the privilege of leading a school pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We visited Jordan, Palestine and Israel, with land crossings between those countries. Of course, these transits were not pleasant experiences: long delays, arrogant officials, humiliating baggage, personal inspections, and exhaustive interrogations. But all of this was what we expected, and part of the joys of travel. What we did not expect, however, was a far worse experience in the church where the death and resurrection of Jesus, the whole Easter drama, is remembered.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been standing on the reputed site of Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus since the days of King Constantine (4th Century CE) and is a vast, gloomy, shabby conglomeration of churches and chapels, uneasily shared by several Christian denominations. It is usually very hard to get inside it because of the huge numbers of tourists who go there, but one night while we were in Jerusalem, I heard at the hostel where we were staying that the church would be open all night for visitors. So I gathered a group of students and staff together at 1.30am, and we walked through the empty streets of the old city to have a look around without having to fight our way in. There were very few people in the building at that time, but a liturgy was in process outside the monument which contains what is revered as the actual tomb from which Jesus rose. Elaborately robed clergy chanted in an ancient language, and the scene was made even more surreal by the clouds of smoke coming from candles and incense. We stood reverently and watched for a while, until one of the robed officials (A priest? A bishop? A caretaker? We were not sure) strode over to us and demanded in a loud and peremptory manner that we go away. “Catholics come back in daytime!” He ordered.
We left and sat on the steps outside in the coolness of the night. One of our party, a young man who was on the very edge of the ‘church’ said to me. “Well, that’s it, if that’s Christianity, I want nothing more to do with it, ever again.”
Sadly, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not the recommended place to encounter the living Christ today. Disputes between the various denominations who use it have over the years occasionally come to physical violence, and the Israeli Army has been called in to restore order between fighting priests and monks.
However, reflecting on that experience, it illustrates for us the whole point of Easter. Jesus did not come to save a perfect world, but an imperfect one. He came to show us that forgiveness is available to us through his death, and an abundant and eternal life through his resurrection. The fact that the very place where these events are remembered is a place of dispute and sectarianism illustrates the whole Easter drama so well. We are all in need – even the most ‘holy’ of us – of the presence of the Risen Christ in our lives; hopefully that presence can restore, refresh and revitalise our world.
A verse from a well-loved Good Friday hymn puts it:
O dearly, dearly has he loved
and we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.
Wishing you all a blessed and wonderful Easter season.
Rev Tony Murray-Feist
WHOLE SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPH 2018 - DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO OWN A PIECE OF ALL SAINTS’ COLLEGE HISTORY!
The first All Saints’ College Whole School photograph was taken in 1993 when there were just 850 students from Years 1 to 12. This tradition has continued every five years since, with the College capturing a photographic record of the entire College population for posterity.
Next term, the 1 450+ staff and students from Pre-K to Year 12 will have their picture taken at the College to create our sixth Whole School photograph. These photos are taken individually during our upcoming photo days and produced into a composite image of everybody.
A limited run of just 250 Whole School photographs is being produced. To ensure you secure a copy, please take advantage of our pre-order service by selecting one of two options below by 30, April 2018.
1 – The cost of the photograph ($59.95) is added to your child’s school fees (no immediate payment necessary)
2 – Paying now by credit card - $62.95 (inclusive of Trybooking fees)
(When selecting either option, you will be asked to list the name of your eldest child at the school. This allows us to readily track and place your order).
Your image will be delivered to the College as a rolled poster, laminated and printed both sides with the photograph on the front and names on the back, inside a cardboard tube.
All orders will be delivered to the College early in Term 3 and available for collection from Senior School Reception.
Click HERE to pre-order.