The Cross-Resurrection Event

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb,
in which no one had ever been laid.   
John 19:41 (NIV)
Serving with international and Zambian staff at Chikankata, and twelve Easters become a merged memory.

Holy Week meditations in the hospital chapel might have included foot-washing or an agape love-feast, but always concluding with prayer in our back garden looking out onto the little hill across the stream - Kalvali. In later years it would host the enactment of the crucifixion, Oberammergau-style.

That same garden would be where we would gather for a Saturday evening party, one year feasting on lamb, the gift of a grateful local farmer.

But that was not before we had gathered for the Good-Friday meditation on the cross in the chapel or school hall. A floral arrangement would include a local hunting spear and Christ Thorn, picked from the garden. The atmosphere was sombre.

But then came the joys of Easter morning, with drums and flags starting off from nearby congregations well before dawn and leading Salvationists from different directions to converge on Kalvali. There we gathered to celebrate the resurrection, facing the eastern horizon in anticipation of a sunrise that was not always visible. The Easter hymn, sung to a local tune, seemed to go on and on with endless ‘hallelujahs’. But then a concluding greeting in the local vernacular - Ulapona! 'He is well'. With a slight tonal variation Ulapona can also mean: 'You are well'.

And then back to the garden with rabbits let out of their cage for the occasion, and entertaining the children. A fire is lit and if we were lucky with the catch from the nearby dam, a few bream would be on the grill. 'Come and dine,' would be the call.

But before you've had a mouthful there's a nurse from the hospital. 'You're wanted urgently on E Ward.' So off you go.

As you walk across to the hospital you reflect on this meeting of life, death, and life again that is Easter. Many stories become one. I'm part of it.


February 2017