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Hallo again to all.

It's Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and yet we find it difficult to keep the images of green palm fronds in our minds. We keep thinking of dust, ashes, and sand—more suited surely to the beginning of Lent than our passage through this day, the great gate of Holy Week.

Yet the images of dust and sand have kept us all company throughout this Lent, throughout this war in Iraq, from great swirls of blinding sandstorms to the sad reddish dust of the shards of priceless Assyrian pottery, ruined in the blind looting of the National Museum in Baghdad. The museum, in one of those hideously ironic moments in history, had just reopened its doors to its superb collection of the finest Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian art in the world. How odd that the land which gave us one of the first codes of law had turned on itself, destroying its own. And before there were law codes, there was writing, also born somewhere in this part of the world, in those first markings we call cuneiform.

Dust, the dry, and the dead. Palms, the green, the living. A diptych of sorts, as we burn the fronds to produce the ashes for Ash Wednesday. And Palm Sunday is a kind of diptych, too, with its triumphant shouts and jostling joyful processions. But beware of crowds, always fickle in their emotions. A crowd can turn its energy from hosannas to hoarse shouts for a crucifixion in a matter of days.

War in Iraq. Crucifixion in Jerusalem. Bullets. Crosses. Donkeys. Cocks crowing. 'Rural life persists tenaciously in the heart of Baghdad. Vegetables are grown a block away from the Ministry of Information, and, somewhere very near the Palestine Hotel, there is a donkey who brays loudly several times a day. In the early hours of the morning, I hear roosters crowing'. (The New Yorker, Letter from Baghdad, 13 April).

Even though we want you to read our News Centre, we ask that you focus on our common Anglican faith before you read news about the rough edges of our world, the dust and ashes... Regardless of how we might differ in our beliefs about this and that, one of the joys of Easter is that all of us believe that

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

This is a week of contradictions, where darkness seems to quench the light, where evil gains the upper hand, where the irrational and the chaotic appear to reign, but only for a time. We know the end of the story, we know What Happened on the Third Day, and its name and nature are Love—and it sustains the world.

So amongst all the broken things of this world:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.*

See you next week, dear friends, on the other side, in Easter light.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 13 April 2003

*Leonard Cohen, Anthem

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