It seems that horror movies and ghost stories do very well and we all grew up enjoying a good ghost story or a scary film. This is no different today with many different movies, stories, and television programmes continuing to make horror popular. The current Vampire films like Twilight and the Vampire Diaries are very popular today. When I was a teen it was Halloween, Freddy Kruger, Salem’s Lot, and Stephen King. In my parent’s time, it was Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, and Vincent Price, and when my grandparents were around there was Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jnr, Yvonne De Carlo, and Max Schreck.
When I was reading Dracula, the rules were; he cast no reflection in a mirror, he could be repelled by a cross, and he couldn’t abide garlic. He never emerged during daylight, and Dracula and all vampires had to sleep in their coffins at night on earth from their native land. Bram Stoker tells us that the Schooner the Demeter which Dracula chartered to go to Whitby, England, carried over fifty earth boxes for that purpose. Now watching the Vampire Diaries, the undead walk in the sunlight if they wear a ring or jewellery fashioned by a witch, they never stop looking at themselves in mirrors, they aren’t repelled by crosses, they seem to eat garlic and chilli regularly, and a wooden stake may not kill them off.
Taking all this into account as I write, the human person has a huge desire and need to connect with the supernatural. Along with the Vampire programmes and the popular reality T.V. shows, we see shows where people and camera crews go into well-known haunted houses with psychics. (Are they crazy?) It’s as if the spirit world is not that far away at all. In fact the spirit world is very near.
We are in Easter time and Christians everywhere give thanks for the saving message of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came on earth to tell us that God loves us very much and he told us that God is like an Abba, a Father. Jesus spoke in parables to illustrate the closeness of God to His people and how much He loves us. While God is transcendent, God is also immanent and someone who wants us to be in relationship with Him. One of the most powerful stories Jesus told to show the closeness and the kindness of God was the story of the ‘Prodigal’ Father and the ‘lost’ and ‘dutiful’ sons (Luke 15: 11-32) He tells this story in the presence of Scribes and Pharisees who are critical of Jesus’ mixing with tax collectors and sinners. There is the son who gets greedy and asks for his share of the family inheritance and desires to make his own way in the world. He goes away and makes a mess of his life. When things get desperate, He comes to his senses and decides to ask for forgiveness and returns to the father who we see has been looking out for him every day. This Father never gave up on his wayward son. He fully reinstates the son back into the family and throws a party because he has got him back safe and sound. The elder son of the father despite remaining faithful through it all is angry and jealous and refuses to share in the father’s joy. Even the dutiful son needs some salvation. The point Jesus is making to the Scribes and Pharisees in telling the story is that this ‘father ‘who is prodigal or extravagant in his generosity to sinners is actually God’s self-description.
All through his public ministry, Jesus tells the people and his disciples in Spirit-filled words and powerful deeds that it is written that the Christ would suffer. He would be betrayed, arrested, tried, scourged, crucified, and die on the cross. And after three days Jesus would rise from the dead. Witnesses from his group (most of the disciples, his closest collaborators, ran away terrified) came to the tomb were his body had been placed and saw that he was not there. They all had encounters with the risen Jesus who reminded them all that it was ‘ordained that the Christ would suffer…’ (Luke 24: 1-53)
Fuelled by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 1-12) the disciples and their followers were charged with the great mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28: 16-22) We are confident therefore that because of these witnesses, and because of their faith and the faith of our parents and their parents before them, we have inherited a belief in God who loves us unconditionally and that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can connect with him anytime through prayer. We also have the prayers of the Saints, and those who have gone to the Kingdom of God before us as Jesus promised we would (John 14:1-6) We have the prayers of Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of God who goes to her Son, Jesus with our prayers and our needs.
The spirit world, the world of God is here and now and it is a world of life and joy. And it is through prayer and becoming quiet that we connect with it. God hears all our prayers and is not deaf to our fears and struggles. Do not be afraid, Jesus Christ is risen Alleluia!