From the Vicarage ….
There is no other day to compare with Easter Day. It stands out from all the conflicts and turmoil of our broken world. Early on the first Easter morning the power of God was revealed to a disbelieving world. Death is conquered – Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. It was an event which not only altered the past but also shaped the future. Nothing can be the same again. This is what makes Easter the greatest occasion for the Church and for the world. All our hopes for the future stem from this one event in our history. Easter announces that there is a way forward out of darkness. Easter assures us that transformation is possible and that change can take place in our lives.
“Alleluia, Christ is Risen!” But how do people come to believe this is true?’ As a priest, I am constantly surprised by the sheer variety of stories people tell about what has led them to say: ‘I believe’ when they hear the Easter story. The stories are enormously varied: some people find life and meaning in worshiping together, and that has persuaded them; some have experienced release from a problem or burden in their life that they have tried to shake off for ages – and then suddenly it has happened. Some people have stories of disasters, lives torn apart by tragedy – events in which nobody could find any meaning – and then suddenly light comes out of darkness – a door opens to a different and brighter future – and all out of some great suffering or seemingly meaningless catastrophe. There are some who bear with them the pain and memory of a recent bereavement, and I think this will be particularly true this year as a result of the ongoing pandemic, for which there are no quick or easy words of comfort. What there is, is the Easter story and the promise of new life, and that is central to the Christian faith – it speaks of new life.
St.John records that the experience of one of the twelve disciples, Thomas. Thomas had not been with the other disciples when they told him they had seen Jesus, he could not believe them. He was asking of them, and of himself, the question that millions have asked after him: Did Jesus really rise physically from the dead? “Unless I can see him and touch him,” he said, “I will not believe.” We make a huge mistake if we simply dismiss Thomas as a man of little faith. He was not. I do not think we can blame him for not accepting the disciples’ story without a shred of evidence. Thomas had seen Jesus die. He, like the other disciples, was frightened, disheartened, and disillusioned, and he was unwilling to accept the word of others.
The scene is vividly described. The doors of the upper room where the disciples were was locked, and Jesus came and stood among them. He said to Thomas, “Reach out your finger, and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side and believing.” This was the moment of transformation for Thomas, for, in this moment, and, without touching Jesus, he understood the truth. Jesus had risen from the dead. To believe in the resurrection is to trust that God has caught us up into living a new life in a transformed world.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead affirms that death is not the end for us. There is a life beyond our mortal life in this world. Our existence is not limited by the cycle of birth to death. Easter is a turning point which invites us to live in an entirely new way that goes beyond the limitations of this world. We are challenged to become part of a new creation, inspired by the life of God. But, life depends on how we look at it. It can be seen as an empty tomb, full of bitterness and confusion, or it can be seen as full of joy and hope. The challenge for us is to appreciate God and to see his plan in the ordinary everyday events which surround us, and to place our faith and trust in the ultimate goodness of his purposes. The challenge is to open our hearts and minds to the risen Christ by allowing ourselves to be sent into the world to proclaim the Good News of this new life and new creation to all people.
Call our Father, we thank you for the joy of this Easter. May all who celebrate the resurrection of your Son experiences his power in their lives. We make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With more hours of daylight, the joy of spring, enjoy Easter, and please stay safe and well.
With every blessing this Eastertide.