In a couple of days time it will be Easter. I don’t know about you but I am ready for Easter; ready for the arrival of Spring; ready for the first phase of the easing of lock-down; ready above all to have something to celebrate.
Easter is about light shining in the midst of darkness; it is about hope breaking into our despair. It is about discovering, when things are at their most bleak that God is with us, that He won’t let go and that His love will bring us through.
Easter transformed the first disciples. They had seen Jesus, the best man they had ever known arrested and killed in public humiliation; and they had discovered the limits of their own courage. When Jesus was arrested they had fled, leaving Him to face His enemies alone.
On the first Easter they were not only afraid that the Temple police would come to arrest them; they were deeply ashamed of themselves.
And into their fear and shame broke Mary Magdalene with news that was so good - too good in fact; they assumed that it couldn’t be true. They assumed that Mary was deluded. It wasn’t until Jesus was standing in the Upper Room with them, eating a piece of fish to prove that He wasn’t a ghost, that they finally got it. God had raised Jesus from the grip of death; the tomb was empty and death was defeated.
For those first disciples, and for Christians for the past two thousand years Easter means that even when the very worst happens there is still hope. Easter says that whatever life and the world throw at us, God has not and will not desert us. And if God is with us, the God who meets us in Jesus, then there is always hope.
Easter is a beacon of hope in the chaos of life; it is a light shining in the darkest night. And for the disciples it meant an end to living in fear and shame.
The first disciples went from the Upper Room to take the Gospel out into the world. The world was often hostile, they faced set-backs and opposition, threats and violence. But because of Jesus those disciples were no longer afraid.
Those disciples brought Easter hope to people living in fear and darkness.
At this time of year I always quote the North African Bishop Saint Augustine who reminds us that “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” It is a message that we need to hear every year, but especially this year. As we move out of lockdown many people are afraid, many people feel alone and isolated; and many, too many, of us are mourning the loss of those we love.
Easter tells us that God is with us. Always and in every situation. We are not alone. Easter tells us that death has been defeated once and for all; that even as we grieve we do not grieve as those who are without hope. Easter tells us that there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As Christians we are a people of hope. And God gives us this hope, not only for ourselves, but also for those who despair. As Christians Easter is our hope, but it isn’t our possession. God gives us hope for the sake of others.
God bless you this Easter, may the light of Christ shine in your life and through you into the lives of others.