I consider that the Eastertide story carries the most important message (for everyone), that we will ever encounter in our lives, whether or not we choose to believe it. I think that it`s a message with epoch making implications and tremendous authentic consequences for us all.
As it progresses, Christ`s ministry and passion deepens and crescendos: as He continuously reveals an Almighty God who empties Himself; giving His all, in His infinite and unconditional love. An Almighty God who paradoxically not only allows suffering, injustice and death in the world, but who shares in it, tastes it, and experiences it, in all its dreadful fullness and entirety. But that`s not the end of the story; it continues through the sacrificial reconciliation of crucifixion into the amazing and totally surprising re-creation of His glorious and peaceful Resurrection to an eternal life!
A rope pulled by forces in opposite directions develops tension (suffering)- until eventually it snaps, demonstrating that the forces acting on it are greater than itself. However, the question ensues; which one of the external forces is greater? The resurrection is God`s direct, loud and clear answer. The risen Christ appeared to His despairing and grief-stricken disciples and said, “Peace be unto you”, and their grief turned to joy and wonder in the moment of this experience.
It is often mistakenly thought that it is God`s existence which is on trial at Easter, however God`s existence is not dependant on our acceptance – rather it is the power of evil and death that is shown to be an illusion from an eternal point of view. The very nature and essence of the Easter Story, shows us that as we are (living in the present), in no position to incredulously dismiss it (or God), on the basis of an interpretation of “ the irrational evidence it presents us with ” – an interpretation which itself, inevitably is limited by our own perception, rationality and imagination; making or dismissing “a God” in our own image. God is and remains a mystery, beyond proof or comprehension by human interrogation (He would hardly be God otherwise!).
The Resurrection is a dramatic sign, and a conclusive demonstration of a sure and certain hope (and a source of great comfort, particularly at funerals), that death and evil in the present is overcome in eternity. It is an extraordinary event, an event beyond our actual experience in the here and now. The Easter story challenges us to Let God Be God and let God be true. It is God`s announcement that evil and death is but a vanquished illusion. Our world today may still be gripped by the presence of evil and suffering, but the Gospel of the Risen Christ at our Eastertide, is that its power is eternally overcome.
May the peace of the Risen Christ, the Saviour of our stricken world, be with us all this Easter and throughout eternity.
Adam Barclay (Lay Reader and Ordinand)