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Church News Volume 6, Issue 4 (April 2005)

Dear friends,

"If it is for this life only that Christ has given us hope, we of all men are most to be pitied. But the truth is, Christ was raised to life - the first-fruits of the harvest of the dead" 1 Cor. 15.20

Easter, the Day of Resurrection! Easter, the greatest of the Christian festivals! We rejoice and give thanks to God for the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. Easter Day is the climax of our faith, the supreme proof of the love of God towards us and all humanity. Thanks be to the Father for his mercy and care in vindicating the life of Jesus, and the truth for which Jesus lived and died.

Do we understand this astonishing Event, do we take into our hearts and minds the truth of this Festival? Of the two great Christian festivals, Easter and Christmas, Easter is so much more important than Christmas - though both, of course, are vital and essential - yet Easter is more difficult for us to take in, to understand. The events we recall at Christmas make a direct appeal to our imagination and our affections; the picture of Joseph and Mary, and the Child in a manger, the shepherds and the angels. We can see all that and we can take it into our hearts, even though we do not enter totally into the great Gospel truths that the picture stands for.

The truth of Easter is different. The actual event is hidden from us; we cannot envisage it because as an event it is beyond our imagination. Even the beautiful story of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene in the garden, and calling her by name - this is the Man who has just a few hours ago been cruelly annihilated, done away with, destroyed brutally on the Cross.

Easter asks us for real faith - real faith in a God who is greater than pain and sin and death. A God who can restore to life a tortured body, a brutally destroyed man, a corpse. The Gospels tell us the tomb was empty - all four Gospels say the same. "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb?" Consider that seriously.

When the Christ appeared to his disciples at the first Easter, his human nature had been glorified and had been made heavenly. What does this mean? He was still human, still the Son of Mary as well as the eternal Son of God; but his human nature was no longer limited by time and space. It is the human nature he shares with us in the Holy Eucharist. That humanity was perfect because it had gone through the Sacrifice of perfect love and perfect obedience, for our sake.

This is why we do not say something like "Take my humanity" at our Eucharist - that would be too vague; but we use the tremendous, awful words he himself told us to use - "This is my Body" - crucified for you; "This is my Blood" - shed for you.

Easter Day proclaims that Jesus came back from death to offer a new and wonderful companionship to his disciples; and it is proclaimed for us also. God indeed is always present in this world; Easter means that he is with us in the person of the human Jesus. Jesus is our companion, human as well as divine. He is infinitely linked to us in our deepest selves, our inmost nature, through Baptism and through our Faith.

Notice how the Risen Christ appeared to those desperate souls, people overwhelmed with misery and disaster. The women suffering the agony of bereavement, the frightened apostles hiding in terror from the authorities, the other followers abandoning their hopes and beginning to re-start their lives wearily on the old lines - though the fishermen could not make a catch. Thomas in his sceptism and disbelief, and all of them in their shame at their desertion of the Master.

Perhaps the Risen Christ is most vividly experienced by those in similar times of distress, in pain and illness, in deep penitence for sin, in persecution and martyrdom, as in many parts of the world today.

And what of our experience of the Lord Jesus?

Is it vivid, is it real?

If not, why not?

Remember the words of Jesus to Thomas: "Blessed are those who have not seen - and yet believe!"

So this Easter let us stir up our faith.

'Lord, I believe!'
Lord, I have not seen you;
My experience of your Presence with me, Day by day is not very compelling -
But, Lord, I believe!
Lord, I believe you are with me always, Even when I forget you,
Even when I am disloyal to you.
Christ in me, you are the hope of Glory, the hope of my own resurrection,
and eternal life with you.
Because you tell me to believe,
as you told your wavering, fearful disciples; because you died for me -
Lord, I believe!

HAPPY EASTER!

Rev'd Ian M. Finn

News Letter Archive.

Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011