You don’t realise how oppressive winter has been until the sun starts to shine and the weight on your shoulders – a weight you’d forgotten you were carrying – begins to lift. It feels like spring has been a long time coming in this part of the world – and with threats of a potential further assault on our dear county by the ‘Beast from the East’, it really can’t arrive soon enough. Resurrection – new life where something appeared dead – is always somehow unexpected, even if we are forewarned of its imminence.
At Easter we reflect on the mystery that is Jesus’ resurrection, the mystery of an empty grave and a living, breathing man where once a corpse had lain. The mystery of friends once torn apart, reuniting over a simple meal. The mystery of stumbling upon the one precious thing you had thought was lost forever. And that’s what it is – a mystery. To try and explain it away, to define and categorise it, to attempt to tidy it up and make it presentable for polite company – would violate its very nature. We must allow it to remain as it is – a shock, an overturning of the laws of science. A scandalous offering from God to his beloved humanity.
Because the resurrection – the life that drew Christ from his grave and restored him to his full self – was by no means a private affair. We must not be lulled into the illusion that this was something for someone else, some time else – for there and then and those people on the dusty road… that it is somehow not for us today. No. Christ’s transformation is our transformation. His dying and rising to new life robs sin and death of their victories, restoring our broken relationships with God once and for all time. This is the reason Christians make such a big deal over the Easter story. It’s not just good news, it’s the best news, the only news that matters for all humanity, for all time.
We must not allow our familiarity with the story to blind us to its world-changing implications: the weight of winter, the burden of our sin is lifted, Spring is finally upon us, new life and new possibilities abound, the promise of God’s blessing is assured.
Not all resurrections are dramatic empty-tomb moments. Many are slow – painful even – as life creeps in and doggedly rebuilds its home among the ashes. Some situations feel like nothing but a lost cause for the longest time. And then something happens – a new door opens and a crack of light shines in, someone makes the first move, a relationship is tentatively restored. Life is a fragile and beautiful thing – but it also has astonishing power. The Easter story is the promise of Spring for each and every one of us. Even if its arrival seems thwarted by the snow, God remains faithful and life will break through even in the darkest and coldest of places.
God of hope,
Thank you for gift of Jesus.
Thank you for his ministry.
Thank you for his sacrificial death.
Thank you for his resurrection.
May we be united with Christ in his new life, which is our new life.
May our transformed lives be a beacon of hope for others who live in darkness.
Rt Revd Trevor Willmott
Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury