22 April 2011
Ahem. Hello... hello... is this on?
Hi. Happy Easter!
Hope you've been enjoying the weather.
Eaten much chocolate yet? And how about those Hot Cross Buns, aye?
Love 'em. Eat em every day for breakfast.
So. It's Easter. Good Friday.
And I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with you all what is so special to me about Easter.
After all its one of those "times in the year" where it is almost socially acceptable to mention the J word.
And somewhere in amongst the fluffy chicks and chocolate bunnies is the most meaningful event in the Christian calendar.
Without this weekend there would be no such thing as Christianity.
I know some of you sceptics think that would be a good thing.
Hear me out.
I'm not preaching, just sharing my faith from my heart.
I'm taking this time today not just to share with you, but to refocus my own thoughts on why this weekend is special.
Through the death of Jesus I find comfort.
Strange but true.
I have a God who gets it. Who knows suffering and is "acquainted with grief."
He is not far removed from our human plight; He is not just "watching us from a distance."
He came. He became one of us. He lived a human life and died a hideous death.
He has experienced pain, physical and emotional. He knows what it is to be on top of the world one day and have the crowd baying for his blood the next.
To be betrayed by a close friend. To be abandoned at the time of his greatest need.
To be put on display for his enemies to mock. To be unjustly punished when all he did was try to help others.
He's been rejected, misunderstood, wrongly judged.
This is a God I can call on when I'm in trouble.
This is a God that understands weakness, pain and suffering.
When I am alone, betrayed, rejected, I know he feels what I feel.
This is what means most to me about the death of Jesus.
The worst I can imagine, he has experienced.
It brings him close to me, he shares my world.
And then, because Good Friday in all its horror and violence was only the beginning, there comes Easter Sunday and an empty tomb.
Without the Resurrection, the death of Jesus would just be a sad story of a Good Man wrongly killed.
Without the Resurrection his fearful chicken-hearted disciples would have remained in hiding, returned to their fishing boats.
They would not have had the fires of courage lit within them that turned their world upside down, unless Jesus really had conquered the grave. Because before that, they were running scared.
Sceptics, I can hear your doubts from here.
Even his closest friends had doubts. Remember Thomas? It's OK. God is not scared of our questions or our scepticism. He knows we are only human, remember?
But do you know the part of the resurrection story that touches me most?
Mary Magdalene, crying in the garden.
Mary who loved Jesus and had come to find his tomb empty, and his grave desecrated.
Not even his body remained for her to weep over, so she wept in the garden.
Through her tears she saw someone approach her; thinking he was the gardener, she asked him, "Where have they taken Him?"
And he said one word, "Mary!" and she knew it was Jesus.
Mary, woman with a past. Broken hearted...
Jesus newly resurrected, full of glory, shining with victory over death...
Jesus took time to comfort her, to show her he was alive and give her hope because her tears mattered to him. He didn't go first to Peter or John or one of the other famous blokes. He went first to a woman.
I love that Jesus went against his culture and treated women with respect, dignity, love.
What's not to love about a God like that?
I hope you can find a minute in between the chocolate-eating and bun-munching to ponder the deeper meaning of Easter this weekend.
God himself in human form, dying and conquering death itself so we can have hope, forgiveness and the chance of a Fresh Start and a new connection with him.
It's what gives me hope when everything turns to custard.
P.S. Photos are from the last two years "Easter dinners" where we dressed up, ate lamb and pita bread, and welcomed some time travellers to tell us about their experiences on the first Easter *smile*