We’re here – we’ve made it. It’s Easter! A big thank you to those of you who’ve been faithful throughout Holy Week – those of you who’ve walked the way of the cross by tracing Jesus through the last 7 days, walked with him through the Last Supper, the Arrest in the Garden, the crucifixion, the hasty burial: your experience of Easter will be richer and deeper because of your faithfulness,
What difference does Easter make? If is happened almost 2000 years ago, does it make any difference now? And does it make any difference to our living – or only to our dying?
Easter makes an immeasurable difference to our lives as Christians. ‘We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song’ – the words of Augustine of Hippo who lived in the fourth century, one of the founding Doctors of the Church. For Easter isn’t something that we celebrate once a year and then forget about – Easter is something we carry within us all year round, even on Good Friday when we remember Jesus’ Passion and Death. For Easter works within each of us: an assurance that love is stronger than hatred, bitterness and even death itself. Love never fails.
Sometimes we forget this, and allow the powers of darkness and death to gain the upper hand. Our annual celebration of Easter is to remind, to make us stop in our tracks and think again. What in our lives and in God’s world is deadly or bitter? Where does death prevail? What can we see that needs the power of resurrection?
In these places we are called to be witnesses to God’s saving love. In these places we pray for Jesus’ life giving love to prevail.
On that first Easter morning, and during the few weeks following, the first disciples were witnesses to resurrection. First Mary, then some of the twelve, two companions on the road to Emmaus, then Thomas (the sceptic we might call him), then some of the disciples out fishing, then tens of people, then crowds of people. All these became witnesses to Jesus’ presence, having overcome death and hell.
It is, maybe, a little different for us, because, between us and that first Easter day, is the Ascension – we no longer ‘see’ Jesus in the same way that those first disciples did. But we are still witnesses to that same transforming power which brought Jesus back from death. This is God’s power of love, still active and present in the world today.
The transformation is God’s, not ours, but we are the gardeners, the ones who look for places where life is overcoming death, and love is overcoming hate, and we do a bit of spiritual gardening – clearing away the weeds, doing some feeding, watering, and standing back to watch love grow.
Or maybe we plant the seed – seeds of love, of hope, of joy and gladness – and we wait for this seed to grow. Someone put it this way:
Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth,
From despair to hope,
from fear to trust,
lead us from hatred to love,
from war to peace;
peace fill our hearts,
let peace fill our world,
let peace fill our universe.
And whenever these things happen, we are living the resurrection, living Easter, and witnessing to the triumph of love.
This why Easter isn’t only about what happens when we die, but also about how we live now, what we do with our lives, our skills, our money, our energy.
Although we can no longer see Jesus, we can in many, many ways, be witnesses to the resurrection. Christians are called to be in places of transformation. In all circumstances of our lives, we are called to creativity, to take the side of life, to allow love space to triumph over all that is destructive of people, of GOd’s world, of ourselves.
That isn’t always an easy thing to do – it’s always easier to moan than to become an agent of change and new life. It’s always easier to hold on to things that are dying than it is to find ways of bringing life, it’s always easier to destroy than to create, or allow destruction to happen, rather than allow life to flourish.
This year, let us put ourselves on God’s side. Let’s refrain from malice, gossip, negativity – let’s rejoice, let’s bring life, let’s be an Easter people with Alleluia bursting from our souls and from our lips. Let’s smile so much that people ask why and how? Let’s be witnesses to new life, here and now, not just back then, not just after we die – but now, here, and wherever we travel.