The Easter holiday is over, the chocolate eggs have been eaten and the children and students are back in education with many preparing for exams. Looking at the church calendar, we remain in the season of Easter (Eastertide), which lasts for 50 days (how many of us can make an Easter egg last for 50 days!?), spanning the period from Easter Sunday until Pentecost (Whit Sunday), which this year is on June 5.
The first forty days of Easter represent the time Jesus spent on earth following the resurrection, presenting himself to the apostles and others, offering many convincing proofs, and speaking about the kingdom of God (Acts, Chapter 1). Easter coincides with spring and the Jewish Passover.
Spring is nature’s season for new life, of growth and fertility for plants and animals following their winter dormancy or hibernation. In fact, the Christian festival was originally called Pascha (Hebrew, Pesah) due to its association with the Jewish Passover, a major festival celebrating the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (around 1400-1500 BC) which includes a main course of roast lamb. Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Paschal Lamb, or the Lamb of God, linking the crucifixion to the Passover sacrifice. From a Christian perspective this time of year is central to our faith. I tend to view the crucifixion and the resurrection as being like the two faces of a coin, both very different, but for the coin to exist it must have a head and a tail. When viewed from one side we see the cross, representing the pain and suffering of Jesus’ death. When viewed from the other side we see the hope of new life in His resurrection. The connection between these events is a sacred mystery, known as the Paschal Mystery (although the term is probably more familiar within the Catholic or Orthodox traditions rather than Presbyterianism).
Nevertheless, the mystery is possibly best summarised by the words In John’s Gospel (Ch 3, v16): For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Jesus taught that where there is love, there is hope. It is a powerful, enduring message, and it is written on the heart of each one of us. It is a message we can choose to follow or ignore, but if we choose to ignore it, I do not believe that God will ignore us.
Another name for Jesus is Prince of Peace, a term highly relevant at the current time of war and genocide particularly in Ukraine. But consider this, during his time on earth Jesus was known, among other things, for his humility and wisdom. As far as we know, He had no material possessions. He didn’t even write his own story. And yet, what He left behind will endure forever. We have to believe this. In amongst the chaos of human existence God is still speaking.
We need to remember that He brings cosmos out of Chaos even in the face of this time of great change in the church where the presbytery plan is bringing hurt and confusion and upset for many. Even in the face of the post covid anxiety that affects people at the deepest level and even where the images of the war disturb us at the most visceral levels. In the weeks that lie ahead, may we continue to pray for wisdom, discernment, and compassion for those who suffer and for those with power over war and peace.
With every blessing,
The Link is a monthly publication by members and staff of Morningside United Church.