Life is sometimes a roller-coaster of experiences and emotions. That’s how is was 2000 years ago and the implications of what happened then are still changing the world today.
Easter Saturday is an ‘in-between’ time with a sense of waiting in the air. Earth’s darkest day is over. We are past our ‘ground zero’ and the final cry on the cross ‘It is Finished’. The body has been laid with sadness and devotion in the tomb. Now a sabbath rest enables space for the grieving of broken hearts. But it is also pregnant with promise, the day that changed everything is coming. But not until the third day.
Across the land today people are busy in their local church preparing for the coming Easter Day celebrations. Easter lilies have been arranged along with other flowers and the scent of foliage and nectar fills the church. The children have also been involved with the Easter garden. In the churchyard some of the recent graves are being lovingly tended with flowers by relatives. But Good Friday’s terrible events have left their mark – a sadness that it had to come to this.
Few of the men come out of the sad Good Friday Bible story with any credit, except for Joseph of Arimathea, helped by Nicodemus, the penitent thief on the cross and the Centurion. But it was the faithful women who stayed loyally watching the horror of the crucifixion and who came to bring oils to anoint the body of their dear Lord. Though heartbroken they were devoted to the end and beyond.
Of course it wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus on the cross, but Love – a love that sets us free. No wonder we call it Good Friday!
The scars are still there, a reminder of how far Love was willing to go. The two at Emmaus saw the nail prints in Christ’s hands and Thomas reached out and touched the scar on Jesus’s side. That love changed everything and created a vibrant church that deeply influenced the first three centuries AD. Henry Vaughan, the 17th century poet, speaks of the early age of the church in these glowing words:
“It was a blessed and glorious age the Primitive Christians lived in….when the blood of Christ was yet warm, and the memory of his miracles and love were fresh and vigorous; what zeal, what powerful faith, what perfect charity, hearty humility, and true kindness was there then to be found on the earth?”
How then do I feel ? Is the memory of those momentous three days still ‘warm’, ‘fresh and vigorous’ for me as a 21st century disciple?
On Easter Day all will be different. There will be open-air sunrise services. Later, church bells will be ringing and there will be crowded services in church with joyful hymns, songs and cheerful smiling faces.
” Rise, heart, thy lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him may’st rise: …..
I got me flowers to straw thy way;From ‘Easter’ by George Herbert
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.”
The onlookers still pass by unmoved. Wiseacres shake their heads in disbelief, while others mock and pour scorn. But I for one want to be with the faithful few who watched and waited with devotion and who were there to meet their Lord when he rose on that first Easter day.
“I am the First and the Last. I am the Living one. I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'”
(Revelation 1 v 17-18)
For the Christian the door to a glorious future has been ‘unlocked’ and is open to us. The ‘winter’ of the soul is over and eternal ‘spring’ is here.
We have every reason to sing this Easter!
Wishing you a happy Easter. Thank you for following. A special welcome to those who have joined us recently.
Next time -‘The Cuckoos are back!’