At the time of writing we are in the middle of Lent, preparing for Passiontide. Passiontide is of course that period of the year when we prepare to walk the path towards Jesus’ passion and death. But, by the time you read this we will be in Easter season. Sometimes people ask why we spend so much time and energy on Holy Week. Why don’t we just skip the uncomfortable bits and go straight from Palm Sunday to Easter Day? Well, Christianity doesn’t give us a get out of jail free card so that we can avoid the bits of life that are difficult or we’d rather not face. For the disciples, Jesus’ resurrection would not have been nearly so transformative if they had not first experienced the fear and anguish of the crucifixion. The same is true for us, and our liturgy through Holy Week seeks to draw us into that same reality.
When I was serving a church on the edge of a large shanty town in South Africa, I was fortunate enough to make many friends. Amidst some of the cruellest poverty and inequality I have ever witnessed, there was something remarkable about everyone’s hope and positivity. Some of these beautiful people were living in the most appalling conditions and had been through so much heartache and pain. And yet it was rare to meet an individual who was sceptical about life. When I asked one of them where their wonderful outlook came from, they were simply puzzled. “What do you mean?” they said. “Jesus gives us our hope. His resurrection is our joy. He died so that we might live. It would be a dishonour to him not to rejoice, always!”
To live under the resurrection is the greatest gift we can know. Like a fine pair of spectacles, the resurrection transforms everything we see. But to live under the resurrection does not mean that we get to avoid the dark or difficult bits of life. No, the resurrection gives us hope during dark times and helps us to cope during hard times. Our world is already filled with enough negativity, scepticism and distrust. But we have a different outlook to bring and it is one that can transform the world around us. As Christians, the greatest gift we have to offer the world is resurrection joy. A joy that radiates from us and illumines everything around us. Because we know that Jesus did not die in vain, but instead that we are being caught up in the winds of an eternally glorious future.
So I wish you endless Easter Joy this resurrection season,