What extremely strange, uncertain and difficult days we are living in. The clocks have changed, spring is coming, new things should be opening up before us and yet we find ourselves in lockdown and confined to our homes. When the NHS is normally under less pressure during these spring and summer months it is currently facing up to unparalleled burdens. Children should be enjoying their last week of school before the Easter holidays but actually they’ve already been off for 10 days.
The Coronavirus is having a massive impact on people’s lives, not only in this country, but all across the world and the situation is changing literally by the day. Without wanting to send you further into spiralling despair think of other things too in recent months – we have had serious flooding in parts of our own country with many people’s lives being affected and further afield we have witnessed the bush fires in Australia and we continue to see nations and regions of the world torn apart by warfare and conflict.
Which rather begs the question, what sort of world do you long to see? What sort of paradise do you dream about? I’m fairly certain we all long for and dream of a perfect, peaceful world. I’m also fairly certain that at this present time we can’t see much hope for one. That, though, is why the season of Easter, which we celebrate this month with Easter Sunday being on April 12 is such good news – it cuts right through our fears and uncertainty and speaks to us a message of wonderful hope, resting, Christians believe, on the certain fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection more than 2000 years ago. It is as relevant today as at any time in history. Our Emeritus Lay Minister, Simon Wainman, has been reading one of Michael Mayne’s books, ‘Alleluia is our Song. Reflections on Easter and Pentecost’ and he sent me the attached which he thought rather appropriate in the current circumstances. Michael Mayne was a much loved Dean of Westminster for many years and he says this, ‘Easter speaks of a God who, in Christ, holds us in his love at this, and every moment of our life and beyond it: A God of surprises who is living and active in his world and our lives – a God who can bring new life out of what seems dead, new hope to what appears to be hopeless’ I like that. New life, new hope, new beginnings, a new relationship made possible with God because of Jesus.
When Jesus walked on the earth he said this, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’. It’s an astonishing statement – Jesus claiming that he knows fully what God is like, and that he provides the way to get to God. You see, amazing things happened when Jesus came to earth. Jesus was a real human being who ate, drank, washed, slept, partied, worked and experienced all the same range of emotions as we do except, unlike us, Jesus never did, thought or said anything wrong. Ultimately Jesus stood in the place where flawed human beings like us deserve to be. He suffered and died on the cross so that we can know that God has forgiven us. Incredibly it didn’t end there, though, because Jesus rose from the dead. The good news is that Jesus has the power to raise us from the dead too!
So do you long to be able to enjoy the world which God has given you? Well this is also what he wants and intends. But it is also crucial that we keep an eternal perspective on things. Invariably we will face both joys and sorrows in this present life. Unquestionably, though, all such sorrow and despair will have no place in the new heaven and the new earth that the Bible talks about in its final book, Revelation. We read in Chapter 21, ‘God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Rev 21:4)
So how can we be certain in a world of uncertainty that this perfect world we yearn for and long to see will one day be ours? Well the bible assures us that if we put our faith and trust in Jesus – acknowledging our sins and wrong-doing and receiving his forgiveness – we will not only know his constant presence with us today but we can also look forward to being with him for all eternity in a world where coronavirus, flooding, fire, warfare and destruction will never ever have a place. That’s something worth looking forward to and the good news of Easter is the key to it all. James