What do you think of when you hear the word “Easter” spoken?

If you ask a child you are most likely to be told “Easter eggs” or Easter egg hunts” and may be “the Easter Bunny”. For some people it is the thought of Easter chicks and tiny lambs; or daffodils and Easter lilies; gardeners/allotment holders are likely to say “it’s time to plant the early potatoes”. Teachers and the children might say “the Easter holidays”; many others who work in offices and factories will probably look forward to a long weekend with two bank holidays. Being in a holiday destination area, we might hear someone say “Easter – it’s the beginning of the holiday season!”

As I am beginning to write this article in the middle of March, I am looking out at a Rectory garden full of daffodils; it really is a spirit-lifting golden view on a grey afternoon, but I don’t think my daffodils will necessarily still be blooming by Easter. Many of the things we think of when we think about Easter represent new life. Creation springing to life again, having been dormant through much of the winter.

Spring-time has always been a celebration of new life, but in the Christian church Easter is the most important of all the festivals. It is the celebration of new life that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead offers to each one of us. It is hope. It is the promise of victory over death, obtained for us by Jesus.

The Christian faith is built upon the promise of the new life in Jesus Christ. In the darkness and desolation of what appeared to be the end of everything that Jesus had taught his disciples about, because of his death on the cross, the light and life of the risen Christ bursts through, piercing their darkness and changing their lives and the whole of history. The celebration of Easter is a reminder for the whole world that Jesus Christ can transform even the darkest situation. It is perhaps especially relevant in the difficult times we find ourselves now.

If we were to live in a world where there is no hope – what a desolate place that would be. Our television screens show us picture upon picture of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the desolation of so many towns and cities in Ukraine and the destruction caused by the severe tropical storm, Cyclone Freddy in Malawi and Mozambique. Closer to home, for those in our community who have lives where there is very little hope, or where it feels like darkness is closing in, I would say…. Jesus has been there. He knows what it is like to be deserted by his friends, innocent and yet given over to be killed, and yet his love, God’s love, reaches out from that place, to touch the world and its people in need, and that includes you and me.

When you break open your Easter egg this year, if you are fortunate to be given one, let it remind you that Jesus broke forth from the tomb, with new life. A new life for each and every one of us to enjoy; as enjoyable as eating that chocolate, or watching the frolicking lambs at play, but with greater significance and the power to transform our lives. Meeting the resurrected Jesus for me makes a huge difference, gives a real sense of purpose and desire to serve God. When I think about the cross and Jesus’ death that makes forgiveness possible; that hurts and burdens can be handed over to Jesus and life turned around, I am so grateful and life is less heavy. God’s love is expressed in many ways; being aware of his love and receiving God’s love is on offer to all of us. His love is amazing!

Celebrate Easter! Celebrate Jesus! Celebrate new life