Saturday, 22 March 2008

Easter Reflections

I love Easter. I love being reminded for a few days exactly what my focus in life is. Christ dying and Christ rising again. There is so much to learn from these few brief days in history, but at the moment, I am particularly struck by one of the stories of Jesus after the ressurection. Its found in the gospel of John Chapter 20, and its where Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene.

The disciples have all been to the tomb, seen that its empty, been completly freaked out and confused (as you would be) and then gone away to think some more. That is, all except Mary, who stays beside the tomb crying. And its at this point, that in John's account, Jesus is first seen risen again. In and of itself its a significant moment. In Jewish law at that time, women were not considered to be reliable and so weren't allowed to act as witnesses in a court of law. By entrusting Mary with the news that He is actually alive, Jesus goes against all the logic of his day, and puts trust in a woman. And not just any women, but a woman that any of the 'religious' of his day would have been shocked to have been seen with. I love this about Jesus, He rocked the boat, and showed this amazing unconditional love to everyone, even the most hated. The gospel was first proclaimed by women, the topsy-turvy Kingdom of God which had come when Jesus rose again, did things differently, radical change was on the way.

But, of course, the resurrection is not primarily a political statement for me to use shamelessly to fulfil my own agenda (much as I really believe that Jesus did deliberatly choose a women to be the first to see him). So, the other thing thats on my mind at the moment is 'Do not be afraid'. When the women went to the tomb and found it open with big angels outside, in all the accounts, the first thing the angels say is 'do not be afraid'. Its also what Jesus says the first time he meets the apostles. Now, I will grant you, they probably needed to hear this given that they have just seen big angels/dead people walking etc, and these are, to the logical person, things to be afraid of. However, I can't help but think that there was more to this 'Do not be afraid' than that.

When Jesus rose from the dead something changed, I don't really understand it, but I know that it gives us hope, and means that we do not have to fear.

For those who are lonely and not sure what the future holds.
Do not be afraid.

For the activists who have worked so hard for so long and seen no change
Do not be afraid.

For those in countries at war
Do not be afraid.

For the dying, the bereaved, the broken hearted.
Do not be afraid.

For those in situations of poverty and desperation.
Do not be afraid.

For those who are unsure whether God is real, and for whom hope is lost.
Do not be afraid.

Christ is risen.

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