Easter is a great time in the calendar it signals the arrival of spring with images of new born lambs, spring chick’s, flowers popping up and opening and sunshine. It is for us a period of the year which seems to offer hope after the harshness of winter. For children there is the added wonder of Easter eggs, something that many adults still love, as they connect us with our childhood which somehow often seem much better than the here and now.
Easter is also of course hugely significant for the people of God. We recall the death and resurrection of Jesus and it offers hope to us because God loved you and me enough to allow his son to come to rescue us from our failings.
The trouble is we tend to use words that complicate matters for example, the word Resurrection. I wonder what it means to you as you read that word again? In some ways a very simple word, it reminds us of the fact that Jesus had died crucified on a cross but was then able to rise from the dead. It says exactly what it means and yet for the Christian Church the word resurrection is immensely important.
Resurrection talks of new life, however our own pictures of new life do not really do the word resurrection justice. We think of animals born into the world but we know that they will at some point die, often to provide us with food. The chocolate egg we receive will soon disappear into our mouth and will be no more. The lovely spring flowers that blossom will all too soon die and fade away.
Each of our human illustrations of new life is tainted with finality. Yet these illustrations are powerful and we feel drawn to them year after year. Each one seems to reach out to us with the offer of hope. New beginnings all seem to speak of hope, often into situations which felt bleak and hopeless until the new possibility is understood. Jesus death was bleak but his resurrection brought new hope to the first disciples and continues to offer hope to all humanity today. The difference is that in Jesus being raised to life, God’s purpose of offering hope to humanity was achieved once and for all. In being raised to life Jesus lives for evermore there is no future death for Him, He has conquered death forever. It’s exciting to realise that the hope that Jesus offers cannot disappear – it does not melt away like the chocolate Easter egg in our mouth. Of course resurrection not only changed Jesus it also sought to change humanity both at the level of the individual (you and me) and at the level of community (our town, our workplace). The bible teaches us that our identity is bound up with Adam who messed everything up and that community suffered as a result. The resurrection offers a new way following Jesus by which community can be restored.
It is in knowing Christ that we can be different; it is in his death and resurrection that we can rise free of our past and create a new corporate identity which involves us seeing the world in the way Jesus sees it. Paul talks about us being transformed so that we become Christ like. It is by changing that we move from our old selves and become something new and different.
One of the ways we can demonstrate our changed lives is in the way we live. What does it mean for us as the church at the centre of Epsom to live for Christ? Our buildings are now complete and hopefully building projects are now finished so how will we use our resurrected buildings to benefit the local community.
Recently Churches Together in Epsom have been engaging in a similar discussion and whilst the answers are not clear we are engaging in dialogue with our local Borough Council. We are privileged to have a voice along with many other groups in looking at the strategic plans of the Council and to bring our concerns to those in local government. One change that is planned, that was shared at the review meeting, is a food bank for those in need in our community. We hope that the thought will become a reality and in its presence will be a tangible change at the heart of the community reminding us that the poor and vulnerable matter. Over the coming year Churches Together are seeking to hear the voice of the community, interestingly the Council are also seeking to do the same thing. It seems to me that resurrection is happening in our community so please pray for those who are engaging in conversation. Pray that we might see the green shoots of resurrection life reflected in our community just as we give thanks for the changes Jesus brings to our lives.