Our calendar, including even the timing of the end of the School term, remains shaped by the commemoration of Easter. The story of one person, two millennia ago, in a non-descript part of the world on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, who stood up to religious and political authorities no longer using their position and power in the service of the people. For this, we know, Jesus paid the ultimate price; his life. In a then more brutal world, that sacrifice was met by crucifixion, death raised as a warning on lifted beams of wood. Yet this was not to be the end. In the mystery of faith, all that Jesus stood for was seen as ‘alive again’; hopes were raised and visions lifted.
We have looked at this account in Chapel this past week and there noted that this is a narrative still told across the ages, to this day shaping the lives and decisions of people the world over in faith. It persists, despite the Enlightenment mind’s reticence about the ‘facts’ of the story, the Age of Reason’s lingering questions. And why it is still told is because of the power of the message; a person ‘sent from God’, to show us what God might be like, a messenger of peace and goodness. As I have pointed students to in Chapel, the Easter story is not one we necessarily ‘believe’ in that post-scientific sense. It is one we trust ourselves to. Before ‘belief’ meant ‘give a nod of intellectual assent to’, it was ‘belieben’, beloved, that which we treasure or give our heart to. Therein is the meaning for our living, not in cold, hard data.
And so, even now, faithful grandmas in war-torn Ukraine will hold on to a golden cross, hoping that in Jesus’ suffering, theirs is met. Neighbours will extend welcome and love to others in acts of kindness and giving, drawing upon the example of Jesus’ endless giving. People will rise up as leaders of causes to seek a better world, inspired by the message that God once came, bringing justice and peace.
Easter gives us reason to hope. And go on.
Rev Phil Hoffmann