Letter from Reverend John Spiers - Associate Priest
At 6:00am on Easter Day a small group of Christians will gather near Tom Long’s Post. In the half-light of dawn, as the sun rises, they will celebrate Easter. Around the world similar groups, large and small, will gather to celebrate Easter, some in comfort and some in fear. Fear because there may be a knock on the door as, in that particular country, Christian gatherings are forbidden, Bibles will be seized and the leaders dragged off to prison.
Fear was the same emotion that the early disciples felt in the half-light of dawn. It was the women from amongst the followers of Jesus who came to anoint his body. But, for Mary Magdalene, that fear turned to joy when she met Jesus in the garden by the empty tomb. Joy because all that Jesus had taught his disciples had come true.
Now, nearly two thousand years later, we can be inclined to go straight to the joy of Easter Day, bypassing the events of the week before Easter, all too ready to eat the chocolate that we have been tempted by during Lent, the six weeks before Easter. We hear enough about the problems of our world without adding to the list. However, preparing for Easter is important. It is important because the immense scale of the joy felt by a few hundred men and women two thousand years ago can be hard to understand. They had seen Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey through cheering crowds. Then on the Thursday of that week the mood in Jerusalem was changing. At the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus tells them that he will be betrayed. Then he goes to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. The mood becomes more sombre as he is arrested after Judas marks him out with a kiss on the cheek. Then we come to that darkest of days, Good Friday, the trial and death of Jesus on the cross.
When we try to understand the events of that tumultuous week, we can start to understand the great outpouring of emotion when fear turns to joy on Easter Day.
In the Bible it is written ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ That is the reason for the joy that Christians feel on Easter Day. Joy because we know that God still loves us all unconditionally. This is why Jesus died and rose again on Easter Day. That love is still with us, in the depths of our hearts. There, deep within all of us, is a tiny piece of God’s love. The celebration of Easter Day helps us rekindle that love for those around us, for the world around us and ourselves.
The original meaning of church is ‘to gather’. All are welcome to gather on Easter Day. I look forward to seeing some of you on the Common at 6:00am. I will be the tall man in the ankle-length woollen cloak! There we will shout, at least once, ‘Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!’ because that is what Easter is about.
Reverend John Spiers