I write this as Easter approaches, very much thinking ‘Easter – here again already.’ How many times have I heard, read, rehearsed or entered into the Easter story in one way or another over the years. As we have progressed through Lent, we have seen Jesus saying things that point to his death on the cross which looms ever larger the further we go. Holy Week will come and we will remember the entry into Jerusalem, a last meal with his friends, betrayal in a garden and then after the trials the crucifixion itself. But it will not be the end of the story for we shall come within 48 hours of that to Easter Day and the story of his rising and the way in which he was so very real to many afterwards.
This year I have been reminded very forcibly of the way in which he is still alive and at work in the world and in the lives of individuals. ‘Love never ends’ says St Paul and I have seen it living on in others in so many ways. We believe he gave his life for others, a sacrificial love at work in him. ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends.’ The words of Jesus are oft repeated around Remembrance Sunday, but in reality we could use them many times over throughout the year.
I think of the sacrifices my parents made – I would not be the person I am or have some of the gifts I possess without them.
I think of sacrifices made by partners in life that others might pursue a particular path. I have read recently of people moved by Christian love to give their lives and take the place of another in going to their death. Olympic athlete and Christian Missionary Eric Liddell, whose story was portrayed in ‘Chariots of Fire’, was taken Prisoner of War by the Japanese in the Second World War. When the chance of freedom came he gave it up so a pregnant woman could leave instead. He would die shortly before others were liberated. More recently, what about the soldiers who have died in Ireland – when one saw what was happening he flung himself on top of the pizza deliverer bringing their supper to the camp. He took the bullets and died and in so doing saved the pizza deliverer who lives to tell the tale.
The love of Jesus is lived out and acted on in many lives. As we celebrate it afresh again this Easter, may something of it be seen in you and me that others may benefit as we have.
With my very best wishes for Easter,
Your Minister and friend,