Easter – what does it mean for you?
If you are living in the Netherlands, the thought might simply be that you may have a day off on the Monday that follows the weekend (and if so, enjoy!)
Perhaps due to world circumstances like the situation in Ukraine or personal health challenges like covid, Easter is not really featuring on your horizon?
Earlier before writing this, I was thinking back to being a child and my Easter experiences. Wrapped around going to church services were family traditions, such as eating hot cross buns. Google these if you are not sure what they are. Also, there were painted boiled eggs and the receiving of chocolate eggs (I still have a toy car that was in the middle of one!)
Such traditions were, loosely in my mind, linked in some way to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet I think it was vague at times and probably the thought of chocolate was more at the forefront on many occasions. Certainly, considering something like justice in the world and the significance of Easter for this, was far from my mind.
For instance, our having hot cross buns on Good Friday. I saw the connection as a child between the pastry cross design and Jesus dying. Yet why call it good?
Someone being crucified – how can that be a good thing? Isn’t it just defeat and wholly unjust?
Well, firstly in response to this, the origin of using the word ‘good’ here is possibly rooting back to the idea of it being a day of special significance. That is a day that is ‘set apart’ (holy) (See for instance: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27067136)
Over time words can get detached from their original intent.
Crucifixion was a horrifying way to die and yet the Gospel accounts and other parts of the New Testament see it as crucial and central to Christian faith. Christians see in Jesus’ death, his fulfilling ancient prophecies such as these words from Isaiah:
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5 New International Version
What might this mean for our lives, now in 2022?
The Gospel accounts recall in detail Christ’s arrest, mockery of a trial, beatings and then death on a cross. As Mark puts it, at the end of all this,
“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last”
Mark 15:37 New International Version
This was not the end – Mark recounts women arriving on the first Easter Day morning, wondering how they will enter the tomb due to the large stone over it. Yet to their shock when they get there, the stone is removed and Mark describes someone like a young man saying to them,
“Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here!”
Mark 16:6, New International Version
Whether you count yourself as Christian or not, how do you respond to the thought that death did not defeat Christ, that in fact He rose again?
Is it all just a story? Maybe with some deep metaphorical truth, to somehow be fathomed? Or is it, as multitudes of Christians across the world believe, actually something that happened? And if true, what are the implications for our lives now? Even for matters of justice? (something we have been thinking about as a church community during Lent)
Perhaps if we take time to reflect on these things, we might come to some fresh idea as to why Good Friday is called good? Maybe Easter weekend can be so much more than just an extra day off?
ICL Easter services:
Good Friday (April 15), 19.30 – 20.30: ‘Justice in the shape of a cross’ A more reflective style service – songs, Scripture, prayers, silence, communion as we think about Christ dying on the cross
Easter Day (April 17) – 11.00 -12.30: ‘Risen again – more than just a story?’ Celebration time including groups for kids and youth, coffee and cake after the service and an egg hunt for the kids.
All welcome at both services