Easter is fast approaching and for me this is the most significant part of the church’s year. This is because without Jesus’ death for our sins on the cross and his victory over death on that glorious Easter morning, there is no Christian faith and the church is pointless – as St Paul says in 1 Cor 15:17 &19, ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.’ But because Christ has indeed been raised, the sting of death has been drawn, it has been ‘swallowed up in victory’ (v54), and the way to a living relationship with God has been decisively opened up for this life and into eternity.
Therefore it is my hope and my prayer during this Easter season that we will all take the opportunity to reflect afresh on what the writer to the Hebrews calls this ‘great salvation’ that Jesus won for us; it is my hope and my prayer that we will all seek to be absorbed and impacted deeply by the drama of the events of Holy Week such as the cleansing of the temple, Jesus being anointed by the woman in Bethany, the reframing of the Passover into the meal we now know as the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist, Jesus’ desperate struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, His betrayal by Judas with a kiss and his dreadful denial by Peter, as well as all the events surrounding his crucifixion and resurrection. And maybe the way to do this is to seek to read those accounts as if you were present, as an eye-witness. Read them perhaps as if you were Peter or one of the other disciples, or maybe as Mary Magdelene who the gospel writers tell us was close at hand throughout these events and who John tells us was the 1st witness of the resurrection.
Now this is a journey of reflection we can take on our own, but as with most journeys, it will be more enriching if we take it in the company of others – so why not join us for our Holy Week gatherings – we will be meeting each evening at 7.30, Monday to Wednesday, at St Luke’s, where our themes will be Confrontation, Preparation and Betrayal. Then on Maundy Thursday, also at St Luke’s at 7.30pm there will be Holy Communion with foot washing. Good Friday then sees us spend an hour by the cross at St Luke’s at 2pm and then at 7pm in St John’s the choir will help lead in further reflection of the cross. Then the final stage of our shared journey will be All Age Communions at both St John’s (10am) and St Luke’s (10.30 am) on Easter Day.
Now I am fully aware that with the busyness of life and with the demands of Smelly Yellow Welly Club not everyone will be able to attend all of these services, but nevertheless it is my firm conviction that the more we engage with the events of Holy Week, in whatever ways we can, the more meaningful things be and the more our faith will be fed and our love for Jesus deepened – which is, after all, what He desires most from us as the One who loves us so much that He went to the cross for us. .