An Easter note from the Manse

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Is it my imagination or did we not just celebrate Christmas what seems like only a few weeks ago!   How is it possible that Easter has arrived upon us already?  Where has the time gone?  That’s a question I find myself asking a lot these days.  Many of us feel that time passes more quickly as we age.  We know, of course, that such a thing is an impossibility…we don’t have the ability to alter the space/time continuum.  However, how we perceive the passing of time does change with age.  One theory is that from childhood to early adulthood we have many new and fresh experiences and we learn countless new skills.  As older adults, though, our lives become more routine, and we experience fewer unfamiliar moments.  This presents us with a choice: to simply let the passage of time take its course, or to alter our perceptions by keeping our minds active, continually learning and experiencing new things.  This is a choice we need to make in every sphere of our lives, and particularly in our faith journey.

If, as we believe, Jesus was about 33 years old when He was crucified and resurrected, that means there have been more than 1800 Easters since.  You would think, therefore, that we would be ready for it, especially as we celebrate the event every year.  But, for some reason, it always seems to catch us unawares.  For some reason we never quite seem to be as ready as we ought to be.  In a sense, very little has changed since the beginning.  The first Easter certainly took the disciples and the other followers of Jesus by surprise, and that despite the fact that Jesus had spent a considerable amount of His public ministry preparing them for it.  Jesus had made no secret of the fact that He was going to die, or the reason why.  Nor had He made any secret of the fact that He would also be raised from the dead, or the reason why.  Yet, none of the disciples were really prepared for it when it came.  It was only after the death and resurrection of Jesus that the disciples begin to put the pieces together, and the full implication of what they had witnessed began to dawn on them.

We, on the other hand, have both the benefit of the Biblical tradition and the experience of generations of believers since that first Easter to draw upon.  What’s our excuse for being taken unawares?  What reasons can we offer for not being ready for Easter?  I respectfully suggest that one reason is that we have made Easter an event to be celebrated, rather than a life to be lived.  Easter has become just another date on an overcrowded calendar of events.  Whereas, for the first believers, Easter became the norm by which they lived and died.   Everything they said and did was energised by their unwavering conviction that as followers of the resurrected Jesus Christ they too were resurrection people.  For them Easter wasn’t just one day to be celebrated.  Instead, it was a life to be lived…every day!

If Easter has crept up on us and taken us by surprise, might it be because our commemoration of it has become routine and predictable?  Is it possible that it has become just another circle on the calendar standing as a marker of the passing of yet another year?   Perhaps this year could be different…just maybe we could approach this Easter with fresh eyes and a mind open to experiencing it as though for the very first time.  Easter is much more than the memory of a past event, but rather it is an invitation to a new experience of the resurrected Jesus in our lives.

For the believer in Jesus, Easter can never come too soon.  May each one of you come to know the blessing of this Easter life anew each and every year.

This article was first published in the April 2017 issue of “Inspire”, the Wilson Memorial Church newsletter.