Eighteen months ago an initiative called “Place for Hope” was started. The initiative which is supported by the Church of Scotland Guild and the Ministries Council is something I have been closely associated with during my year as Moderator.
The initiative was born from recognising that each one of us has it in us to learn to resolve and transform conflict in ways which are constructive rather than destructive. Place for Hope was launched at a conference entitled, “Christianity, Conflict and the Soul of the Nation” opened with Paul’s words about the Ministry of Reconciliation.
This gift, for Christians, has its roots in the reconciliation that was completed that first Easter Sunday morning when the mysterious words, were first uttered: “He is not here, he is risen.”
Christ is risen!
The Gospels are unanimous in the telling of the story. While each tells it with different detail the consistency of the Gospel narrative draws the reader to the conclusion that something remarkable has happened. In short, Christ has risen this is the Easter Day event.
Early Church tradition was that new members were welcomed into the fellowship by baptism on Easter Day. The Reformed tradition was different. Easter as a special day was not celebrated the way most of us celebrate it in the 21st century. The reason being that in the Reformed Tradition the Church at worship every Sunday of the year was a church which celebrated Christ’s resurrection every Sunday of the year.
If Good Friday’s Cross is the key to Christian faith then Easter Day’s empty tomb is the lock which has been opened to tell us that, as Apostle Paul, recorded it:
“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Paul may have convinced of God’s love; convinced by the Scriptures; convinced by what he saw in the lives of others – notably perhaps – Stephen whose death, at which Paul was present, preceded his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus when he was convinced of this starting truth Easter had happened. It was true Christ was alive, Christ is alive for us.
Why does this matter?
Easter is God’s guarantee that love never dies. This is the hard love which cements human relationships with the first Person of the Holy Trinity and cements human relationships too.
Or it should bit the ice is getting thin because it is clear that too often the cement between God and humanity has not cured things and in too many human relationships personally as well as collectively there is no love lost.
This has to be one of the biggest indictments of the Easter faith. I wonder if it might be time to have a rethink and engage in a little personal revaluation and to help, here are some key questions, “What can I do to make life better for those around me?” and ” What can I do to live the Easter faith in a way which encourages, supports, affirms and values those around me?”
The Easter message brings me back to where I began – Place for Hope – inspired by the words of Paul.
“We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. How, you ask, in Christ, God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong so we could be put right with God.”
“He is not here, he is risen,” but that does not change the contemporary world, there is still work to do. We have to work, be disciplined and prepared to make sacrifices. What Easter does do is give us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline and make the sacrifice. Easter is a Place for Hope.
Notes to News Desks:
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April 21st 2011