This will be the first Easter in three years that we’re able in Jubilee to gather together to celebrate. Obviously we met online and last year some of our young people led us so excellently (even if as part of it I had to do a challenge to eat (blindfolded) as many Creme Eggs as possible, including a chocolate covered real egg! I can still taste the chocolate and the egg as it mixed in my mouth...believe me, they don't go well together!).
As we get together this weekend we’ll be celebrating the most amazing event in world history. The event that changes everything.
At a family wedding recently I was chatting with someone about spiritual things and what we both believed. We talked about different views of life and death and he expressed the idea that they were pretty much all equally valid as they all had some truth to them. I tried to explain that for me, the resurrection changed everything. If Jesus was raised from the dead after being humiliated, flogged, beaten, marched through the city, crucified and then buried in a tomb, then I could believe what he said and his offer of new life in him.
The view of my friend at the wedding is fairly common around us. Every belief is valid, so you just have to choose the one that suits you. The other common view is that nothing spiritual can exist and only the physical matters. I read a fascinating story this week that really resonated with me, given its location and all that is happening in Ukraine at the moment.
In the early 1920s a Communist Leader, Nikolai Bukharin, was sent from Moscow in Russia to Kiev in Ukraine to speak at an anti-God rally. The Soviet Union saw Christianity as weak and foolish and they did much to try to snuff it out (as they did most faiths). Here was a powerful leader from one of the world’s most powerful nations, ridiculing the Christian faith for an hour in front of a huge crowd. It’s unclear why, but after this, an Orthodox Church priest was allowed to address the crowd. He climbed onto the stage, turned to face the crowd and gave the traditional Orthodox Easter greeting, ‘He is risen!’. Instantly the crowd rose to its feet and replied loudly as if they were in one of their church services ‘He is risen indeed!’1
It was this message that enabled millions of Christians in the Soviet Union to persevere under persecution. It’s the message that enables many to persevere under persecution in nations today, some who are represented in our church family. It’s this message that we celebrate this Easter Sunday, as we do every day.
We really do have ‘Joy News’ Jubilee! We can celebrate together, serve those around us, care for the poor and marginalised, run Alpha, disciple our children and young people and do all we do, because of this news. Jesus is alive. There is hope. Death did not win. Jesus did! His mission of bringing people back to God as his kingdom advances, carries on and we have the privilege of playing our part in it as we bring the Joy News of Jesus to Everyone Everywhere!
1. Referenced in 'The Drama of Scripture' by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen
Watching my children sing and dance along to their favourite worship song taught me a couple of lessons about joy and faith. Jesus also had a lot of say about having childlike fath when teaching his disciples in Luke 18.
This will be the first Easter in three years that we’re able in Jubilee to gather together to celebrate, and the Easter message is still as powerful as it was 2,000 years ago!
Starting on Tuesday 15th March we are committing a whole month to prayer. Prayer has always been the bedrock of a Christian life with God. Prayer is what unites us to God in the here and now. Through prayer we experience the friendship and lordship of God through His Word and Spirit. In prayer we come to all three persons of our One Majestic God.