Easter Sunday thoughts
[Adapted from a short talk shared with the Bear Church, Deptford for the family service on Easter Sunday 17th April 2022]
Good morning, and a very happy Easter to you!
Did you get any Easter eggs this morning? I do hope the Easter bunny stopped by your house.
Now, maybe I’ve misremembered but I don’t recall the Easter bunny being at the last supper? Or being mentioned on Palm Sunday, or in what happened on Good Friday – in fact I’d go as far as to say I don’t think the Easter Bunny isn’t featured in the bible at all. Unless of course the disciple Peter actually wore a little blue jacket and had a fluffy tail…
But we celebrate with eggs and bunnies because Easter is also a celebration of spring, from a very old Anglo-Saxon festival where we said goodbye to the cold months, and welcomed in a new season of growth with longer days, more sunshine and the right conditions for many animals to birth new life once the cold, harsh winter has past. Animals that have been hibernating through the tough season of winter, just trying to stay alive, can now re-enter the world at a time where there is more food to be found and better conditions to thrive.
These ideas of new beginnings, birth and re-birth into the world, speak of hope, new life and a fresh start – and that is a theme Christians celebrate when we mark the day of resurrection. Jesus came back to life, defeated death and through his sacrifice on the cross he enabled us to have a fresh start in our relationship with God. Like spring melting through the icy winter, a new season arrives, whatever has gone before it even if, and when, the worst has happened.
For us mortals, death is a final end, the very end of our physical selves and the very end of the time we have on earth with those we love. To the disciples Jesus dying was the worst most despairing end that could happen and yet… And yet it wasn’t the end. There was rebirth, there was still hope, there was a new season to come and a fresh start for all of us eternally.
When I think of the idea of “a fresh start”, I think of a renovation (mostly because I love watching DIY programs!). Often the job involves sanding it all down, filling in the cracks, putting on primer, and then starting again from scratch, without a hint of what’s gone before. And in some ways, our fresh start is like starting from scratch because our sins have been paid for by Jesus and our slate wiped clean as if it were brand new.
However, I think that this fresh start doesn't rewind time, but begins from where you are now. In the mess, in the wake of something disastrous that still doesn’t make sense, in the state of confusion as we’ve just read from Luke Chapter 24 where Peter is scratching his [long] ears wondering what has happened. It starts from the sleepy hungry stupor of the animals waking up from hibernation. That is where our fresh start happens.
This rebirth doesn’t go back in time, it can't be do-over. This fresh start isn't a “New years’ resolution” style January endeavour but a pure, cost-free gift because someone else has paid the price. It was Jesus' sweat, blood and tears that did this renovation and we get to accept His pure gift of love from exactly where we are, right now.
Today as we celebrate that seismic event in history, the shift that makes all the difference in our Christian faith, I’d like to encourage you to take this opportunity to accept this fresh start. Allow spring to wake us up from our hungry hibernation, where perhaps we have reached the end of our stores or the end of ourselves, and embrace a new season of hope, light, life... And chocolate.
Father God, thank you for the gift of Easter, for the sacrifice Jesus made for us, for the fresh start we can have with you, every day. Thank you for meeting us exactly where we are. We ask your Holy Spirit to stir our hearts this morning, to fill us with joy and optimism as we celebrate you on this Easter Sunday. Amen.