I don’t know about you, but it is hard to believe that we have now arrived at a second Easter in this Covid pandemic time. Last Easter, we could not have imagined it was just the start of such a long year in which we have had to persevere, and whilst we might not yet be at the end, it feels to me that this Easter we are at least at the start of the beginning of a better time ahead. Countries are at different points in their battle against Covid, but there is now increasing hope as the production Vaccines increases. A good prayer for Easter 2022, would be that all countries around the world might have by then the Vaccines they need for life to get back to normal.
When life is hard, having HOPE of the future being different….it is so important isn’t it. We human beings can weather much in life, and go through great hardships, as long as there is hope of a better future.
So what do Christians believe about hope? Christians are people who believe in hope for this life like everyone else as we often pray in the Lord’s Prayer ‘your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’. We want to play our part in making a difference in the here and now: saving life, protecting life and bringing about a better life.
The message of Christmas is this kind of hope. It is a message of hope in the here and now where we believe God became human (what we call the ‘incarnation’) and who modelled the best kind of life for us to follow to make a difference: he healed the sick, he had power over nature, he cast out evil from people, he gave the most amazing teaching and he forgave people.
And what hope does Easter offer? Despite Jesus’ life coming to a premature end, it turned out not to be the end at all, but the start of a new beginning for Jesus and us…..a new kind of life on offer now and going on forever whatever happens in this life. The message of Easter is of forgiveness of anything we have ever done wrong and then a new life with ourselves, with God and all those around us. The new testament letter of 1 Peter puts it like this:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…..though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
So this Easter, whilst we might not yet be able to celebrate as we might in a normal year, the message of Easter gives us a real and ultimate hope for the future and on which we can rely. As we travel into the coming weeks and months, and in a world that will never be completely certain, I hope you will be able to know this Easter hope for yourself and your families.
With Blessings and Prayers for Easter and April
Revd James Hunt – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham with Blessed Mary, Upham
30th March 2021