Do you remember the Saturday morning children’s TV program called ‘Swap Shop’? The simple and fun idea was that you brought onto the show the toys you no longer wanted and you swapped them for those that you did and everyone went away happy! The program has of course long gone, but it has been great to see the idea grow in lots of other ways, for example with car boot sales, the rise of charity shops to help raise money for good causes, and of course e-bay! Exchanging what we don’t want for what we do is good idea (and vice versa for others) and of course it helps reduce our consumerism and to look after the environment.
But what has this to do with Easter which will be upon us again in the middle of the month? Well the idea of ‘swapping or exchanging’ is the key message at heart of the Easter, where 2000 years ago, over the first Good Friday and Easter Day, the biggest swap of all time took place. Christians could have chosen all sorts of things as a symbol of their faith: a manger to remind them of Jesus birth; a scroll for Jesus teaching; a lamp to show that Jesus life was amazing; it could even have been an empty tomb for his resurrection, but instead, Christians have The Cross, because it represents the very heart of the Easter message. Good Friday has been called good, because it is the Good News of the swap offer that God has made to every human being who would like to receive it: Salvation swapped for our Sin. The benefits? We receive forgiveness instead of guilt; eternal life instead of death; the kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of the world; light in our life instead of darkness; actually knowing God instead of just knowing about him; and lots more besides!
How such a swap possible when the rubbish of what we bring if of no worth compared to the riches of what God offers? The bible tells us that on the cross, Jesus God’s son, paid the price on our behalf: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become righteous before God.” 2 Corinthians 5v21. How can a person benefit from this Easter offer? We can’t go straight to Easter Day, but each of us need to go via The Cross of Good Friday (to get rid of our Sin and rubbish) so that we are then free to receive the resurrection life of Easter Day. So, this month, my hope is that you might take up this wonderful offer of a swap that God has made.
With my prayers for April and Easter.
James – Rector of St Peters with Blessed Mary
1st April 2017