This most holy of days has always involved telling the story of the first Easter and as Christians we have often done this with objects and images.
Traditionally we might have made an Easter Garden, Eaten one (or twenty) Hot Cross Buns, Indulged in a few Easter Eggs and lit our Paschal (Easter) Candle at the first service of Easter morning.
But 2020 and now 2021 have not been at all traditional, not normal in any way!
Last year our doors were locked, we were facing a new and unknown virus without treatment or vaccine, we stayed Home to protect the NHS, ourselves and our loved ones.
This year we have treatments and vaccines but it is not yet over and the many necessary restrictions mean this is not a normal Easter either!
But… as Christians we believe that God is with us, in Good years and in Bad.
As I was thinking about preaching this Easter I wondered – what from this last two years can tell me something of the meaning of Easter?
What about Toilet Roll, Sanitizer and Face Covering?
Do you remember when you couldn’t buy them anywhere? Bare shelves with just the labels? But Why? Why did people over buy Toilet roll (or indeed anything else)?
Perhaps the answer lies in three things: Fear, Effect of the Crowd and Self-protection. This is reflected in the story of Easter also. We see the effect of a crowd, stirred up to shout ‘Crucify Him’ carried along with everyone else. We see Fear in the disciples who ran away, full of fear, they seek to protect themselves by hiding (or lying) for they are afraid.
Of course we have been used to this now for over a year, it takes away the virus, makes us clean, we use it to care for ourselves and for others.
The story of Good Friday is the story of Jesus, 100% God, giving himself to clean away the things we get wrong, all that is harmful, our sin, when we experience this cleansing love of Jesus for us we car about ourselves because we understand how valuable we are to God. We care about others because we understand that Jesus loves us and we share that love as we love others.
The story of Easter morning begins with a covering.
As the women go to the grave they are worried… who will roll the stone away for them? When they get there they discover there is no covering! The grave is open and Jesus is alive. How many times have you had a conversation where you, or others, have longed for the day when we can speak without a face covering, a day when we can see the full smile on another person’s face, a day when there is no barrier between us? So it was on that first Easter morning. The women were wanting to get to Jesus, they thought they were going to care for his dead body, yet when they arrived there was no barrier but also no body, Jesus was not dead, Jesus was alive and so a whole new life could begin. Jesus friends, including us, could be friends with God because there was no barrier. Like being able to see the full smile of God because the covering has been taken away – what Joy!
Joy – brings me back to our rather more traditional symbols of Easter.
Party Poppers (traditional for us in Billesdon)
Traditionally it should be bells at the sound of the Gloria on Easter Day, we don’t have enough bells so Party Poppers have been used for most of the last 10 years to celebrate that song on Easter morning about how Glorious God is and how much God loves us.
Traditional all round, chocolate eggs, now the Government guidance says food can only be shared if it is “essential” to worship so we can’t eat Easter Egg together like we normally would, but, Easter Eggs remind us of the Joy and New Life of Jesus.
In a good year or a bad year, whether we are happy or sad, the Good news of God’s Love is the same. God Loves us and we love one another. Thanks to the Cross and Resurrection there are no barriers, we are washed clean and God’s perfect Love casts out Fear.
So this Easter lets celebrate with Joy the same old story – told in traditional ways and new ways – in good times and in bad.
God loves us so much the Jesus left heaven lived, died and came back to life so that we might know God’s Love.