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Easter Day 12 April 2020
In May 2018, Denise and I visited Israel and were blessed by our visit to the
“Garden tomb”. No-one knows for sure if this was the place where Jesus’ body
was buried after it was taken down from the cross that first Good Friday. For us
it was very special as we entered a beautifully kept walled garden. One of the
walls consists of a vertical rock face, about ten metres high. At the base of the
wall is a doorway carved into the stone like a cave entrance. As I stooped to
step inside this entrance I found a space, approximately the size of a two metre
cube. It was a very exciting experience to look around an ancient tomb with
nothing in it!
We can all envisage the events of that first Easter Day when Mary saw the risen
Lord and mistook him for the gardener.(John 20). As soon as Jesus speaks to
Mary, she recognises Jesus. Her life is transformed and she rushes off to spread
the good news. Today, all over the world Christians celebrate this wonderful
news.Yet in 2020 we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic and
many are fearful and anxious as death hits the headlines. As Christians, I hope
that we can take to heart the message of Jesus to the disciples that first Easter
Day: “Peace be with you!”.
Especially here in the UK, death has been a hidden subject, a taboo subject, for
a long time. Death, that has been previously swept under the carpet, is suddenly
all around us. This is very alarming for many people, and most people are
experiencing the fear of death. I can remember the first few funerals I took
after being ordained. It was hard because I’d had little acquaintance with death
during the first thirty years of my life. Over years in ministry, I have come to
understand just how powerful and painful death is for those who have lost
precious friends and family members.
As Christians we believe that God is more powerful than death. When God
raised Jesus from life to death, God showed that He is more powerful than
death. Jesus is uniquely qualified to talk about matters of life and death and
teaches “ I am the resurrection and the life”. In other words, Jesus Himself has
broken the power of death in our lives. Our fear of death subsides in the
presence of Jesus. We may not fully understand all that Jesus has done, but I
hope that we can all experience the peace of Jesus, even in the face of death.
May we, once again this Easter, know in our hearts and minds the peace of
Jesus Christ. Jesus says to us “Peace be with you!”
Rev Mick Norman Rector