Easter Joy

 A selection of Meditations for Easter

                                                                        Easter Peace

                                                                          By Revd. Tony Miles


On the evening of that first day of the week, Jesus came and stood among them and said “peace be with you!”   John 20:19

 Easter is more than eggs. Christians rejoice that Jesus conquered death by rising from the grave. God hadn’t abandoned His only Son, but kept His promises, gloriously defeating evil, wrongdoing, and death.

 Too good to be true? Well, perhaps that’s what the disciples thought! Picture them on that first Easter evening: bewildered, shocked and fearfully huddled together—despite Jesus’ appearance to a few early that morning.

 They were uncertain, behind locked doors, and hiding from the Jews and soldiers who might arrest them. Knowing this, the risen Jesus came to their hideaway and greeted them reassuringly: “Peace be with you” (the word ’shalom’ means ’a deep inner harmony’). He doesn’t chastise them for being frightened or faithless just before His death. He understands!

 May be today you are feeling worried, or insecure, or even frightened of death. Whatever your retreat for shelter or security, I pray Jesus will break through into your experience and stand alongside you.

 He’s alive and He’s concerned for your well-being now and eternally. Let Him set you free from anything that imprisons you, transforming your darkness and fear to His light and hope and peace.

                                   Prayer: Risen Lord, may the reality and truth of the
                                    resurrection dawn in my heart, that I may possess peace
                                                 with the assurance of eternal life. Amen.


                                                     Time to Move On

                                                                         By Revd. David Spriggs

 Some Greeks were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival. They went to Philip (he was from Bethsaida in Galilee) and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew, and the two of them went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has now come for the Son of Man to receive great glory.

 We know it’s time to drive on when the traffic lights change from red to green. We know it’s time to pick up our bags when we are told that the next train to arrive is the one we want. But how do we know when it’s time to change our car or job, or our role in the church?

 Jesus knew there would be a great change in His ministry, when He would move from teaching the crowds and healing the sick, to preparing the disciples for His death and then enduring crucifixion. But how would He know when it was the right time? He could have let events overtake Him. But that was not God’s way.

 Somehow, the news that ‘Greeks’ were seeking for Him was the trigger! He knew that He had come to bring salvation to all people, and now God was sending people who represented the nations to look for Him.

 Part of what the Son of Man being ‘glorified’ means, is that people were recognising more clearly who Jesus was and were getting ready to openly acknowledge this as the ‘Greeks’ were doing. But the bigger part is that it means He would be crucified. If we are struggling to know when to make a significant change to our lives and work for God, we can be open to God’s guidance through other people, as Jesus was.

  Prayer Thank You, living God, that you are big enough to guide us and help us with our difficult choices. 
                                                        Help me to be open to Your presence today.   Amen.


                                                Who Moved the Stone?

                                       Revd. Tony Horsfall

 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.’  Mark 16:4

 Frank Morrison was an investigative journalist who was a sceptic when it came to religion. He decided to write a book to disprove the claims of Christ, specifically focussed on the last week of His life.

 However, when he came to consider the evidence for himself, he was drawn reluctantly to a different outcome than he had imagined. He found that the evidence proved the story to be true, including the fact that Jesus not only died but rose again. In the end he wrote a different kind of book called Who Moved the Stone? with the first chapter entitled, ‘The book that refused to be written.’

 The veracity of the Christian faith is grounded on historical fact. Not only was Jesus a real person, a figure of history, but His death was real, and so was His resurrection. Examine the evidence for yourself. Read the gospel accounts openly and honestly and see what happens. The truth is there for anyone willing to consider the facts.

 Easter reminds us that our faith rests on solid ground. It is why we celebrate Easter Sunday with such gusto. The Resurrection proves that Jesus was who He said He was (the Son of God) and that He did what He set out to do (save us from our sin). But more than that, it reminds us that He can deliver what He promised and help us today because He is alive for evermore.

 Jesus is not a figure of history, locked away in the past. No, He is a risen Saviour who is alive today and who invites each of us to receive the gift of salvation, and to live a new life in fellowship with Him.


                                        Why Easter will never go away

 How do you make sense of the Resurrection? Dead men don’t rise, so why believe that this particular dead man did rise?

 At the end of St Luke’s gospel we read that: “they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement” (Luke 24.4). This is highly significant. The Gospels do not show us a group of disciples who were in a receptive frame of mind. After the crucifixion, they were in hiding, frightened and scattered. Then suddenly, they came out of hiding and were totally different; excited, joyful.  By Pentecost they were confident, with one firm message: ‘You crucified Jesus, but God raised Him up!’ 

 How did they know this? Because of direct personal experience. Some of them had visited the tomb of Jesus: it was empty. Others claimed to have seen and touched the risen Lord. Were they hallucinating? People can hallucinate in groups – when taking drugs, for example. But of course, each one will see a different hallucination. But the disciples all saw the same thing. Or rather, the same person.  Jesus.

 Were they lying? Jesus had died a humiliating death as a criminal. Perhaps they wanted to rescue His good name. So, did they pretend they had seen Him? 

 This theory has a big problem. Their preaching led them into trouble with the authorities. They were beaten and imprisoned and some of them killed. People will die for ideas and causes which they believe in passionately. But not for things they have made up.  We might suffer for our convictions, but we will not suffer for our inventions.

 What about the ‘swoon’ theory? That Jesus didn’t die on the cross, despite terrible wounds? That He recovered in the tomb, and then escaped? That the disciples nursed Him back to health? But Roman soldiers knew when a man was dead; and there was the guard on the tomb. Also, the events which followed simply don’t fit. If the disciples had been hiding Jesus all along, they would have kept very low-key, and out of the way, so that the authorities did not come after Him again.

 Besides, to preach that God had raised Jesus from the dead – which is exactly what they did preach – would have been a lie. Beatings and threat of death would soon have loosened their tongues. Inventions crumble under pressure; convictions hold fast.

 Another reason for believing in the Resurrection is this: Jesus’ continuing impact.  Thousands and soon millions of people in every generation since have shared an inescapable sense of being ‘accompanied’ through life. Though unseen, they identify this presence as the Risen Lord.

 Sometimes this experience of meeting Jesus is gentle and fitful. Sometimes it is dramatic and life changing. This reminds us that the resurrection of Jesus is not just an interesting historical puzzle.  It is a vital, present day reality. It brings wonderful comfort, assuring us of the central Christian truths: death is dead; Jesus is alive; God is love.

 This central notion was captured, most movingly, by the great Albert Schweitzer: ‘He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word: “Follow thou me,” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfil for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the suffering which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who He is.’

 Have a joyful – and a challenging – Easter.