This is it! The story is reaching its climax. The music is swelling and the songs ofSALVATION are filling the air. The servant King is coming to overthrow the prince of the world and to establish his kingdom in its place. The battle will be fierce. The blows will be great. The anger expressed will be violent. And Jesus will take it all, absorb it all, hold it all. By his stripes we are healed. This is our week. Celebration week. Freedom week. This is the week the Lord of the Dance breaks us free from the powers and principalities that ruin and destroy our lives each day. We join the singing crowd. We join the disciples on the way to the last supper. We watch with the women as Jesus is lifted up on the cross. We weep with Mary, run with Peter, walk with the two on the way to Emmaus, wonder with Thomas, and hear the words of Jesus once again. “I have overcome the world!” What a week! What a story! Unmissable! Totally life changing.
This is the week! This is it! But, if truth be told, for most of our friends, family and neighbours, and for many even within our churches Easter is just a holiday – a chance to take a break from work, enjoy a bank holiday and have a good meal or two. For us, however, this is the best week in the year, the climax of the Christian story and hope, the source of our life, the pivot point of all history. I love Easter but I know that, just as it is for so many others, it will be hard for me to make the most of it. If I am not careful and intentional the week will pass me by before I even know it. I’ll have missed out on reflecting on the last supper on Thursday, have struggled to engage with the story of the Cross on Good Friday and find myself at Easter Sunday unprepared and trying my best to sum up enthusiasm for what I know ought to be the best celebration of the year – the day we celebrate the crushing of the serpent’s head, the defeat of death and the world’s liberation from sin.
I know – because I’ve missed out on it before – gone through the motions – pretended.
But I don’t want it to be like this. I want to feel the story, see it, imagine it, eat it, drink it in. And I really do pray and hope that everyone in our churches, right across the city, will do the same.
There are just over 3,300 church ‘members’ across the deanery. Each one of these has been called and gifted by God to be part of the good news story and to share this story with the other 75-80,000 that currently don’t know Jesus and his rescuing power. My prayer this Easter is that every one of our people will know this more powerfully than ever before. There are areas of our city and suburbs where the church is strong and growing and there are others where the church is stagnant or declining. And we know that we are hard pressed on every side. But we not crushed, despairing, abandoned or destroyed. We live in Christ and we seek the power of his resurrection.
This Easter, as we journey to the cross and the resurrection once again, may God revive and empower his church in our City. May he give courage where we are fearful and hope where we are almost giving up. May he prune that which needs leaving behind and may he nourish and restore where we need new life. May he protect that which is threatened and weak and may he deliver that which is oppressed.
Have confidence in your message this Easter. Love it. Live it. Sing it. Demonstrate it. And may we see hundreds of people become disciples of Jesus and our whole city transformed by God’s loving rule.