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Rev Dave’s Easter Message 2020

I usually approach Easter with a sense of wonder and awe and great excitement. It is my favourite time of year. The garden is starting to come back to life, the birds are starting to nest and the weather is brightening up. But this year Lent in particular seems to have passed by and the normal level of excitement about Easter Sunday has in some ways been replaced with a sense of loss and trepidation. On Ash Wednesday we weren’t even thinking about Coronavirus, at that point it was something that was happening in China and was a bit of a concern. Who really contemplated that just over a month later we too would be confined to our homes, split apart from family and friends and our church buildings closed? This will be the first Easter Sunday ever for many, and certainly for me, where we won’t be celebrating our Lord’s resurrection in a church service with the church family around us.

Over the last few weeks we have found different ways in which to communicate with each other, and we as the church have suddenly found ourselves pushed out and online. At the beginning of March I’d never heard of ‘Zoom’, now it is a key part of my ministry and of many others. If not ‘Zoom’ then ‘Microsoft teams’ or ‘Messenger’. I was reflecting with my Home Group yesterday that although Lent seems to have passed by I have in fact found myself engaging with all sorts of different types of worship and reflections online, from other churches and sources, certainly more so than I ever would have. To see my colleagues and the wider national church embracing this new way of doing ministry has been heartening and for me although not in church I do feel much closer to God than perhaps I have done through other periods of Lent. The enforcement of closed buildings has perhaps pushed I, and the wider church, to reach out in new ways. I hope in the long run we will not forget the lessons we have learned and continue some of these practices when life starts to return to something more ‘normal’.

As Jesus emerges from the tomb he has a poignant encounter with Mary Magdalene. With her eyes full of tears and with a heavy heart, she asks impatiently where they have taken her Lord. There her eyesight (and insight) is restored as Jesus calls her by name and she recognises that he is risen from the dead. Mary and the disciples, because of Jesus resurrection are pushed to new ways of engaging with Jesus, each other and the wider world. Their new ‘normal’ is now with a risen Lord who has beaten death, who has fulfilled his purpose. It just remains for Jesus to pass on some final instructions, to make clear that forgiveness has come and then the new mission is given and the baton passed onto the disciples and followers of Jesus. Leaving behind the way they had been before his death, these disciples emerged a stronger, more resilient band of believers. Encountering new ways of telling the gospel, not just in Jerusalem or Israel but to the ends of the earth. To all peoples and all nations, making disciples and baptising them in the name of the Lord.

Yes we will be having a very different Easter to any that we have encountered before but maybe that also brings new opportunities. Our sunrise service will be broadcast live from the Vicarage garden, perhaps more will tune in than would ever come to church that early on a Sunday morning. Our Easter Sunday service will be available on Facebook and Youtube, the Good News message of Jesus resurrection and saving grace available to many more than ever before. Rather than dwell on what has gone before, perhaps like Mary, and the disciples, we need to embrace the new ‘normal’, pick ourselves up and venture out in this bright new world ahead of us proclaiming the Good News of Jesus, in any way we can, and know soon we will once again be able to join together as God’s family. Stronger, more resilient and ready to embrace new ways of sharing God’s love and peace in our community as we introduce people to Jesus.

So amidst all the worry and stress of this time, which will come to an end, may I wish you all a wonderful and inspiring Easter.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen He is risen indeed, Alleluia!