April 20th

When I was minister in Harrow, I regularly took assemblies in the local schools. Just before one Easter I visited a Middle School and tried to explain the meaning of the festival. Afterwards as I was walking across the playground a little boy ran up to me and said “Is it true? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” I replied “Oh yes.” Then he said “But that’s not possible, dead people don’t come back!” And in those few words, he expressed the incredulity with which so many people face the resurrection.

In these uncertain days our faith is tempered by uneasiness, bewilderment and doubt. We are one with the first disciples, because the gospel stories are not accounts of immediate and complete belief, but rather of wrestling with uncertainty before a resurrection faith is discovered.

We need to move from evidence to experience. We are concerned about finding a way through the cynicism and despair that robs life of any value or worth. That Christ faced evil and sin and death and overcame them is interesting but it is only relevant to us if his victory can help us to be victorious over the very same things. The risen Christ of history must become the Christ of the here and now. These days we may not be able to gather physically together but thanks to the wonders of modern virtual technology, we can hear and read the testimony of the eye-witnesses, we can meet the evidence of the age-long faith of the church, faith vindicated by centuries of experience. Our faith is awakened, the awesome nature of what God has done in Christ dawns on us in a sublime, glorious moment and we want to share that good news with everyone. “It is true!” “The Lord is risen!”

Peter Webb