What does Easter mean to you? Easter eggs? Fluffy chickens? Daffodils? The decorated Lent Cross? These are some of the pictures that many of us would associate with Easter - symbols, in different ways, of new life and new beginnings. One of the recent news stories has been from the Middle East and the war in Syria. From there we have seen upsetting pictures; images of death, bereaved people weeping, families separated, not knowing if they will meet again, wondering what the future holds for them. In other parts of the world people also suffer as they are affected by either drought or famine as the world climate becomes more unpredictable.
We do not live our lives in a vacuum. We are all affected by the things that happen in different parts of the world. One important way our lives are touched is through our relationships; within our family, at work, within the village community, at Church. Each of our lives is influenced by the relationships we have with other people. This is true, not only of our local communities, but in a similar way, within the community of nations that make up the world.
One of the messages of the Easter story is that where people are sad and distressed there can be reconciliation and healing. We worship a God who is ready to associate with human suffering, to endure what we have endured to the extent of allowing humankind to kill him on a cross. But God has taken this symbol of disgrace and transformed it into a sign for reconciliation; a sign for peace between people and between people and God. The disciple Peter discovered the truth of this when Jesus "took him on again" after his resurrection, even though he had denied that he had ever known Jesus.
There are, in this country, several places which are known as ‘Cross of Nails’ centres. One of the best known is at Coventry Cathedral, which was re-built after the last world war and has endeavoured to become a place of God's peace. One of the ways this has been shown is in the way that they have sought reconciliation with Dresden, a German city which was also very badly bombed. St Paul, writing to 1st century Christians wrote:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (2 Corinthians 5: 17-18.)
One of the world's most pressing needs is for peace; peace in the home, peace within local communities and peace between different countries. This can only begin to come about when people are prepared to let their old selves die and let the love of Christ become the dominant force in their lives.
With best wishes,