I wonder what your favourite part of Easter is. Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, family meals, a longer holiday. For me it is the Easter morning services in Church rejoicing at Jesus resurrection with other Christians singing glorious Easter hymns loudly (If not always in tune on my part!)
Sadly we won’t be able to do many of these things this Easter but the message of hope remains the same.
The first Easter was a frightening and confusing time for the disciples. Jesus had been arrested and crucified and they must have wondered if they would be next to be arrested. Their hope and expectations of what Jesus would become as a leader were shattered. They really did not know what to do with themselves.
These days are a bit like that for us too. There is the fear of this unseen virus and we are avoiding each other – even crossing the street when we meet someone coming the other way. In ordinary times that would be considered rude. Shopping too becomes problematic.
Earlier this year we went on a Diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There were many memorable events but on the last morning we visited the “Garden tomb” which is probably not where Jesus was buried but is more like what it might have been like than other sites.
As we were quietly wandering through the garden a local Arabic man approached us and said “I am the Gardner here, Can I help you?” That brought a shiver down my spine and almost tears to my eyes as I remembered that on the first Easter morning when Mary went early to the tomb and found it empty when she had expected to dress Jesus body. She was weeping outside the tomb and saw a man approaching who she thought was the gardener who asked her “Woman why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for” She replied “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him” Jesus just replied “Mary” and she recognised him.
The modern day gardener was a lovely gentle man who was keen to help but unfortunately did not speak much English.
Today we can’t see the risen Jesus any more than we can see the Covid19 virus but we can see him working through and in people in our church and in our community. “Who or what is it you are looking for?” He still asks us today.
There remains a sense that we, the church people, are the visible appearance of the risen Jesus today in our community and in the world. These days we have to express this in different ways with zoom meetings and online services but also by phoning each other and those who are isolated and in practical terms collecting shopping medicines etc .
May you know the joy and hope of Easter again this year – even if it is expressed differently?
Jesus Christ is Risen indeed Hallelujah!
Dr Andrew Barclay is a reader at St Martin’s Church and lives in the parish. In the last few years he retired as a GP in Coventry but has been volunteering helping at Mvumi Hospital in Tanzania.