The Spirit of Easter: Trust and Hope

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

This letter will be published on Mothering Sunday – the morning after the clocks go forward one hour. Hopefully the negative aspect of losing an hour’s sleep will be outweighed by the obvious benefits of lighter evenings.

Before we know it we will enter Passiontide and Holy Week with all the attendant concentration on Christ’s suffering and death. But then, at the end of the month, will come the glorious celebration of Easter with the wonderful message that the same suffering Christ has risen and overcome death and the grave.

There is no doubt that life is a balancing act: holding together a whole variety of disappointments and worries alongside reasons for happiness and celebration. At times the disappointments may outweigh the reasons for happiness and, at other times, the balance will be reversed.

In all this, Christians are called upon to live their lives – both as individuals and as a church – with trust and with hope. It always fills me with amazement when I consider how Jesus’ followers must have felt as the events of his last week, culminating in his crucifixion and death unfolded. They had no knowledge that, in a few short days, their darkness would be transformed into the light of resurrection.

We, on the other hand, know, even in darkest days, that, ultimately, the light will overcome the darkness. Many of us also know that the true strength of the light is better appreciated after the experience of acute darkness.

There is much that is dark in our world at the present time. Indiscriminate stabbings seem to put little or no value on human life; natural disasters like that in Zimbabwe and Mozambique devastate whole nations and the mass shootings in Christchurch New Zealand, at the hand of one man, leave us reeling.

Many are asking what can be done. How should seemingly ordinary Christian folk respond to the darkness and suffering which seems to be permeating so many aspects of everyday life?

The answer is not a new one. It is, I would suggest, to continue to trust and hope. To trust that the vast majority of humanity are good, honest and upright citizens – and to continue to faithfully trust in the God who aches with us in our pain and despair just as much as he rejoices with us when we have reason to celebrate. And to hope. When we hope for something we wait for it through patience. Longed-for beneficial outcomes rarely happen without continuing effort and the faithful holding of our hopes before God.

So, as we journey through Passiontide and Holy Week we must brace ourselves for the harrowing experience of hearing again the sufferings of the Son of God. But we do so in the knowledge that, through the Easter story, good did triumph over evil.

That same spirit of Easter is available for all of us – even in Alnwick in 2019. Indeed, it is what will turn darkness into light.

With every blessing,

Paul.

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