The Rt Revd Dr Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby has released his annual Easter Message today via the diocesan website www.derby.aglican.org. The full message is shown below:
What is Easter? To most of us Easter is an event. A day, a moment in time. We send cards saying ‘Happy Easter’. It is a moment of optimism. The time when the signs of Spring seem stronger. Thus the custom of wearing Easter bonnets – something I encourage at the Cathedral on Easter morning!
For many people Easter is a holiday event. A space to relax, see family and friends. For children (and others too!) it is a time for chocolate eggs.
All these things illuminate the core Christian message that new life can come out of suffering and death. That darkness will be overcome by light. A message and a moment of optimism, hope – in a world where there are many signs of stress, struggle, decay and death. The human heart has a deep instinct to hope – whatever the circumstances. Easter can be seen as THE event which confirms and blesses that instinct to hope – for life beyond death, for healing from suffering, for light out of darkness.
Christians see this hope acted out in Jesus Christ. Raised from the dead. Sign of a new and everlasting life – for which every human creature is made. This is Good News for a troubled world. Bells ring out to celebrate the event of Easter. Resurrection against the odds. A gift, beyond our making.
BUT – Easter is not just an event. More, Easter is a process. The Christian understanding of Easter flows through a powerful sequence. Maundy Thursday: a supper with friends. Good Friday: betrayal, torture, death. Holy Saturday: a space of waiting while hope struggles with despair and light seems to be extinguished by darkness. Easter Sunday: Jesus risen from the tomb, hope and light in triumph – not simply in this world, but as ingredients of a glory beyond our little universe.
This is the process of Easter. It is a process that each of us inhabits day by day. Celebration, stress, suffering, hope that holds on, new light. We find ourselves at different points on the spectrum. That complexity is the reality of the human condition.
The Christian gospel points to a Person who shows us how to navigate each stage of this re-occurring sequence. A Person whose Resurrection from the dead is the supreme sign of the triumph of hope and light in glory. That is why the Easter Process is the foundation of the only news that can assure goodness in our world. And it is why Christians celebrate this process with an event: in remembrance of Him. From the remembering issues the empowering with that spirit of wholeness we know as Holy. The source of Easter hope and joy for all who would recognise and receive it.
I wish you a happy Easter – as event: as process: as good news.