Brothers and Sisters:
This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it! Easter is the most important event on the church’s liturgical calendar. It is the primary festival of Christians, “the royal feast of feasts.” According to Massey Shepherd, “The fifty days from Easter to Pentecost was the only festival observed by the universal Church during the first three centuries. The period was a continuous season of joy in the wondrous events of our redemption through our Lord’s Passion, Resurrection, Ascension and Gift of the Holy Spirit.” Luke tells us in Acts that after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. For them, this message of the resurrection of Jesus was the good news of hope for the world.
Jesus had come into the world to bring salvation to humankind and the whole created order. He had offered up his life on the cross at Calvary to free people from their sins. He had been buried in a tomb by a highly respected member of the Jewish council. But then the news began to spread that he was no longer dead, for he had been raised to life by the mighty power of God. This news seemed at first to be no more than a rumour spread by some faithful believing women, but was later confirmed to be true by all the apostles on the grounds that all of them had seen the Risen Christ for themselves.
Easter, for each of them, was an encounter with the Resurrected Lord Jesus, whom they had met in a variety of settings, which included the seashore at Galilee, the Upper Room, and the Road to Emmaus. These meetings brought back memories of the earlier encounters they had with Jesus during his ministry, and even though they had failed him in the end, Jesus made it clear to them that they were now fully accepted, forgiven and restored, and must move on with the mission that he was committing to them. In the coming weeks we will have the opportunity to examine some of these encounters in greater detail.
What we must understand clearly now, however, is that for our Easter celebration to be full of meaning, it must be more than a great worship event, with good numbers, good music, good singing, good dancing, good preaching, good fellowship and a good collection. It must be above all a living encounter with the Risen Saviour, who will transform us into Easter People bearing a message of hope to a world in despair, and who has promised to be with us always to the very end of the age.
Have a ‘wonder-full’ Easter.