Easter invokes grand themes

“The way of the cross is also the way of true life,” writes Moderator Rev David Fotheringham.

The Easter period, moving from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, takes us through the grand themes of death and resurrection, cross and hope.

Earlier in Lent when we heard the stories of Jesus telling his disciples that he was going to suffer, be rejected, killed, and after three days, rise again, we also heard Peter taking him aside and rebuking him (Mark 8:31-33).

Peter had only just declared that Jesus was the Messiah, and presumably could not make sense of the idea that the Messiah of God would suffer and be killed.

Later, confronted with the news of Jesus’ resurrection and the experience of his appearances, Jesus’ joy-filled disciples had to work out what to make of that.

The “good news” that Jesus had been proclaiming was not limited by his death.

Christian disciples ever since have been grappling with both of these key themes: death and resurrection, cross and hope. God meets us in both.

As I’m preparing this column for the Easter edition of Crosslight, I’m very conscious that many things could happen in the world between the time I write and the time that this is published.

Whatever the circumstances may be, though, the reality and significance of both cross and hope, death and resurrection will be important.

These elements speak to us personally and in community.

God shares in our death, even as God leads us into life.

In the passage in Mark 8 when Peter struggled with Jesus’ talk of suffering, Jesus goes on to urge his listeners to stop clinging to life, and to follow him.

Across the Synod we have a Vision Statement which begins with ‘following’: ‘Following Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation’.

Following Christ may include letting go of the ways that we might prefer to cling to life, to respond faithfully to where Christ leads.

I know that my own following of Christ is based in the love and grace of God that I see in Jesus, and in the way that his teaching leads to community, compassion and justice.

Through Christ I come to know God whose love is stronger than death.

In John’s gospel there’s a passage in which some people are turning away from following Jesus, and Jesus asks those who stay with him why they are doing so.

Peter’s response here is, “to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life”. (John 6:68).

This rings true for me, and it is about life in abundance (John 10:10).

In all of our communities, as we celebrate Easter we encounter the God who shares in our death; we encounter the Christ for whom death is not the last word, and we encounter the Spirit who connects us to this death and resurrection story.

The way of the cross is also the way of true life; may Christ gives us grace to follow.

David signature

Rev David Fotheringham

Moderator

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