by Neil Hudson (originally aired on BBC GMR, Easter Sunday 2007)
Easter Sunday is a bit of a nuisance for some people. It could be easy to forget that on a sunny weekend such as we are promised, the garden centres and DIY warehouses will be closed. After all, it’s a holiday, isn’t it? Surely it’s the perfect time for a visit to these places to beautify our gardens and do up our houses. So why the enforced pause in the ongoing leisure activity of shopping? The law outlining these opening times was passed in 1994 when Parliament passed the Sunday Trading Bill, allowing shops to open on every Sunday except for Easter Sunday.
So we are left with this one Sunday when we can’t go shopping, when spending money is made that little bit more difficult and when we may be left with time on our hands. It reflects the fact that for Christians, Easter Sunday is regarded as the most important day in the calendar. It is the culmination of the events that lie at the heart of their faith.
For the earliest disciples it was the moment of greatest surprise. On the first Easter morning some of the women began to make the short journey to anoint the dead body of Jesus with oils, when they saw that the stone was rolled away. This would have been the last thing that they would have expected. In fact, their fear was that someone had stolen the body, the final link they had with their master had been taken from them and now they would be left completely alone.
Now it’s true that everything that happens next takes some believing, but if you do then life certainly takes on a different perspective.
They were greeted by two angels announcing that the body had not been stolen, as they feared, but that Jesus had risen from the dead and was going to meet them. They ran back to tell the male disciples, who being typical men, didn’t believe it until they had seen the situation for themselves.
The men had been right to be so sceptical, because if this was true, then that changed everything. For starters, they were no fools. They knew that dead bodies did not rise from the dead. They would do what we all would have done – they looked for alternative, realistic answers. But the answer they found was the most stunning of all possible answers: Christ had risen from the dead.
It would take a long time for them to come to terms with all that that meant. For a start, it meant that the authorities who had put Jesus to death had not had the final word. It also began to make sense of the rest of Christ’s teachings. It was the final word of hope – after the bleakest day, this was the resurrection day.
And Christians have been living in the light of that day ever since, as well as coming to terms with what it all means. And taking hope from all that it means. Life is not the end, there is a life to come; those in power don’t have the last say, God does; even in the midst of the darkness, there is the prospect of resurrection.
It’s worth a day to stop and think this one through. Granted, today you won’t be able to get the marigolds from the garden centre, but an idea could be planted in you today that might grow into something much more exciting. It’s resurrection day.