Let’s start with today’s reading: John 20 vv.1-18 – and, if you are reading this in the evening, you might want to carry on with vv.19-23.
Well…chocolate, eggs, cards – I hope you have enjoyed some of those staples of Easter today. And all three (of course) represent Easter themes that we find in John’s Gospel.
Chocolate speaks of joy. It’s something to do with the sugar – food with a high sugar content makes us feel better in some mysteriously scientific way (many apologies if you are diabetic or allergic…). Actually, it took Jesus’ followers some time to get to the point of experiencing joy that first Easter Day – they had to work their way through disbelief, surprise and fear. But Jesus had promised them joy – ‘You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy,’ he had told them in 16 v.20, and by Acts 2 v.28 they are boldly offering this joy to others. Now we have arrived at this joyful morning. Joy for Christians comes from taking time to reflect on the story of Jesus’ resurrection – the sweetest story ever told…
Eggs speak of new life. All human and animal life springs in some way from eggs. Jesus returns to this world in new life on Easter morning, but he has already made it clear right through John’s Gospel, that new life is not just something that he will experience, but his gift to the world. We can start again, as we put our trust in Jesus who rose again from the dead, as we hand over our old lives to him. He talked to Nicodemus about being born again (3 v.3) and he describes himself as ‘the resurrection and the life’ (11 v.25) and offers that new life to all who believe in him. As Jesus’ tomb is broken open, so he has opened the way to new life for the world.
And cards remind us that we are not on our own. I wonder if more Easter cards have been sent this year than ever before as people have been unable to meet up – we tried to make sure that my mother, whom we can’t visit because she lives in a care home, had plenty of cards for Easter, to remind her that she is not on her own. Jesus offers us new life with others, in the fellowship of his people; we are encouraged to live that new life by our fellow Christians; we express the wonder of that new life as we worship the risen Jesus with others.
So chocolate, eggs and cards are all part of our Easter celebration – don’t forget what they stand for! This may not seem like a time of joy, a time of new life, and we know that we can’t get close to others, but as we go more deeply into the story of Jesus’ glorious resurrection, we shall discover more of that joy, be encouraged to live his new life, and grow closer to out fellow Christians who share our new life in Christ.
Sing, Church of God! Exult with joy outpoured! The gospel trumpets tell of victory won! Your Saviour lives; he’s with you evermore! Let all God’s people sound the long Amen!