Archbishop's Easter Joy
Sunday 8th April 2012The Archbishop writes in the Sun on the joy of Easter, the Real Easter Egg, and of Madeleine McCann who is still missing. His article in full follows...
Happy Easter. Christos aneste ek nekron!
Ninety years ago, following the Russian Famine in 1922 around 33 million people were in danger of starvation in Soviet Russia. A story is told that Nikolai Bukharin, head of the Communist International, was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address a vast anti-God rally. For an hour he abused and ridiculed the helplessness of the Christian faith and all its convictions, until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. Questions were invited.
A priest of the Russian Orthodox Church rose. He faced the people and gave them the ancient Easter greeting, CHRISTOS ANESTĒ EK NEKRŌN, “Christ is risen from the dead”. Instantly the whole vast assembly rose to its feet, and the reply came back like a crash of breakers against the cliff, "He is risen indeed".
Nikolai Bukharin's mistake, and the mistake of many people, then and now, is to treat the Christian faith like an ideology. Looking for Jesus Christ among the dead.
But the truth of Easter is not to be found in the grave of past experience, of pre-conceived expectations, it’s in the joy and constant surprises of new life, which Jesus brings us.
But will we recognise him when he turns up – unexpectedly – drying our tears, as he dried Mary’s in the garden by the tomb; when he breaks through the barriers we - like the frightened disciples - build around ourselves?
Will we recognise him when he walks beside us on our journey, as he did with the confused disciples leaving Jerusalem after the crucifixion?
How can we recognise him? He’s the one who created all the good things which make your life worth living. He’s the light who makes things clear each morning when you wake up. He’s the love you feel for your family and friends; the joy you have together. He’s the hope you have, when you plan for the future. He’s the meaning of what’s good about life. Do you know him? Will you recognise him? He’s alive today, and every day.
Real Easter with Real Easter Eggs
One of my greatest joys is visiting schools. Children are always bringing me down to earth. When I was in Birmingham I visited a school just before Holy Week. The children knew all the story of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, as well as Easter. We got to the events in the Garden of Gesthemane and I asked, “What did Jesus say to his three disciples who were sleeping?”
A ten-year old piped up and said, “Wake up you lazy blighters! Judas is here: he’s been paid to get me nicked! Don’t forget what I said to you, “This is my body, this is my blood. Stick to bread and wine; And don’t touch my Easter Eggs. I’ll be back on Sunday!”
What is it about Easter and Eggs?
Some people say that the when the egg cracks open it’s like the stone that was rolled away, leaving the empty tomb of Jesus. Others remind us that eggs are a symbol of hope and new life.
Some Easter eggs are made of precious stones, or carved wood. Others are painted in beautiful colours. Of course, we like chocolate ones - because they taste so good.
In our house we buy The Real Easter Egg, because it tells the story of Easter Day on the box. Easter is what’s special in our celebration. And while we’re celebrating we can give thanks for the people who made the egg, and help make a difference to them. Because the egg is made of Fairtrade chocolate, and some of the purchase price is donated to help small-scale farmers and producers in the developing world.
So enjoy your eggs. And enjoy this day of new beginnings.
Getting out the News
When we went to the newsagent today, and made our choice of which paper or magazine to buy (The Sun, in your case!) we would have been faced with a huge array of printed paper – getting the News out to the nation.
Back in 1450, the beginning of all this marvellous choice came about through an invention by Johannes Gutenberg – the printing press. What a revolution in people’s lives that was! It’s appropriate that the first major book produced by the Gutenberg Press was the Bible.
‘Getting the news out’ was the task Jesus gave to his disciples after his resurrection, and what Christians have been doing ever since.
Often, we do it by word of mouth – we gossip, but I give thanks that we are also blessed by the printed word, so that we reach out to everyone, wherever they are.
Speaking to Madeleine McCann’s mother, Kate, and also to the parents of another ‘disappeared’ daughter, Claudia Lawrence, Kate told me that it was only after Madeleine was taken from them, that she learnt how many children go missing each year from all over the world. Spare a thought today for the abducted Madeleine, for the anguish of parents in similar situations. Newspapers, please continue to hold before the world the face of Madeleine McCann who is still missing.