Pause for Easter (First published in the Euro Weekly News on 8th April 2019)
As a chocoholic, I always relish the availability of Chocolate Eggs at this time of year – I really can’t get too many! Unfortunately however, this year we’ll be visiting family in Tanzania, where chocolate eggs rapidly melt to a gooey mess, so we’ll have to use boiled eggs instead. Puzzled? Well, before retiring to Spain, we used to live on the outskirts of Preston in Lancashire, where every Easter, children decorate boiled eggs ready for the egg-rolling competition. This centuries-long tradition, attracts many thousands of visitors to Avenham Park in Preston on Easter Monday, when various groups compete to see who can roll their eggs the furthest. A fascinating custom, which is of course loosely based on the amazing Easter story of the stone that rolled back from his grave when Jesus rose from the dead.
The birth, life and death of Jesus are comparatively easy for us to accept in this sceptical age, but his resurrection, so pivotal to Christian faith, is much more of a challenge. Yet each of the four Gospel writers agree that it happened. Jesus died; his body placed in a tomb, sealed with a very large rock, which was then guarded by soldiers to ensure no-one could steal his remains. Yet hours later the rock had been moved aside, the tomb was empty and the Guards were claiming that in dereliction of their duty, they’d fallen asleep, during which time the followers of Jesus had removed his remains without waking any one of them!
To be honest I find the Biblical explanation that the stone was moved by an angel and Jesus came back to life, rather less difficult to believe. And his followers were so certain of his resurrection that they refused to modify their story even under torture and threat of death. So I’m pretty comfortable with that Gospel account, accepting that, by definition God must be beyond the power of death. And taking that one, small, entirely logical step of faith, necessarily results in allowing us to trust him with those who’ve died, confident that all who had faith in him will in due time be raised themselves, so that we may be together with the Lord forever.