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A VIEW FROM THE MANSE
"He has risen! He is not here" Mark 16:6
We start this month slap-bang in the middle of lent, as we look forward to Easter, the festival of the Resurrection, toward the end of the month.Lent is the period of preparation during which we examine ourselves as we look forward to the celebration of Easter. Those preparations and period of examination come into sharper focus as we reach Palm Sunday at the beginning of Holy Week, during which the tension builds toward Good Friday when we remember Christ's passion.
It is a sombre start to the weekend as we remember Jesus' willing sacrifice of himself for us and our sin. Good Friday leaves us hanging as we encounter the brutal truth of God's plan of salvation; a brutality that he takes upon himself in Jesus. It is a sombre festival, which we confess as victory even though it looks so very much like abject failure. And there we are left as we begin our Easter weekend, hanging in anticipation - forced to look at the cross in all its gory detail. It is an uncomfortable start to the festivities.
Yet the discomfort heightens the contrast when we come to Easter Sunday and proclaim the Resurrection, much as the angel proclaimed it to the women on the day that Jesus rose from the dead. The angel's words reported in Mark say it all, despite their economy:-
"He has risen!" You thought it was all over, but in truth it has just begun. You thought it was all lost, but in truth it has all been won. Those three simple words tell us that everything has changed, and nothing will ever be the same again. If death can be transformed into life then there is hope in every situation, however bleak and desperate.
"He is not here." God cannot be contained or constrained, and following his resurrection Jesus was free and on the move. The good news of God is active and dynamic, and whenever we find ourselves entering the unknown we are confident that Jesus has gone on before us.
Easter is a time of hope and energy, the festival of the Resurrection is a time of joyous celebration for those who receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour and follow him. As we look forward to Easter, as we progress through this season of Lent, are we preparing ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus with joy and hope?
"Christ is risen! He is risen indeed: Hallelujah!"
Your friend and pastor,
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