April is a time when we probably see the most amount of change, the days get longer, it is now British Summer Time and there is much more light in the evenings to go out and do activities after school or work. There are signs of warmth from the sun that promise hotter days. Assuming it is actually warmer, then the trees and plants really start to grow and put out new growth and life. Hopefully, winter is becoming a distant memory and we look forward to Spring and Summer. Although we can still suffer really cold periods in April! Not only are we looking forward to better weather, but we are also looking forward to better times. The hope is that in Spring and Summer the COVID 19 threat will be substantially reduced and life might return to something near the pre-pandemic levels. Hope is really important, it can lift our spirits in difficult times. It can encourage us to keep trying and keep going when we might normally give up. Hope looks for real and positive change. The counterbalance to this is hopelessness when life looks like it might never get better and there is no end in sight. The cost of living crisis and rising energy prices are casting a real shadow over any hope that we might have.
There is a parallel conflict in the Easter story. The followers of Jesus were hoping and looking forward to a brighter better future. It all unravels when Jesus visits Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus is betrayed by his friend Judas. Unjustly, he is condemned to death on Good Friday. As we recall Jesus’ death on Good Friday and him lying dead in the tomb on Holy Saturday, the shadow of death had been cast over Jesus and there was a sense of desolation. There is also a clear sense of darkness and injustice overcoming goodness and a sense of hopelessness. Easter Sunday 17th April recalls how the women find the tomb empty, Jesus appears to Mary and the disciples. He is not dead but alive. The shadow of death and the sense of evil overcoming good is replaced with the promise of new life and hope. Jesus becomes the first person to show life after death and he promises an eternal destiny beyond the grave that many people call heaven. It also gives hope to people as loved ones die, whereas on Easter Saturday all appears to be hopeless.
Easter is also about a renewed and restored relationship with God where our shortcomings and failures are wiped clean. We can bring about changes in our everyday relationships through love and forgiveness which mirror the way God treats us. It brings about the possibility of a little heaven here and now. Jesus taught us to pray ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven….’ It is a wonderful thing to see how God can change our situation and relationships if we allow Him to guide us.