April is the month we look forward to because of the length ening days as the clocks are adjusted to British Summer Time at the end of March. Spring is really beginning to blossom and even though April can be unpredictable weather-wise, we fee lre-energised at the thought of being outdoors in the warm sunlight. April will be a special month of celebration too as Easter is later this year closely followed by the Royal Wedding.
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian year and the events of Palm Sunday, which begins Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve all tell their own part of the Passion story before Easter Day can be celebrated with great joy and thanksgiving. The new life of Christ at Easter (symbolised with eggs bringing hope of new birth) lies at the heart of the Christian message. Both Holy week and Easter make us focus on the great themes of life and death.
Our generosity towards others and our willingness to show compassion and love is for Christians the beginning of sharing in God's own self-giving life. Easter is a celebration of life. It isn't an attempt to deny the realityof death, but simply to say that we don't live to die. Welive to share and make life possible for others. God's love is unending and therefore even beyond our death, God still has more to give and to share. Wehave a respon sibility to make sure that the lives of those who come after ours will not suffer because of the choices we have made. There is a sense of the continuing love of God at work in the everyday lives of us all, whether or not we naturally put God at the heart of our actions.
Today there are marketing practices based on the Easter story. Fluffy chicks and Easter bunnies are part of the wider secular celebration, and the Easter egg hunt which children love is the search for the symbols of new life. The Fairtrade 'Real Easter Egg' has the Christian meaning of Easter printed on the box and is an excellent way of introducing children to the message. I have bought one for each of my grand children.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrated on Easter Day, is as momentous to us today as it was for those first disciples. The risen Christ did not continue his old life just as it was before his death on the cross. Everything changed.
Mary Magdalene was the first to learn that the new life of Jesus is not just for his disciples and friends, but for everyone. The person his disciples so loved is both there with them and not there. He comes to them and disappears again. He is no longer just theirs. Jesus is there to be shared. We recognise the risen Jesus differently just as we as individuals are all different. Each of us can only understand as much as our awareness of life allows. This is the gift of life from the God who created all life from the beginning and is now remaking it again. Each time we rejoice and give thanks to God for this gift we are recognising God's new resurrection life.
Every blessing for a happy Easter.
Dilys pays credit to Jane Williams for some of the themes raised in her bookApproaching Easter.