April sees the greatest celebration in the Church’s year – Easter Day. It’s a wonderful, joy filled celebration of the risen life of our Lord Jesus Christ and we will have special services in every Parish Church on 12th April. But before that we will make extra effort to observe Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter Day) and there are services, which you will find details of elsewhere in the Parishes Paper, every day in this important week. In fact on Good Friday there are five services taking place, one in each parish, on what is the most solemn day of the Church year.
But why, you may ask, if Easter is so important, have so many services in the week beforehand? For those of you who have experience of the Church’s observance of Holy Week you will know that services in this week are often quiet, serious, reflective services. Surely such services distract from the exhuberence of Easter Day?
I believe that it is hard to grasp the full extent of joy and hope at Easter time unless we see the reality of all that Jesus went through in the days before and leading up to his death. In the betrayal, loss and suffering of Jesus we see the way in which he shared the pain we all experience in life. In his crucifixion and death we see the price that sin and evil exacts on our world, so often upon the innocent.
It is only when we see the darkness that the wonder of the light becomes truly apparent. Just as without an understanding of despair, hope means very little. It is because of what Jesus went through that the message of God’s power is all the more amazing, that Jesus’ new life comes from suffering and death, that nothing, not even death, is greater than the love of God.
For me this belief that God is there in darkness and light, good times and bad, that his love is with us even when we do not feel it makes faith real, alive. Being a Christian does not divorce us from the real world, it makes the reality of suffering even more apparent, but allows us to hold on to the hope of God’s life even in the worst of times. I would encourage you to come to one (or more) of the services in Holy Week that the glory of the resurrection may be even more real. May wonder, joy and hope be yours this Easter time.