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April 2011
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fete Easter joy
By the Revd David Burgess

Firstly, my thanks to many members of our church and village communities for their support, prayers and good wishes over the last few months. I’m much improved, and I hope to be back working in the parishes in the very near future.

Experiences such as time away from work give you a sense of living in parallel with events rather than being fully involved with them; for example, being aware of but not being part of the churches’ response to the news of the devastating events in Japan (news that’s only three days old as I write this piece, and reflection on which would, I think, be better left for my next article with more time for thought and preparation).

An entire society once lived in parallel with the greatest single event in history but was almost entirely unaware of it. It was just another Sunday morning in and around the Jerusalem area one day in the early 30s AD. People would have been embarking on their new day as usual. No-one witnessed the event, and only a few were to learn about it even by the end of the day.

For those who did witness the immediate aftermath of the Resurrection, joy is the emotion which is most strongly captured in all the accounts of the Easter story. Looking at the Gospel accounts, it seems that the joy came from two sources.

Part of the joy lay in the mystery of the event and in the way the news was revealed and passed on. There were no witnesses to the act of resurrection itself; but a series of people, at first sceptical, were finally convinced by the evidence they saw before them (the empty tomb, the angels, the appearance of Jesus).

The second source of Easter joy was the transformation which the events brought about. David Wheaton writes:
“As day broke on that Sunday morning, Jesus’s followers were shadow-men... Yet within twelve hours everything is changed... Despondency and mourning are things of the past. Fear is gone, and in its place, indescribable joy.”
The events of a quiet Sunday morning in Jerusalem, bringing joy through mystery and transformation, changed the world for good. Our existence as a church is only possible because these events happened. Easter is the mark of God’s love, and of his offer and provision of new life for us.

I wish you a joyful Easter.

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