The significance of Easter
The two most significant periods in the year for Christians are Christmas and Easter. Obviously, the one which attracts the general public most is Christmas, which is simply a celebration of the birth of Christ. Even if they do not focus on the nativity, many share gifts and gather with family and friends, but for some, Christmas can be a very lonely time.
Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring after the equinox. This year, Good Friday will be on April 19, Easter Sunday on April 21 and Easter Monday on April 22. While people outside the Church may be grateful to have two public holidays at Easter, these days are often disconnected from the history of the occasion.
Christians are inspired by the life of Jesus Christ. In some ways, this is most clearly expressed at Easter, going well beyond the arrival of a dear little baby (even as a virgin birth). We see a God who was not simply creating the universe and viewing it from a distance, but a Christ who truly experienced the dreams, challenges, costliness, joy, hope and possibilities of daily life.
There are times when life is simple and rewarding, as God’s good people. But being true to our faith does not always deliver us rewards every day. The fullness of Christian life invites us to make choices. We will be tempted to take the easier options as though this is a justified privilege, but looking carefully at the way Jesus Christ chose and dared to live calls us to live another way. We see this especially at Easter.
Jesus lived so strongly and bravely that he had to be stopped by those who had the power to do so. They knew that his example brought such humility, compassion and justice into society that the rich and powerful would be threatened by those who followed him.
There are, of course, people in our day and throughout history who have dared to live with this sort of costliness so that their people might be freed, given food, work and housing and offered ways of participating in society that were creative and just. People like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and many other men and women who cared so much about the wellbeing of the community that they stood up for justice and ended up in prison or were threatened by those whose power they challenged.
If we see that Jesus rose from the dead, after his crucifixion, it is to tell us that life is stronger than death, good more powerful than evil – even if we rarely see examples of that around us.
Christians and others who want to live with greater commitment to creating a just and loving world can reflect together on what might need to change if this is to be achieved. Together we have a better chance of being wise and brave. Together we can dream of a different world, especially as we face elections of governments. We can paint a picture of new hope for the future and hold on to each other as we take our stands. Easter can inspire us and lift our hearts, as we remember the costly commitment of Jesus Christ, the Human One.