Reflections on Easter 2007
Bible Reading: Luke 4:18-19
On this day there were two reflections given, at different services.
(1) John Williams reflects:
Three things have crystallized for me this Lent and Easter.
Firstly, this Easter I experienced, very deeply, liberation. I felt free from any need to anymore entertain the belief that our loving profligate, gracious God needed to have Jesus crucified so that my sins might be forgiven. I am free of a conflict of belief which I have struggled with for years. I cannot reconcile with my personal experience of a loving, gracious God, the traditional view that God required Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross to allow God to forgive me my sins. I cannot see why a loving gracious God would require a sacrifice of any kind, let alone his own son, to make it possible for God to show the grace to forgive me for all that separates me from him. My enduring experience of my loving God is one of him and her taking me in their arms and holding me close, as in Rembrandt's painting of the "loving father and the prodigal son", to reveal God's forgiveness and abundant grace.
My experience is so at odds that I am offended by the thought of my God needing to be as vengeful and violent as to require a cruel crucifixion of Jesus.
I see more clearly as I have often said it was not God's will that Jesus be crucified.
But because Jesus followed God's will he was crucified.
Secondly, over lent I tried to take seriously the fact that relationship with God is a two way street. My focus on my need has clouded out and not even that God had needs in the relationship with me. It not just listening, but letting my spirit be free to... if you like "minister to God". I had not conceded that God could need me for anything... what could I offer to the almighty God. Well you know I am finding that his love for me is because God actually likes me... .can you believe that... well I sense he does.
Thirdly, I have found power in Luke's presentation of Jesus as God's liberating prophet. Both in his actions and in his teachings Jesus put people first. People matter most. Belonging with God was open to everyone. (Thanks for "Faith for Households".)
Jesus died because he taught and lived in ways that will lead to death but it does not end there. He lived so as to rise with God's healing in his wings.
Let me close with some words of scripture and from Gordon which meant a lot to me over Easter.
Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.'
"That s what Jesus said he was on about. That's the way that Jesus spent his time, his energy, his life. Faithful to this way of life... .even to the point of death."
"The importance of Easter Day is not that the tomb was empty but that the followers of this radical life changing man Jesus experienced the presence of the risen Christ from that day onwards."
I believe I do.
And I know I am not alone in this within our Kippax community of faith.
Author: John Williams
(2) Mrs Robin Blake reflects:
When our children were small, we used to read to them. There were favourites that we knew so well that we didn't really need the book. We could quote the story and turn the pages without looking. We were word perfect.
After well over half a century of hearing the Easter story, I should know it pretty well; all the right words and where the page breaks come, shouldn't I? Maybe not.
This Easter season, as we have worked through the studies in the small group that I belong to, and as we have commented on some of the sermons, I have noticed people saying things like " I never noticed that in that reading before" or "I haven't looked at that in quite that way before". Maybe we are not word perfect with the Easter story, and there is more to learn.
One line that leaped out at me was in the Palm Sunday sermon when Gordon spoke about God not needing a violent bloodstained sacrifice to love. God loves me no matter what - real unconditional LOVE. Just sit with that idea for a moment. How does it make you feel? It makes me want to weep with humility and shout for joy all at the same time. And it demands a response from me.
My foundations began to be shaken, and I began to see God differently.
Then there was that reading from Luke 4: 18, 19 that kept echoing through Easter. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me..."
I'm glad Jesus came to do that for those people, but it doesn't mean much to me, does it? Not so.
Then I began to think, suppose I make it personal; what if I am poor because I haven't listened to the good news? What if I am a captive because I have all sorts of things holding me down that I don't want to let go? What if I am blind because I just don't want to see? What if I am oppressed because I just have trouble accepting the Lord's favour?
My foundations were shaken rather more, and I realised that I need to respond and that I am not word perfect and I still have a great deal to learn!
So what next? A line from a song we often sing keeps running through my mind " How then shall I live, O Lord, how then shall I live?" And that for me is a work in progress. My hope is that this Easter has made a difference.