How is Easter going for you?
A reading from the Gospel of Matthew
The Resurrection of Jesus: After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. – Matthew 28:1-5
How is Easter going for you?
It would be easy at any time but especially this year to forget that Easter is not just the single day of Easter Sunday but is a whole season of the Church lasting fifty days finishing at Pentecost. It is a time when Christians not only celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on the first Easter, but remember his ministry continuing with appearances to his closest followers, his wider circle of disciples and then to many others. Christians also celebrate the hope of eternal life that comes with faith in the resurrection of Jesus; the foundation of Christian faith which has sustained Christians for over two thousand years.
It was interesting in the midst of the Covid-19 restrictions some media stories and reports were headlined with phrases such as, “Churches Closed – Easter Cancelled” just as they had similarly done with the announcement that schools would shift to online learning using the tags, “Schools Cancelled”. Yet here we are, all ready to start a new term and continue learning. Although I am in my office and you are in your home, we are still a school. Although the atmosphere and structure is different to what we are used to, we are still coming together to learn and to grow, to share and to be community albeit online for the time being.
School is not cancelled, and neither was Easter. Easter cannot be cancelled, and although churches may not have been filled with people as per usual, they still came together sharing prayer and online worship in all sorts of ways knowing that the promises of God, made complete through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus still go on and are alive and well in these difficult times.
And these times are trying; for many there is uncertainty of employment, there are questions of when and if things might return to some semblance of what we think of as normality. Many are separated from friends and family and others are struggling to make sense of what is happening and explain it to their children and there are many other challenges we all face.
Easter is a reminder to us that God is with us always. No matter what is happening, through his Son Jesus hope can be found in the darkest of times. As each new day dawns, like that first Easter morning, we can turn our eyes towards the Son of God and be assured the He has risen and continues to be the light for the world and hope for our lives when we invite him into our hearts and all we do. Christ is Risen! Alleluia! He is risen indeed! Alleluia.
As your Easter continues may you find peace in your day and hope in your heart, may you experience many blessings each day and may you be a blessing to those who need you most at this time. Amen.
I would like to mention something about the recent cyclone in the South Pacific as I have had quite a number of calls and emails regarding the communities we support in Vanuatu.
In February this year I visited Vanuatu and the villages we support. I was impressed by the Covid-19 checks they already had in place for international and domestic travellers in an attempt to keep Vanuatu free from the virus. Amazingly, they are one of only a handful of places in the world still without any cases of Covid-19.
Unfortunately, the restrictions to anyone travelling to Vanuatu means their primary income generated from tourism dried up. As many of you will be aware, recently the South Pacific was hit by what has been described as the most powerful cyclone to ever strike the region, with Vanuatu the hardest hit and the Island of Santo worst affected.
I have had little contact as most communications are still only accessible for government and emergency services, but I do know that the destruction of homes and crops, especially in the north and east where all the villages we visit are, has been huge. In most villages there are no traditional houses left, food crops have been destroyed and many schools are badly damaged, resources destroyed and roofs blown off. I wait anxiously to hear from those I have messaged. I imagine the news will not be great.
Recovery for the area is made more difficult due to the Covid-19 situation which means international aid workers are not able to enter the country. Although, there are some emergency supplies being delivered by plane which is good news.
There are a number of organisations collecting money to assist with the work that needs to be done. Obviously in the current situation there is no way food, clothing or any goods can be transported to help the people of Vanuatu. The best thing to do, if you would like to help, is to donate to a reputable organisation. Please keep the people of Vanuatu in your prayers and thoughts at this time as they struggle with a very trying situation with no food, shelter or infrastructure.
Let us end in prayer
God of all situations. We hold everything around us that is confusing, difficult to make sense of and brings anxiety and uncertainty to our lives in our hearts and minds. Help us to let go of these things and hand them over to you that our burden may be lightened.
Grant us peace in our day even just for a few minutes that we may pray through that peace for our own needs and the needs of others. We pray for the people of Vanuatu and the South Pacific and their needs. We give thanks for those who are delivering aid and help in so many ways. Grant them strength, courage and all they need at this time for the work they are doing. Although so many of our lives are turned upside down help us to continue to be generous, compassionate and caring for all in need in our world.
We pray for the term ahead and ask for your guidance for students, their families and all staff of St Paul’s School. Grant us courage for the journey ahead, patience with each other and strength to do the best we can do in all our tasks. Bless us as we seek to grow in faith, learning and community and fill us with love one for another. Accept these prayers in Jesus name, our risen Lord and saviour. Amen.
Rev Mark Leam