I am posting this because tomorrow is Easter day, and I would want to encourage folk to celebrate this most joyous day in the Christian calendar (along with Christmas), although an Internet search for suitable Easter images, came up mainly with eggs and bunnies, indicating sadly that many don’t quite see it in those terms.
I had earlier watched the film Risen, which some regard as a natural sequel to the film “the Passion of the Christ”, which was first released in 2004. I liked both films and both I found moving. While some critics who share many of my theological views would take issue that both films take too many liberties with the biblical narrative, I would argue that in many cases a degree of artistic license was appropriate and that both films have done / will do a good deal of good. In the case of the Passion, it was the 30 seconds at the end showing Jesus rising from the dead following nearly 3 hours viewing mostly excruciating suffering, leaving me with the distinct impression he did this for me and, despite all he went through, is vindicated as victor over sin, death and the devil. As for “Risen”, despite the inconvenience of the empty tomb, as far as the Jewish and Roman authorities were concerned, and the lengths they went through to find the dead body of Jesus and discredit the disciples claims Jesus had risen, they were unsuccessful, along with the interesting fiction around the Roman Tribune’s experience and likely conversion while investigating these matters.
It seems to me there are three most significant events in the Christian calendar: Christmas – God incarnate entering the world in the form of the baby Jesus, Good Friday – Jesus dying on the cross as part of God’s plan to redeem human kind and Easter Sunday – the day Jesus rose from the dead – vindication he is indeed the Saviour of the world and Lord of all (one could add Pentecost – the pouring out of the Holy Spirit onto the church). These are historically verifiable events, foretold long before by Hebrew prophets, without which Christianity is rendered meaningless. My own Christian upbringing, unlike that of many of my fellow Christians, put little store on special days including these three most special days, arguing the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus are things we should be thinking about every day, especially Jesus dying in our place in order to atone for our sins.
It matters little to me nowadays whether or not people especially wish to celebrate these special occasions and what they do as part of that celebration. As for a pecking order of which of these events is most significant and which is least, I would say all are significant and complement each other, and there is a time to focus on one or the other. Personally, I regret not making more of these special days, and in the case of Easter, not putting much store on the importance of Lent preparation, but when I wake up tomorrow morning in a world that is full of darkness and uncertainty, I do so in the sure knowledge that Jesus is alive. By rising from the dead he reveals himself not as a liar or a lunatic but as Lord of All, the one alone we can put our complete trust and hope in. The glorious truth I invite readers to celebrate is “Jesus Christ is risen today – Alleluia”.