Easter reflection from the Methodist President and Vice-President

The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conferencehave invited people to step into the Easter story with their Easterreflection.

"To them and all the world comes the message that Christ isalive. God has raised him up and affirmed that his way of taking upthe cross in suffering love is God's way of creating, redeeming andperfecting the world," said the Revd Kenneth Howcroft and GillDascombe. "God still seeks to raise us up to be Christ's body andlive his way through what we say and do, and how we think and pray(and, in a few weeks, how we vote) in the world aroundus." 

The full text of the reflection follows:

On our visits to the different parts of the Methodist Church wesee many examples of death and resurrection. There are so manyplaces where God's Spirit is doing incredible things in us andthrough us.

We have tried to explore this in two reflections on how peopleexperienced the events of the first Easter. The woman's is by theVice-President, Gill Dascombe. The man's is by the President, theRevd Kenneth Howcroft.

The characters and events of Holy Week take us through a vastrange of human experience: from jubilation through conflict, hope,betrayal, anger, power, fear, to grief, pain and loss, bewildermentand desolation where all we can do is wait. In this we are movingalong the way that took Jesus through Good Friday to Holy Saturday,and on towards Easter Sunday's good news of new life.

In our travels, we have begun to realise that true renewal isalways shaped by a dynamic of death and resurrection. It is stampedthrough with the reality of a cross and a tomb. Both begin with abody. Both become empty. They are inextricably linked.

To them and all the world comes the message that Christ isalive. God has raised him up and affirmed that his way of taking upthe cross in suffering love is God's way of creating, redeeming andperfecting the world. God still seeks to raise us up to be Christ'sbody and live his way through what we say and do, and how we thinkand pray (and, in a few weeks, how we vote) in the world aroundus.

A woman

Why did I go to the garden so early? It was still dark! Thenight-world was a place of shadows and menace and all around wasthe gloomy silence of death. Unsure of my way, I was stumbling overboulders and getting caught in bushes. Overcome with frustrationand despair, I sank down and wept.

I hadn't been able to sleep, of course. Not that night or thenight before. Like all the bereaved, I didn't want one day to endand the next one to start. Each new day dragging me further fromhis presence, each day the pain of separation gnawing anew at myinsides.

Later he was to tell me not to cling to him, not to hold on, andat the time I thought that it was the most unutterably callousthing I had ever heard. Of course I wanted to cling on! To cling onwith all my might. To squeeze out every last drop that was left tomemory. It was all I had left.

But it was into such darkness and emptiness that God spoke thefirst words of creation, bringing light and life. Could it be thaton this blackest and most dreadful of all nights the world stoodonce again on the brink of something new?

The dawn began to break. There was no blinding brilliance, onlythe usual cold grey mistiness. Enough for me to stumble on to thetomb and look inside and find, to my horror, that it was empty.There was no body. Nothing left to cling to.

And then, a voice spoke once more into the void. A Word. And itwas my name. I turned around in astonishment and joy, and held outmy arms.

And he said: 'Don't cling to me. I haven't come back as before,I have moved on to new life. And so now must you.' The sun roseinto the sky, gaining strength and filling the garden with warmthand life. I became the first witness to God's new creation. Theuniverse re-made by love. I haven't come back, I have moved on, andnow, so must you.'

And now, so must we.

A man

Why didn't I go to the tomb? I couldn't bear it. I didn't wantto think about what people did to him. Or what God allowed tohappen to him. I had given up everything for him. But it had cometo nothing. Darkness. Emptiness.

I didn't want to picture the awful way he was killed. I hadn'tbeen able to face it when it happened. When the soldiers came, weran. But most of us also ran away from the horror of it all insideourselves. Some of us fell asleep when he asked us to stay awakeand pray while he prayed. He was praying that God's will, not his,be done not just in heaven but in what was happening to him here onearth, even if that meant that he would have to drain the cup ofsuffering. We were meant to be praying alongside him that we wouldnot be brought to our breaking point or led into temptation. Yetsome of us went on to deny that we knew him. Some of us thought hehad betrayed us and so ended up betraying him.

But something brought us back together. We huddled together,hiding from the awfulness of it all, from the rest of the world,and perhaps even from God.

We huddled together, not facing what had happened, yet somehowhanging on to it. Then something happened among the women. Some ofthem had not betrayed or denied him. They had not run away, but hadbeen there at his barbaric execution on a cross. They had notmerely said that they would follow him. They had actually followedhim.

Now they were running in, telling us a jumble of differentthings. His body had vanished. He wasn't dead. He had risen fromthe grave. Or, rather, God had raised him. Someone had told them.Or an angel had told them. Or he had appeared and spoken to themhimself. And they were to tell the rest of us that we were to getout of our huddle and get on with his mission, saying and doingwhat he had taught us to do. If we did, we would find that he waswith us.

Can we face it? Can we trust that their message is good news?Can we let go and let God raise us to new life with and in Christ -and, through us, the world?