The really good news gospel - the Easter message from the Methodist President

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, President of the MethodistConference, says;

"Donald English used to say that death and resurrection is notsimply what happened to Jesus but is the deep movement God implantsin all creation. The Christian God is a God of death andresurrection.

"Like many I have been challenged by poignant examples of death -its reality and hard consequences - and blessed by wonderfulexamples of resurrection - and the hope and joy it brings.

"I will never forget a conversation with a Sierra Leonian man,bearing the scars of the rebel war in the 1990's so powerfullydepicted in the recent film Blood Diamond. He thanked me ferventlyfor bringing the gospel to his land - he talked to me as if I wasone of those first Methodist missionaries to West Africa! Heexplained with deep emotion how he had received Christ quiterecently, in the war years, and this coming to faith had enabledhim to begin to forgive those who mutilated him - and, as I learneda little later, killed his wife. I was moved to tears. In all hispain and lasting disability he knew that Jesus was alive, and therewas hope in his life. He knew in a deep way that the gospel ofChrist truly is good news.

"More recently, when in Uganda with MRDF, I met Christian folk whohave so little, who live with the reality and proximity of deathand suffering in a way I do not, yet who remind me more than mostof the life and hope of Christian faith. Death and resurrectionbelong together.

"Or I think of some friends who have died in recent times. Theyknew their prognosis. They lived with the stark consequences oftheir impending death, for themselves and especially their lovedones. And at just the time when hope might be most lacking in thesedear people and those who love them, they talk of the nearness ofChrist, the wonderful love and forgiveness of God, the comfort oftheir faith, their trust in Jesus, the salvation he freely gave andtheir hope of heaven. In the most traumatic situations of life, itis often those going through them who embody and make clear thatthe Christian gospel truly is good news.

"Death and resurrection is also evident in the life of ourchurches. I was at Walworth Methodist Church some weeks ago. Achurch with a venerable past, 'Clubland' had a great ministry amonglocal youths and others in that London neighbourhood. But therecame a time when almost all signs of life disappeared, and a longthree days of darkness ensued. But resurrection has come and newlife bursts out everywhere. Methodist Christians, young and old,many (originally) from various parts of West Africa and beyond,share life and worship that exudes the good news gospel.

"Our world lives with death and resurrection in many ways and inmany places. An 'average' news broadcast gives cause to both weepand rejoice. In places of death and darkness we must continue toweep with those who weep and 'look for the morning' as people ofresurrection faith and hope. With those who rejoice in life andhope we must celebrate and point to God, the giver of it all.

"Our Easter faith is not death or resurrection, it is death andresurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is not a reversal of death.It is much more than that. The risen Jesus is known by the scars ofcrucifixion. He is the Living One Who Died. But now he is aliveforever. And, marvellously, he stands today with this needy worldin the reality of death and the promise of new life. This ministryhe shares with us, his Easter People Church, a people bearing themarks of both death and new life. A people who know and live outthe profound truth that death and resurrection life both lie deepin the purposes of God, in whom all things will be well.Alleluia!"