By Bishop Linda Nicholls
Love wins! It is this simple principle of God’s Good News that renews our hope every year as we celebrate Easter.
Living the gospel is living this principle that the power of God’s love and grace is stronger than any other power we encounter – even death. That is what our journey to Easter is about.
It is the journey with Jesus into the heart of powers that claim authority and use death as the ultimate weapon fueled by fear, betrayal, abandonment, social, political and religious pressures. It is a journey each of us knows personally in some part of our lives when we are touched by the brokenness of this world and its people – including those closest to us and our own participation in sin.
Every year we walk with Jesus from the acclamations of Palm Sunday to the call to servanthood of Maundy Thursday to the betrayal by his closest friends to the cruelty and expediency of his trial and crucifixion. We weep for Jesus – we weep for Mary and John – we weep for injustice and suffering that permeates our lives and world – for children murdered in their school; for refugees at the mercy of unscrupulous human traffickers; for the poor who cannot afford justice or even find it; for those who suffer physically, emotionally, spiritually at the hands of others; for our own suffering from unwanted disease, natural disaster and human sin… We weep and despair is close at hand.
Then we are given a gift beyond our comprehension – the gift of life out of death – the Resurrection! If death does not win – if Jesus lives – then there is hope – a hope nothing can extinguish. Then we can face the tears and despair with a promise that life is possible in, through and beyond the suffering, despair and death. At Easter Vigil we bring the Paschal candle into a dark church – one small flickering flame of promise that lights the tapers of each person as they enter – and soon the darkness is banished as the light spreads to every corner and the Exultet is sung – ‘The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, bring mourners joy.’
Every year we need to be reminded that despite what we see, despite the continued suffering and pain and extent of human evil, God is in the midst of this world bringing life out of death, freeing us from the powers that would bind us – including ourselves – and asking us to share in the work of the liberating, life-giving Good News of God’s love and invitation to live in God’s freedom.
Every Easter – the very first words from our mouths of that day should be ‘The Lord is Risen – Alleluia!’ and those who hear you are invited to respond, ‘The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!’ – a shout of defiant joy to the powers of darkness that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Love wins!