Reflection on Matthew 28:1-10
Easter Sunday, 12th April 2020
I have spent a good part of the last few days listening to Test Match Special as they have been rerunning the incredible Headingly Ashes Test Match of last Summer. If you’re not familiar with this particular cricket match, suffice to say England beat Australia when they had absolutely no right to do so, all thanks to some unbelievable batting from Ben Stokes. At the time it was widely hailed as the greatest performance on a cricket pitch of all time, and a year later little has changed.
The strange thing about listening to the match again this week, and particularly as England were slowly creeping improbably towards their target of 359 on Saturday, was that even though I knew the outcome – I’d listened to it happen a year earlier – I still felt the whole rollercoaster of emotions that I’d felt first time round!
Great stories, great events, great achievements can do that to us. There is a series on the BBC World Service at the moment about Apollo 13 and again I know the outcome (they are interviewing the astronauts so they must have got home safely!) but it’s still tense as they face impossible odds trying to make it back to earth in one piece.
The Easter story is one of those great stories that we can tell and retell and still find ourselves outraged with the disciples as Jesus is arrested, heartbroken as his lifeless body is taken down from the cross, astonished as the women find the tomb empty. It’s an incredible story that bears repeating.
But, of course, the Easter story is more than just a story. It’s not like Ben Stokes hitting Pat Cummins through the covers to level the series, or Jim Lovell piloting the lunar module back to earth. This is a story which resonates across the ages, bringing healing, peace and transformation to lives and communities the world over. It’s no surprise that our whole history is divided into things that happened before and after Jesus.
We see echoes of this story in the sacrifices being made daily by health care professionals putting themselves at risk to help others and by the many other key workers in farms and factories and schools and shops working, often under difficult circumstances, to keep society going. We see echoes of this story in the self-denying generosity being shown by billions of people around the world staying at home in order to avoid spreading the virus to the most vulnerable among us. We see echoes of this story in the countless acts of neighbourly love that have flourished in recent weeks.
This is a story that lives all around us, so take time to let it stir you today. What emotions do you feel as you read it? What encouragements do you take from it? What strength do you find in it?
This is not just any old story, this is the story. It’s the story that tells us that no matter what we’ve done, God is with us. It’s the story that tells us that whatever grief, or sorrow, or shame or guilt we may feel, God is with us. It’s the story that tells us that even through and beyond death, God is with us.
Have a happy and blessed Easter. Rev’d Rich
Alleluia, Christ is risen: He is risen indeed, alleluia!