What better way to proclaim the good news of Easter, thought a curate in York, than to get some banners printed to hang outside the church. According to the BBC the printing company made one small mistake; instead of ‘Christ is Risen’ one of the banners proclaimed a different message – ‘Chris is Risen.’ The curate was quick to point out that the Baptist minister down the road, who is called Chris, has to get up for a 6:30 am service on Easter Sunday, a service that his predecessor managed to miss in 2015.
Getting up in time for church on Easter Sunday may be more of a challenge this year as the clocks go forward depriving us all of an hour of sleep. But how early would we be prepared to rise just to spend time in the presence of God? That first Easter Day saw three women on their way to the tomb at sunrise. While walking they realised that they would not be able to enter the tomb to attend to Jesus’ body because of the large rock that had been placed across the entrance.
When the women arrived they discovered that the rock had been moved. They entered the tomb to find the body missing and a young man clothed in white sitting inside (Mark 16:1-8). The man, apparently an angel, spoke to the women advising that Jesus had risen from the dead. The women were given instructions to tell Peter and the disciples that Jesus would meet with them in Galilee. Slightly freaked out by this experience the ladies legged it. Later Peter and John would also visit the tomb. Do you find it strange that the women were able to get up early and the disciples were not? Perhaps the disciples were still overwhelmed with grief, but somewhere in the turmoil of emotions all had forgotten what Jesus had told them.
There were then several encounters with the risen Jesus, from the Emmaus Road and the Upper Room to a breakfast meeting on a Galilean beach. Jesus did several things before He ascended to the Father. Firstly he made sure to restore Peter. Then He told the disciples to remain in the city and wait for the Holy Spirit to fill them with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Finally he commissioned the disciples instructing them to make new disciples from all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
It is the commissioning bit that church today is not terribly good at. We meet, we worship, we encourage each other, and all the other stuff that we believe is part of being a good Christian. But generally we fall down badly when it comes to sharing our faith. If Christ is risen, then surely we should be bursting to share the news? Do our lives and our faces tell the world that we are different? Is the difference in us attractive?
In his book ‘More’ Simon Ponsonby quotes various distinguished theologians who agree that Pentecost was the birth of both the church and mission. Simon writes; ‘We must be careful not to pray “Come Holy Spirit” unless we are prepared to “Go with the Holy Spirit.”’ This raises the following questions:
- Have we been blessed through a personal Pentecost?
- If not, why not?
- Having received the Holy Spirit are we proactively sharing our faith?
- If not, why not?
Christ is risen! Surely we don’t need to hang banners outside our churches to tell the world what Easter is all about? It should be written all over our faces.