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Easter reflection by Pastor Andrew Stewart-Darling

This sounds like the start of a very bad joke, but a man walks into a Jewellers and says, “I’d like to buy a cross”. The shop assistant obligingly pulls out an assortment of crosses and says, “We have these in silver and we’ve even got one with a little man on it.”

Now this little man is the reason for Easter.

But, to be kind, if you’ve no religious knowledge, how would you know? Yet, wrap him in a cloth, picture him as a baby in a manager with some people standing around with tea towels on their heads and you could just work out that it’s meant to be Jesus.

Let me just switch to another scene, and this will sound a little crazy, but bear with me, it’s Easter!

Around 2,000 years in a rubbish tip outside a city in a Middle East this same little man was put on a much bigger cross, something the Romans used a lot to control enemies of the State. Historical sources tell us that there was nothing extraordinary about his appearance. So why do we bother to even remember this event?

Okay, so let’s tap and unwrap this, much like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Jesus, the son of a peasant girl called Mary, was known to be a revolutionary preacher, someone who challenged the rights of the poor and spoke out against injustice. Someone who didn’t put up with the hypocrisy of self-important leaders.

He was the original little man with a big heart. But there was so much more to him.

Independent Roman and Jewish sources record that he went around performing miraculous signs and claiming to be the Son of God. I said it was going to get a little crazy.

He said things like “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” as well as “When you have lifted up the son of man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be.”

He went on to talk about how he must suffer, die and rise again on the third day to bring salvation to the world. I mean, honestly, you couldn’t make it up. And this is the point.

After his resurrection hundreds of people are recorded seeing this dead man walk, talk and even eat fish by a lake before being taken up into Heaven.

But, it doesn’t stop there.

These people then tell other people and because their testimony is verifiable, thousands more believe that Jesus is, indeed, the risen son of God. They are even willing to die painful deaths for it.

Now, I think Steve Job, founder of Apple was a genius, but however much I admire him, I am not going to die for him just to keep his memory or his company in business. And I am not really sure how by claiming he is not really dead would help make the world a better place anyway.

But with Jesus it is different because the eye-witnesses see and believe how he is life itself, the source of life, the beginning and end of life, and all the bits in the middle.

I know what you are thinking, “You would say that, that’s your job, you’re a pastor, you’re just trying to get me to go to church.” Busted! You’ve got me! But, actually, that’s not really my first concern. I am working on an assumption that we’re all looking for answers in life, some ideas on how to fix our marriages, how to bring up our kids, what to get a grip on our character flaws, how to deal with grief.

And this is why Easter matters.

It’s the physical resurrection of Jesus that gives hope and, besides that, anyone who can do that is worth knowing, right? It means there’s someone we can put our trust in, someone bigger than ourselves. It means prayers get answered.

So maybe he’s not such a little man at all.

Happy Easter!

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Stour Valley Vineyard Church’s Easter Sunday service is at 10.30am at the Delphi Centre, Newton Road. Arrive from 10 am for fresh coffee and Hot Cross Buns. Easter Egg Hunt for your children and chocolates for everyone else. Please allow time to park.

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