Meeting with Jesus is what Easter is all about. But it isn’t simply a historic event in the sense of being in the past rather than something that happens in the present.
At one of our schools, we have a beautifully simple phrase that the school says together. It’s simple and profound, rather than simplistic. The words we use when we gather for an assembly, before our team bring another Bible story to act out for the school (using the scheme called ‘Open The Book’, courtesy of The Bible Society), have an important lesson to remember. The words as the assembly starts are as follows:
‘With gladness are we gathered, to meet together here.
With Jesus in the midst of us, unseen but very near. Amen.’
[Used at Christ Church First School].
It’s an easily memorable introduction to worship. Some might dismiss it as a quaint ditty to reel off each time just to let everyone know we are starting. It does let everyone know. But it is so much more important than that! For it reminds us of the joyful news of Easter that he is alive, and we can still meet with him today. Let me explain.
The first disciples got a very big shock. On the third day after Jesus had died, it was resurrection day! Jesus was very definitely dead since the soldiers had checked, and they were experts at executions. Jesus was very definitely buried in a tomb, as the huge stone covering the entrance ensured and the special Roman seal and guards posted prevented tampering. But Jesus was very definitely alive! It wasn’t resuscitation or revivification.
It was a resurrection! The great privilege for Mary of meeting Jesus was to be able to declare: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ (John 20v18). The rest of the disciples were also eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus and told Thomas (the one missing disciple) about this: ‘We have seen the Lord!’ (John 20v25). Thomas himself was sceptical about what they said and wanted to see and touch Jesus for himself. On meeting the risen Jesus, he said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20v28).
So, our short whole school introduction reminds us of a profound truth. We can meet with Jesus today because he rose again and lives forever. Is this something that you truly and genuinely believe? Will you consider the eyewitness testimonies? Will you come and join in our Easter events (see the cards posted in the parish detailing them). For it has huge implications in terms of daily life following him.
It’s for this reason that we can join in asking for God’s blessing as the fruit of such trust in him as used at the end of the school assemblies: ‘May God’s love surround us; may God’s joy be in our lives; and may God’s peace be in our hearts. Amen.’