Dear friends,

Easter is usually a time for gathering together. We do this within our churches to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and also beyond Church as people gather to enjoy shared company, and spring-time weather. Sadly, we are not quite sure how long it will be until we can do these things again, and so I wanted to write a letter of greeting at this time when life is difficult, to say the least.

There are a number of words which have occurred to me over
these past weeks, and I think “uncertainty” is probably one which is towards the top of the list. Whilst each of us lives with a degree of uncertainty from day-to-day in ordinary times, we are now in an uncertain situation affecting all of us. We may find that this brings with it emotions which may be unexpected, and it can be hard to maintain optimism for ourselves and for our world.

There are, however, other contrasting words which are present for us in the Easter season, and which continue to be central to
Christian faith. We often speak of ‘Easter joy’, and ‘Easter hope’, as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

Both phrases reflect the disciples’ meetings with the risen Christ. They had renewed joy in his presence, and found hope in the future that he brought to them. This would not mean that their future earthly lives would be easy, or that uncertainty would vanish. It did not mean that, in human terms, all would be safe and secure – quite the opposite! But it did mean that they could serve faithfully because of what
had been witnessed, and what they now knew to be true.

‘Joy’ should not be seen as an easy word which describes a
superficial experience of happiness. It is not a false-smile which we have to maintain, even when times are perplexing. It is, rather, that deeper sense that even in situations around us which seem closer to Good Friday that Easter Sunday, still we may find joy in the presence of God.

This leads us to have hope that beyond the present moment with its anxiety and distress, we may have faith in the risen Christ who has shown us that light is stronger even than the darkness in which we may feel engulfed.

As we strive for faith, and as we rejoice in faith, feelings of
uncertainty may not necessarily be taken away, or all fears
relieved. But through amazing grace we are provided with that
continuing hope of being held now and for ever in the arms of
God who loves us.

With Easter greetings and every blessing at this challenging time.

A cross with the text He is risen

Reverend Stephen Maunder