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‘Christ is risen’ – Rev. Judy Henderson Smith

‘Christ is risen!’

‘He is risen indeed, Alleluia!’

Since the earliest days of the church, Christians have used this greeting on Easter Sunday. It will ring out across the world again this year and for the following six weeks, as we re-affirm the wonder and mystery of the resurrection.

Christians feel profound joy on this most special of days. In many countries, processions and celebrations take place.

But, in the Gospels, we read that the disciples were scattered, most having fled from Jerusalem for fear of arrest. The women went to the tomb at very first light, before anyone else was up for fear of being recognised. And, they were so terrified by the events that they experienced there that they ran away (Mark 16:1-8).

The women at the tomb felt abandoned by the other disciples and by their Lord. Perhaps their experience chimes with those living in countries where to be a Christian means to be persecuted or attacked? At Easter, the Christians in these countries feel joy in their hearts but cannot celebrate openly for fear of reprisals. Perhaps they can identify more easily with the emotions of the disciples on that first Easter Sunday than we in this country are able to do?

This same sense of abandonment may be experienced by those entering the prison system; they hear the door slam shut and feel desolate as they realise they are cut off from the outside world. However much bravado they display, at heart they are confused and afraid.

In the Biblical account, the women later found their Lord had risen and they rejoiced. In the same way we, alongside the Chaplains working within the prison system, can bring the Easter message of love and hope to those who feel abandoned and afraid. We proclaim Christ crucified and raised, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). We realise that, but for the grace of God, we might be in the same position as they are and we can rejoice that Christ died for us all (Romans 5:8).

Many are worried and unsettled by current world events; ongoing wars, many countries facing elections and a constant barrage of bad news in the media. It may breed a deep sense of insecurity. We live in a world which has largely abandoned listening to the voice of God and we fear for the future. But Easter brings us the hope of renewal and restoration as we experience again the joy of God with us.

As we minister to others, God sows the seeds of hope for the future in all our hearts. On our own we can do nothing. But, with the power of God working through us, we bring His light and hope in the dark places. May we stand in confidence with Christians around the world and those in prison, as we proclaim again, ‘Christ is risen!’ ‘He is risen indeed, Alleluia.’        

Rev. Judy Henderson Smith is a PF local Group Leader, Sycamore Tree facilitator and Letter Link writer.

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