Easter message from the Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth

The Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster
The Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster
Janet Cooper with her beloved retriever Trudy, left, daughter Elaine Markley and husband Frank

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Whenever I go to schools and ask the children what’s important about Easter, someone will say ‘Easter Eggs!’

And it’s true that chocolate and Easter go hand in hand these days.

But for those of us who follow the Christian faith, there’s a whole lot more to Easter than that.

The Easter story is an unusual one.

Jesus is nailed to a cross and dies, and then the people bury him in a tomb.

On the third day, the women go down to the tomb to anoint the body, and they find the tomb empty.

Mary sees a man walking in the gardens, and, mistaking him for the gardener, she asks if he knows where they have taken Jesus’ body.

The man turns, and calls her by name.

And suddenly she realises that this man is Jesus, who has risen from the tomb and is alive. It’s a strange twist in an already strange story, when one of the people closest to Jesus fails to recognise him when he stands in front of her.

But the same thing happens again later that day – a stranger joins the disciples on a long walk to a town called Emmaus. And it’s only when they invite him to eat with them, and he shares bread and wine and blesses them, that they realise they have spent all that day with Jesus.

That twist in the story is important, because whenever Christians meet someone we don’t know, it raises a question in our minds.

Whether someone is dressed expensively or in rags, young or old, highly brilliant or without qualifications, we need to offer hospitality, remembering that when the disciples welcomed a stranger, they found that Jesus was present with them even though they hadn’t realised it.

So Happy Easter.

Enjoy the chocolate and the fun.