EASTER in the Christian Church is a time when nothing is quite what it seems.
It all starts with a meal shared between friends, which should be a safe and caring place. Jesus meets with his disciples, who are his closest friends.
But around that meal table, Jesus identifies Judas as the one who will betray him. Suddenly the meal between friends becomes a very unsafe place indeed: a place of scheming and of evil intentions.
Then there is a kiss. Normally people kiss when they want to show love or desire or intimacy with another person. But in the Easter story, Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss, using this apparent gesture of love to indicate to the soldiers who they should arrest.
So Jesus is arrested and tortured and nailed to a cross and killed. But then the miraculous happens: he rises from the dead through the power of love. So the cross – the ultimate symbol of agony and death – is suddenly seen in a new light.
Death on the cross is not quite what it seems. It becomes a symbol of love, because through the cross we learn that love is more powerful than hatred and even more powerful than death.
The story of the events culminating in Jesus’ death and resurrection teaches us to look afresh at the world.
I’m sure many of us have had the experience of sitting down for a meal with a group of people who purport to love us, and struggling with the tensions that simmer away invisibly but tangibly just below the jovial surface.
I’m sure many of us understand what it means to be betrayed with a kiss – to have someone seem to show us affection when actually we know that they do not love us or perhaps even mean us harm.
And perhaps a few us of us know too, that the times in life that hurt the most can often be the times when we are just on the cusp of new life.
Perhaps we have left a relationship that is destructive, or been left by someone, and felt the pain of the breakdown, only to discover our strength as a single person or in a new and better relationship.
The cross teaches us to be unafraid of our pain: to listen to it, trusting that it will teach us the way forward in life.
So this Easter I pray that your pain may become the source of your deepest blessing, and that you may encounter in your challenges the possibility of new life.
I wish you a joyful and hopeful Easter.