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Easter Message 2010 from The Rt Revd Norman A. Grigg Bishop of the Methodist Church The Gambia

Apr 7, 2010, 5:00 PM

EASTER JOY

It's my privilege to bring you Easter greetings on behalf of the Methodist Church in The Gambia and to pray that the joy that Christians have at this time may be a joy that can be shared by everyone.

In about ten weeks time, on June 11th 2010, the World Cup finals start. Forty eight countries have reached this stage and the eyes of the world will be on South Africa as these teams compete for the most prestigious prize in football. Yet, there is only one World Cup and only one nation that will win, but you can be sure that whether that winning team is from Africa, Europe, America, Asia or Australasia, every man, woman and child from that winning country will share in the celebrations that are sure to follow the victory and that those celebrations will be long and ecstatic.

In the New Testament, in St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians chapter 15, the Resurrection of Jesus is described as a 'victory' and it says, 'Thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' and every year now, for over 2,000 years, Christians have continued the celebrations. And these victory celebrations are those which can be shared by all of us, as this is a victory of light over darkness, a victory of love over hate and a victory of life over death.

A Victory of Light over Darkness

You know the story well enough, that in the last week of Jesus's earthly ministry he was accused of being a threat to the establishment by both the religious authorities and the political authorities and he was sentenced to hang on a cross. It is said that at the moment of his death everything went dark. Certainly it was a dark moment for all his followers who thought that this was the end of all that he had preached. However, when the sun rose on the Sunday morning, the discovery was made by the women who went to his tomb that he had risen and what seemed like total darkness had become bathed in light.

Without the cross there could have been no resurrection and there are so many times in our lives when we are overwhelmed by things that go wrong. The belief that light overcomes darkness is an Easter message and surely a reason for celebrating. As is said  'it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness'  and to know that hope can be brought into situations which seem hopeless is something which this Easter message helps us to believe.

A Victory of Love over Hate

It is difficult to understand how Jesus, who talked about love and showed that love to everyone he met - from the smallest child to the most hardened criminal, to the sick and to the unloved - was hated by those who mocked him, spat on him and ordered his death. Yet this is what happened and the Easter message proclaims that however much it seems that evil has won the final victory belongs to love.

In Romans Chapter 8 it puts it this way 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ Jesus? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or the sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.'

A Victory of Life over Death

Then there is the ultimate message of Easter that our lives don't just end up in the cemetery but that there is victory even over death itself.

All of his followers thought that the end had come for Jesus when he was dying on the cross, yet the Easter story of resurrection made them realize that even death hadn't conquered him or his message. He was alive and with them, enabling them to have a confidence in life that went beyond the limits of time and space.

There is a well known saying, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, which states 'You can please all of the people some of the time, you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time' and there are some who just can't see anything worth celebrating, even when victory is staring them in the face.

Jesus once said 'I have come that you may have life and have it in all its fullness', meaning that our lives are to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest extent and that we can have a joy that is deeper than shallow laughter and false smiles. And it's Easter that gives the message clear and plain that we can have the assurance of a spiritual dimension to it all.

Conclusion

Easter tells us that light and love and life always win and I hope and pray that it makes sense to you, that this is worth living for and believing in and, in the words of Scripture, found in the prophet Isaiah and quoted by St Paul, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your victory?  O death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'

It's a victory we can all share and I trust that your Easter holiday will be a celebration to remember. May God richly bless you and your family and may you know something of the joy of life that the Easter message brings.

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