Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by life. I mean overwhelmed with sheer delight at the wonder of life: the sight of a spring flower, the sound of a new born child the joy of laughter, the love of friends and family. Life is a gift. It’s a beautiful and precious.
Sometimes, though, I’m overwhelmed by the struggles of life: pressures of work, demands of family, worries of health, anxieties about money, now and in the future, the troubles of the world: covid, cost of living, climate change, conflicts around the world and now a terrible and terrifying war in Europe.
It can feel as if the gift of life is being stolen by dark forces of death – forces that seem to have it in their power to overwhelm life and take it away.
That’s how it felt to Jesus’s friends, followers and family. ‘I’ve come so that you may have life, and have it in fullness, overwhelming abundance’, said Jesus.
Those around him found that fulness of life coming close to them and lifting them up. The rejected were accepted. The deaf, blind and lame – heard, saw and walked. The guilty forgiven. The unloved, loved.
But then anti-life attacked Jesus. Threatened by his goodness, some hated him. The unjust tried him, unfairly. The violent killed him, cruelly. And the bright day of hope turned dark: despair filled the air.
Until, that is, a woman – a weeping woman at the side of a grave – heard her name being spoken by a familiar voice: ‘Mary!’. He was alive. Jesus was risen from the dead. Life – God’s gift of life – was too strong to be gripped by death for ever. Life triumphed. ‘The son has risen with healing in his wings’, says the ancient biblical prophecy, and the churches proclaim across the world, ‘Christ is risen!’.
‘War is war, but flowers still need to be planted’, say the gardeners in Kyiv today, as they tend the seeds that were brought to life by the warmth of the sun and plant the flowers that revive the soul. Nothing will stop spring coming to Kyiv.
Life will triumph. That’s the Easter message. May you know that unconquerable power of life – God’s gift of life – in your life this Easter and always, the life that’s stronger than death.