This Sunday is Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of what is often called Holy week, culminating in Easter. For many here at RAAF Wagga all that means is a great long weekend which will allow them to go home and catch up with family and friends. But surely there is more to it than that? This is the core of Christian life and practice yet as I try to express what Easter means to me I struggle to find the right words. That is a worry, because I’m not usually lost for words!
So, to go back to basics, the Bible tells the story of this week as being a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, triumphant entry followed by arrest, punishment and death, and when they least expected it triumph – resurrection! When we are struggling with why God allows pain, suffering and death, we need to remember that Good Friday is a stark reminder of the fact that God will not abandon us in those times. Because that was not the end of the story, out of the darkness of Good Friday comes the bright hope of Easter Sunday – life out of death!
So how come things have not changed? Good question! Philip Yancey tells the story of Harry Boer, a chaplain during the World War II who spent the final days of the war among the marines in the Pacific theatre. “The second Division saw much action with great losses,” he writes. “Yet I never met an enlisted man or an officer who doubted for a moment the outcome of the war. Nor did I ever meet a marine who asked why, if victory was so sure, we couldn’t have it immediately. It was just a question of slogging it through till the enemy gave up.” (Grace Notes, p112)
The enemy was defeated that first Easter, we are celebrating that fact, even as we continue to suffer the pain and frustration of an ongoing war. Don’t lose heart, a God who loved us enough to die for us will not leave us desolate. So if you are struggling, take some time this Holy Week to consider what Easter means to you and maybe for the first time in your life experience a sense of the joy it can bring. If you are not sure how to put all that together maybe you could join with other believers at your local church this Sunday or sometime over this Easter weekend.
Chaplain Ian S Whitley