April /May 17

Dear Friends,

Easter is our next great celebration in the Church Year.  When we sing hymns such as “Jesus Christ is risen today” each line finishes with a resounding “Hallelujah!” to emphasise our joy at the news of the Resurrection.  “Hallelujah!” comes to us from two Hebrew words which are combined to mean “Praise the Lord” which is used in more recent translations of the Bible.  For example, take a look at Psalm 148.  Wherever it is used in a Psalm, “Hallelujah!” is exhorting people to join together in praising God.  Within Christianity the word has been used over many centuries during worship throughout the year except during Lent.  That means Easter is the first occasion when it can be used after a period of congregations abstaining from saying  “Hallelujah!” (it is not just chocolate which is given up for Lent! ) 

But…. however much passion we might put into saying a word, the true meaning comes through how we feel.  Events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago were joyful for the large number of pilgrims who went to the Holy City with a clear intention of celebrating Passover.  After all, Jewish history taught them about ways in which their ancestors were oppressed whilst kept as slaves in Egypt.  The unrelenting might of Egyptian overlords who held descendants of Abraham in slavery created a dark period.  Through miracles and guided by Moses, freedom came at a price when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of God’s People yet struck great tragedy in Egyptian homes where the firstborn died.  Even though Jews celebrate Passover each year, they still remember those Egyptian deaths with sorrow.

There are ways in which our celebration of Easter also recalls sadness.  As Holy Week commences at Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was greeted like a king, we are reminded of how that moment of triumph was to turn into plotting and intrigue against him.  Eventually we reach a point where Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, put through a mockery of trials, beaten, humiliated and crucified.  After such a catalogue of unhappiness, we rejoice when we hear the Easter message telling us of an empty tomb, angels and meetings with our risen Lord.  Jesus has been restored to life and there are no more bonds of death to hold us back.  Indeed, then, we are right to proclaim   “Hallelujah!” 

May this Easter time warm your hearts and put fresh strength into your faith.

Your Minister and friend,

John.

 


Messenger 17
Webpage icon February/March 17
Printer Printable Version