Christ is Still Risen

(Thought for the Day on Radio Ulster, Easter Monday 21st April 2014)
Alleluia. Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!   Alleluia!
With those words Christian churches across the English-speaking world began or ended their services yesterday. But let me let you into a secret… There are many pastors, priests and preachers who, by the end of the last service yesterday, were secretly thinking Alleluia! It is over…
Because whilst Holy Week and Easter is THE most important week of the Christian calendar, it can end up like the spiritual equivalent of a decathlon… with services throughout the week, prayer meetings, home communions, extended vigils on Good Friday and early morning services yesterday, often followed by baptisms, communions and/or special Easter celebration services… Some of my friends think that Holy Week is the only week of the year I do a full week’s work…
But many ministers down tools on Easter Monday for a few days, and frequently take the Sunday after Easter off. That Sunday has traditionally been called “Low Sunday” and although the origin of that term is uncertain, it is often marked by low attendances at church services, so it is clearly not just the minister taking a Sunday off!
Yet for all that, I found myself, on Easter Monday, getting up at stupid o’clock to do Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Ulster (and for the second time in a year they didn't tell me that the programme started an hour later than usual, meaning that I had actually got up even earlier than I needed to!) and heading from there to do a chaplaincy round at the hospital… There is no virtue in that on my part, as I was simply deferring the start of my few days off until this afternoon…
However, the former Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, argues that this practice of taking time off immediately after Easter devalues its significance as a Christian festival… He suggests that the importance of Christ’s resurrection and the message of hope within it is more than a one-day wonder… It completely changed the disciples from a bunch of frightened fishermen and family members huddled in a locked attic room, fearful that they would go the same way as Jesus… into people who were prepared to preach about Jesus on the doorsteps of those who had killed him… It has turned the entire world upside down… Without the resurrection, Good Friday would be anything but good, Jesus’ birth in a Bethlehem byre would have been long forgotten and the entire calendar would have been dated differently… Not only that, but the many things that have happened in his name over the past 2000 years, good and not so good, might never have occurred…
It is great to join in the celebrations of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday… but the question is, what difference does it make to your life and mine on Easter Monday, and later on, when the chocolate eggs are all eaten and the strains of Thine be the glory have faded away?
Christ is STILL risen. He is risen indeed… Alleluia.


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