EASTER will soon be upon us, bunnies will emerge from hiding and eggs will be hidden around the house for children to find. It is a time of great fun, particularly for children.
So who would want to talk about a man being tortured to death 2000 years ago and then supposedly rising from the dead.
I, for one, would.
I have learnt in my body what I knew in my head and heart these past fifteen months more fully than I ever have before that suffering never has the final word, that darkness, pain, suffering, sorrow, grief, shame, regret and sadness, need never define our lives or govern our sense of wellbeing.
I have learned that one can rise above it all and still be happy, still give oneself to others, still love, still laugh and rejoice in the goodness that one is experiencing and which one sees all around oneself.
For Christians, this is the gift of Easter, the gift of Jesus dying and then rising from the dead, and his sharing that experience with us.
Easter is a great feast of hope.
Today, too many people cannot see beyond what is going wrong in their lives and lose their hope for the future.
Too many give up and settle for only half-living, others try to flee from what they are going through and try to ease their pain by turning to alcohol, drugs, or sex, in unhealthy ways.
None of this works, of course.
Happiness can only be discovered in our hearts and it is always intimately associated with love.
If we lose our hope and our capacity to love, and our willingness to love, then our lives certainly become bleak and dark, and some finally decide it is not worth living, which is an incredible tragedy.
Hope does not come naturally to us, but if we accept the message of Easter, then we find in there a reason to keep going.
We find grounds for believing that we can get out of our mess and find our way forward because we will not be doing it alone, we can be sustained by God throughout it all.
This is why Easter is about more than bunnies and eggs, as much fun as these are.
It is about the very heart of our lives, and about the very grounds for living through the storms and dark moments of our lives.
I hope that this Easter each one of you will discover what the message is for you, and will find new hope, new joy and new peace because of it.
BISHOP MICHAEL PUTNEY
Bishop Putney died on March 28.