The meaning of Easter and the Moderator's Easter prayer

Rev Colin Sinclair, minister to Palmerston Place Church of Scotland, Edinburgh, and Moderator of the Presbytery of Edinburgh gives us his thoughts on Easter and the Moderator Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr shares his Easter prayer.

It is important that the full story of Easter is told because no weekend has changed the world more than the first Easter.

Easter Rising
Easter Rising at Traprain Law in East Lothian photographed by David P. Scott.

For Christians, the story of the death of Jesus, Good Friday, and then his resurrection, Easter Day, lie at the heart of their faith. We call Friday “Good Friday,” even though nothing done to Jesus on that day was “good”.

Looking back, in light of his resurrection, we now understand his death was for us.

He came to break down the barriers that lie between humankind and God.

He offers not a new start to life but a new life to start, promising forgiveness for our failures, healing for our hurts and hope for the future.

It is a story that turns so much of what we think upside down.

Jesus shows us that God is not distant, impersonal and detached, but could be vulnerable, suffer, be rejected and unjustly put to death.

So often in times of human crises people ask, “Where is God?”

Good Friday stands as a reminder that God understands.

He is “one of us” and has been to the darkest places of human experience. He too asked “Why?” and was met by silence and darkness, mocking and jeers.

However, something deeper was going on that day.

His cruel death was not the victory for evil that many thought. It was not simply a martyr’s death.

Jesus came to show us what God was like by his life, example and teaching. Jesus came to die for us, in our place, bearing our sins, to deal decisively with the way sin and selfishness taint so much of life. As for the resurrection, what a turnaround!

No-one was expecting this.

The gospel records invite enquiry. Where did the body go? Who took it and why?

What changed the disciples? Why did they change their worship from Saturday, (Sabbath) to Sunday, (the Lord’s Day) a working day?

For the early church the answer was clear and glorious. Death did not have the last word. Love is stronger than hate. Jesus lives.

The Moderator's Easter prayer

This is the day the Lord has made

the day hope comes striding from an empty tomb

the day joy comes dancing through grief and pain

With glad and thankful hearts

we join with Christian people the world over
and with the saints in heaven

to bless You for the dying and undying love
of our Saviour Christ

for the Lord is risen

he is risen indeed

Wherever conflict flares

roll back the stone

and let Your people find peace

in the triumph of the Prince of Peace

Wherever Your people are oppressed

roll back the stone

and let Your people find freedom

in the good news of an empty tomb.

Wherever Your people are sick, mourning or in need

roll back the stone

and let this day of Resurrection

bring healing, comfort and hope

For a new day has dawned

and the way to life stands open

in the rising to life of life itself

our Saviour Christ

Hallelujah

Amen

The Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr