• John Woods

Happy Easter


The Spectator is the oldest magazine in the world. It was first published in July 1858, taking its name from an earlier daily newspaper.


The magazine is still going strong and I always look forward to reading it each week. In each edition there is something to please, annoy, make me frown and make me smile. It is not always right in its opinions, but it does host a range of viewpoints.


The Spectator believes in free speech and the need to be honest about how we talk about issues that might be controversial or sensitive.


As a preacher I welcome the fact that it leaves more than one window open to the possibility that Christian faith might have something to say to us.


In the 26th of March edition it carried a very well-written letter by N.T. Wright (a former Bishop of Durham), on the biblical case for the whole biblical gospel being a catalyst for being genuinely inclusive. I am grateful that such a level of serious interaction is allowed in the magazine. The argument of the letter is more fully explored in an article on N.T. Wright’s official site


The Easter Special Edition of 2nd April has a brilliant Easter cover and a number of helpful Easter articles. I wonder whether in anticipating the second Easter of the Pandemic there is a greater openness to explore the place of the Christian faith in our contemporary society.


“Ultimately, transformation is what Easter is all about: a man bodily raised from the dead and returning in his new body — neither corpse nor ghost — to have breakfast with his friends. The ‘life after death’, as it is termed. Was a completely novel idea which became the basis of a hope that changed everything.”

(James Mumford “Believe it or Not” The Spectator Easter Special Edition 2nd April 2021)


I love the idea of a “hope that changed everything”. It reminds me of a comment that Timothy Keller makes in his new book on Easter:


“When Jesus rose from the dead he came as the first instalment of the power of God which will renew the world at the end of history.”


One influential Congregational preacher in 19th Century Birmingham had a vivid experience of the power of the Easter message. As a result, he decided that in the future he would start every Sunday morning with an Easter hymn.


Yes, Easter is a very big deal. Some of the preacher’s most important work is spelling out the central importance of Jesus dying on the cross and rising on the third day. This is our core message.


It has been wisely said that Christianity is not merely ‘good advice’, it is ‘good news’. One aspect of that good news is summed up in one of the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross: “finished”.


We live in a world of incompleteness. In Lockdown some people started to learn a language, play an instrument or take up walking 10,000 steps or running 5K a day. Some people have determined to eat healthier, drink less, post a daily blog, write a prize-winning novel, teach the world to sing…


How many of these dreams and projects remain unfinished? What about our desire to become a better, deeper or more compassionate person?


He said: “finished”. I have completed the work the Father has assigned.


“Everything contributing to men’s salvation is in Christ and is not to be sought elsewhere … the perfection of salvation is contained in him.” (John Calvin)


Happy Easter!


He is risen.


He is risen indeed.


Hallelujah!



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