Easter and the Unseen Obvious

April 1st is traditionally referred to as “April Fool’s Day.” It’s beloved of practical jokers everywhere.  The idea is that before midday you are allowed to play tricks on people, try and catch them out, fool with them.

One of my favourite April Fools was the day that a newspaper published an article announcing that Ian Rush was about to leave Liverpool to join their nearest and greatest rivals, Everton. That’s almost as bad as someone going from Bradford to Leeds or West Brom to Villa.  Or the time that a friend phoned and managed to convince his girlfriend that he was one of her professors and that he was calling to let Students know that the University’s main building had been declared unsafe and closed down meaning no exams. Continue reading

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The Day Inbetween

It’s Saturday, the day after Good Friday.  Jesus is in the tomb. The women can’t do anything because it is the Sabbath. They are bound by their religious beliefs to keep God’s Law. The disciples are bound by fear, they are terrified and in hiding. They are carrying a weight of shame and guilt. Continue reading

She gave everything

How would you react if the preacher asked you to give everything? This isn’t just a hypothetical question because that’s exactly the point I am going to come to!  I suspect that our immediate and natural response will include offence: “How dare he say that!” “He’s acting like those TV preachers.”

Then the honest despair. “I simply cannot give any more time, money, energy. I am exhausted with the busyness of life, I already give so much. There is literally nothing more to give.” Some of us may well even be burdened by this and trying to work out how we can give a bit more. Maybe if we made some sacrifices we will have a little bit more time or money to give if the church needs it. Continue reading

The shadow of the Cross crystallises whose agenda I am following

Sandwiched between Mark’s account of Jesus being anointed in Bethany (Mark 14:3-9) and his retelling of the Last Supper (Mark 14:12-31) we hear about Judas deciding to betray Jesus (Mark 14:10-11). He goes to the Chief Priests and offers his services. They are delighted to welcome him on board and offer to pay him. Continue reading

Easter – Comedy or Tragedy?

I love a good comedy whether it’s a sitcom like Not going Out, stand up provided by Live at the Apollo or a panel show like Mock the Week.  However, did you know that the word “Comedy” didn’t used to refer to a performance, routine or story that made you laugh?

When the ancient Greeks or William Shakespeare talked about comedy they were using the word to contrast with Tragedy. It’s fairly obvious what we mean by “Tragedy.” In Romeo and Juliet, the hero and heroine end up dead, taking their own lives. In Hamlet, pretty much every one dies.  Tragedies have sad endings where things are worse than at the beginning. Comedies on the other hand finish better than they started. For Shakespeare that mean that they finished with a wedding feast (e.g. Mid-Summer Night’s Dream). A comedy may have it’s ups and downs, there will be plenty of tears as well as laughter. There’ll be danger and death. Yet throughout a comedy there is hope.

The Easter story in that sense fits the “comedy” genre. It’s a story of love and courage as Jesus heads towards Calvary. There’s cowardice, desertion and betrayal. There’s tears, and there’s death. If the story had finished on Good Friday with Jesus’s execution then it would have looked like a Tragedy. But the story did not finish there for two reasons. Continue reading

The danger with character studies

What was it like for Barabbas as he walked out of that prison cell, not to his execution but to freedom? What motivated the women to stick close to the cross and be the first at the empty tomb after the men fled? What happened to the centurion who called Jesus  ” Son of God.” Did he become a believer? And what about Simon of Cyrene? What was it like to carry the cross for Jesus? Have you ever wanted to step into the shoes or get into the heads of those at the Cross.  Continue reading