by Gerald Partridge, Christ Church, Oakworth
EASTER: the word derives from an old English word meaning a goddess of spring, the season of new life.
At a local nursing home my wife and I and the residents have witnessed duck eggs hatching out: one moment the eggs were intact and apparently lifeless, the next there was a brood of ducklings which seemed far too large to have fitted into their recent 'homes'.
The resurrection of Jesus shows parallels: it is an abrupt change. In one sense we can imagine the standard Christian doctrines of forgiveness for the sins of the world to have been accomplished by the “sacred head sore wounded” and the words from the cross of “it is finished”. Why the resurrection: is it just a happy ending tacked on?
The clue is in the phrase, Jesus Christ.
Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure but the Jesus that St Paul met on the Damascus road was anything but. He was the risen Christ, not 'seen' as far as we know, by Paul’s companions, but a complete life-changing presence of a person who was now the Messiah, the revelation of God.
The church was up and running even before St Paul’s encounter and before any gospels, as we know them, were penned.
The early documents of the New Testament were written by St Paul. He wasn’t argued into faith: he made sense of this encounter with the 'risen' Christ Jesus and worked backwards. He realised that he, Paul, was the “chief of sinners” but that he was offered complete forgiveness and a new life which he took with enthusiasm.
Many believe that encounter and that life is available today.