The Times today runs the second of a two-part series on Easter from the Howick Christian Leaders Network, a network of Christian Leaders representing more than 70 churches working across the Howick ward area.
We live in angry times. While there is plenty of evidence that that life is better than it has ever been in history taking into account life expectancy, average income and a decrease in global poverty, there are days when it seems like our world is getting more violent.
Wars rage on beyond the headlines. The age of extremism channelled by readily available media brings terrorists up close and personal, whether white supremacists or ISIS “wannabes”.
Brutality invades our neighbourhoods as domestic violence crouches behind the curtains of our middle class respectability. And senseless, criminal acts happen all too often to people we know too well.
Our own anger spills over into the social spaces we inhabit, real or virtual. We live in an age where anger has become digital but no less tangible. “Outrage porn” floods our newsfeeds and twitter streams. Quite how Harambe, a Silverback from Cincinnati, became a focus for an online outpouring of rage against delinquent parents, entitled children, a negligent zoo, shooters who shot too quick and Harambe himself, remains a mystery. Mob rule. We live in angry times.
The first Easter had its own angry times. The context was a hostile occupation of historic Israel by Imperial Rome. An undercurrent of fear and resentment tainted everyday life and a simmering anger at God for seemingly leaving Israel to its fate.
Into this world, was born Jesus of Nazareth who, after a big entrance at Christmas, lived a quiet, unremarkable life as a carpenter.
Jesus, one of history’s most influential figures, who blessed the meek as inheritors of the earth in the Beatitudes; called us to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount; and distilled the heart of spiritual life into two imperatives, the love of God and neighbour.
This Jesus became the target of his generation’s anger and the victim of mob rule.
The group-think of the religious elites of Jesus’ time called him out as a radical dissenter.
The Roman rulers, through the Governor Pontius Pilate, used him to quell local unrest. The mob who when given the choice of clemency to Jesus, a gentle humble man, or Barabbas, a convicted criminal, chose the insurrectionist over the pacifist.
Once again, the first Easter challenges the current season. Jesus’ death on the Cross and his resurrection divided history, but at the heart of his selfless death, Jesus was seeking a grand reconciliation. For Jesus, death on the Cross was a path to peace and reconciliation.
Reconciliation of humanity with God and reconciliation of neighbour with neighbour. It’s a different vision for our world that starts with the horror of execution but finishes with the hope of resurrection.
By the mob but for the mob. It’s a strange irony that human anger paved the way for Jesus to offer each of us peace with God and one another.
This Easter will we who live in angry times surrender to the mob or choose Jesus’ path of hope and reconciliation with God and each other? Praying for a peace-filled Easter.
By Rev Brett Jones – Senior Pastor cession|community www.cession.org.nz
- You’d be very welcome to join one of our churches this Easter for a Good Friday or Easter Sunday service or join us at 6.30am on Easter Sunday on Stockade Hill for a dawn Easter service.