Easter is the climax of the Christian year, demonstrated in the fact that, along with Good Friday, all four Gospels carry an account of its events. After Good Friday’s sadness and despair, and the fear and uncertainty of Silent Saturday, a new realisation begins to dawn on the disciples. The women take spices to the tomb, wondering how they are going to gain access beyond the stone in the entrance, only to discover that the stone has already been rolled away. Angels greet them and tell them, ‘You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is not here – He has been raised from the dead. Go and tell His disciples, including Peter.’

At first the male disciples refuse to believe the women, thinking they are telling idle tales, but Peter and John set out for the tomb to see if any of this is true. They discover the tomb as the women said, with the grave clothes folded on it and the cloth that was round Jesus’ head folded separately. Peter is bewildered, but we read that John saw and believed.

Mary Magdalene also encounters the risen Lord in the garden near the tomb. Then in the evening two disciples walk out to Emmaus and encounter Jesus, unrecognised by them, on the road. They invite Him in for a meal, and as He breaks bread He is revealed to them. They hurry back to Jerusalem, and as they spill out their message of good news, the other disciples are eager to share that Jesus has met with them also in the Upper Room, offering them His peace.

Many Easter celebrations begin with a vigil through the night, or for the last part of the night, before dawn, when the rising Son is welcomed and praised at the time of the rising sun. Easter services leave behind the bareness and austerity of Lent and churches are filled with flowers, colour and rejoicing. ‘Christ is risen!’ ‘He is risen indeed! Alleluia!’ The Christ who offered His body in broken bread on Maundy Thursday, whose body was broken on the cross on Good Friday, whose body of followers was broken in grief and fear on Silent Saturday, brings joy, wholeness and gladness to all His people, with the promise that they will rise to new life with Him.

All praise to You, Glorious and Blessed God, for revealing Your mighty power in raising Jesus, Your Son, from death. All praise to You that, as a result of His obedience and faithful love, those who believe and trust in Him are promised that this same mighty power is available to us in living our lives. All praise to You for the promise that we shall be included in Christ’s resurrection, being freed from the power of death and granted the gift of eternal life. By Your grace, help us to take hold of these blessings each and every day. Amen.