The message of Easter is the message of the Risen Lord, of his triumph over sin and death. It is a permanent message of hope for Christians and for humankind. The Easter story gives peace to all who accept it and make it a part of their lives. All people who live the Easter story are at peace with God, their neighbours and themselves. The peace of the Easter message reaffirms our faith in God’s divine providence and assures us that all is well.

Easter is the good news of the Resurrection. The good news is that God participates and shares in our suffering. God is not removed from our stresses and anxieties. In the midst of all that we suffer in this life God is with us. We have his promise:” I am with you always even to the end of the world.”

Rightly understood, Easter takes away our fears of life. Many of us live in fear of the unknown because we do not know what tomorrow holds for us. Jesus is alive and we can face each day with the calm assurance that all will be well for those who love the risen Lord. There is no need for Christians to live in fear and be consumed by anxiety. God is with us.  The Easter story does not negate pain and suffering; it does not say we will not die; it does not say we will not get sick; it says when all is said and done we will triumph in God’s name. Easter recognises that there is evil in the world, but it says evil does not have the final word. Easter says loudly that evil will be overcome and God will have the last laugh.

Easter teaches that good triumphs over evil. Life is stronger than death. Light outshines darkness. The truth defeats all that is false.

Easter is a story of love. Love conquers all that is evil. Easter overcame the violence and hatred of Good Friday and put them to rest. We live in a world that is marked by a senseless violence that threatens to destroy humanity. People use violence to assert their power. Violence is used to settle disputes and conflicts. Violence gives us a false hope that all will and can be settled if force is used. We all know very well that the opposite is true, violence does not conquer evil. Actually, violence breeds violence and perpetuates the injustices it is meant to solve. Iraq is a classic example that violence does not bring peace. Love is the answer to all our disputes, conflicts and strife. Easter is a story of love conquering evil. This Season calls us to love. We live by love, not by war, oppression, hatred and violence. Evil will be overcome by the power of love. The more we love the more we defeat evil. When we fail to love we genuflect before the god of evil.

Easter takes away the fear of death. Many of us are afraid of death. We do not want to die. The Resurrection defeated death, the empty tomb was a sign of death’s defeat and a promised of eternal life. St. Paul teaches that death is no longer our enemy: “Death, where is your sting? Grave where is your victory?” We need not fear death we can approach it with confidence and courage. Where Christ is present death does not exist. Easter never denies the reality of death, but it gives us the assurance that God has preserved life beyond the grave.

People can be classified into two groups: pessimists or optimists. Pessimists are people who see only the dark side of life. For them nothing is good, all is evil. Many of us who claim to be Easter people are very pessimistic in our outlook on life. We do not give hope to our nation. We fail to display Christian joy and happiness in our relationships with people. Many of us Christians fail to exercise tolerance and patience; we are a complaining people who find fault with everything, many of us are part of that segment of society the glories in pessimism. To me it seems that we are developing a culture of pessimism in our nation, which is giving rise to apathy, indifference and cynical bahaviour. The call in programmes witness to this negativity that pervades our society, they seem to be driven by a spirit of pessimism, which is not in the best interest of our nation and its people; some of our social and political commentators who write in the press seem also to be driven by this spirit of pessimism. Christians cannot be agents of pessimistic beliefs.

Optimists are able to move beyond the dark and see that there is a bright side to life. Easter people are optimists. Easter people live in hope and know that life has a bright side amidst the dark side. Easter people are not prophets of doom and gloom. Easter people do not approach life from a negative point of view; they are positive about life. Easter people, this world’s optimists live with the realisation that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Optimism in the Barbadian context does not deny that we have many social, political and economic problems, it gives us courage and it empowers us to work for a Barbados that will experience peace as is understood by the biblical understanding of shalom.

All that has been said will be lost if the Easter story is not personalised. Easter must be a personal experience; it cannot be experienced for us. The disciples had to see for themselves that Jesus was alive. They did not rely solely on the witness of the women who went to the tomb with the burial spices. Thomas ‘attitude in today’s Gospel must be seen within the context of a need for a personal experience: “Unless I see will not believe.” A personal experience of the risen Christ who is at the centre of the Easter story will have a tremendous impact on our lives and change them; like Thomas we will cry “my Lord and my God.” The Easter story makes us new.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Many of us need to have this personal experience of the risen Christ so that our lives can be changed into something beautiful for God.

Easter is more than a mere religious sentiment; it is an experience to be lived. Easter gives us the hope and promise of a new day. 

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