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Our contribution to the Girton Parish News...
We have nearly made it to the Easter break (if you can take one) and at last, there are some improvements in the weather – well, on some days. I look forward to Easter every year, and not just because it is a special time in the Church year, but because there are signs of new life all around us and the nights are getting lighter. I also look forward to a chocolate frenzy, or would do, if the migraines weren’t a problem.
A lot has been happening in the world. The reassuring cycle of the natural world does help to take my mind away from some rather distressing global events. Hearing the birds sing in the morning points to a wider picture, to a natural world that copes as best it can with various human interventions. The determination of nature is incredible and encouraging.
I can barely imagine the pressures that beset politicians and world leaders at this time. I wonder if they even have time to notice the dawn chorus? But if we delve into the annals of former times, we are reminded that the world has never been a problem-free, peaceful place. In a weird way this is comforting because it suggests that human nature itself has a great capacity to overcome, develop and flourish.
In Holy Week the Church considers the Easter Story and retells the events that led up to Jesus’ death. It is an account of intrigue, political manoeuvring and personalities vying for power. In this respect, the Easter story is a very human story, but it does have some unforeseen twists. One of the characters in the story is Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine. When Jesus is brought before him, Pilate obviously sees Jesus’ trial as one among many. Pilate’s duty was to keep the peace so he is prepared to hear the charges against Jesus. We get the impression that Pilate was extremely efficient and professional, a top-class civil servant. He listens to the charges against Jesus and dismisses them as trumped-up rubbish. Jesus did not tell people to withhold their taxes and he did not publically claim to be the Messiah.
Pilate wants to remove Jesus from his books. He tries to pass the buck onto King Herod and make the matter into a domestic Jewish dispute. The buck comes back to Pilate and he tries a second time to pass the buck – this time asking the people to choose between Barabbas and Jesus. The people choose Barabbas and Pilate has no other alternative but to convict Jesus. Pilate, feeling forced into a corner, symbolically ‘washes his hands’ of the affair. In effect, Pilate judges peace to be more important than justice. This has happened a few times since then in different places with different characters. It is still happening today.
The twist is that the execution is not the end of the story. Jesus breaks through the bonds of death and is bigger than any human power struggle. Pilate saw only the liberation of a hardened criminal, but through the death of Jesus, all are set free. Barabbas means ‘son of the Father’ – a total irony – as the true Son of the Father faced death so that we may all become children of God.
The Easter Story reveals the darker side of human nature but also God-given chance for renewal and rebirth.
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