Mr Wrigley was a no-nonsense Lancastrian. He was a sidesman in our church when I was young and gave out the hymn books with a face that rarely smiled. He didn’t say much, and he didn’t stay around for coffee, but once a year he came into his own. On Easter Day he would walk from the back of our large church all the way to the vicar’s vestry, he would stand in the doorway and say to the vicar ‘Christ is risen, vicar’, and the vicar would reply ‘He is risen indeed, Mr Wrigley’. Mr Wrigley would nod, satisfied with the answer, and then walk all the way to the back of the church for the rest of the year.
I used to love that exchange: here was this undemonstrative Christian man bearing witness to the core belief that kept him going in life. He would continue giving out hymn books, and doing his job, and loving his wife, and paying his taxes, because Christ was risen and so everything else would be alright.
However, whilst Christ’s Resurrection is a joy – not only for Mr Wrigley and the whole Church around the world – it is, I believe, also a challenge to us: a challenge to our understanding of the Laws of Nature, the very cycle of life as we live and experience it.
We are born: we live life as best we can: and then we die, and remain so. But Christ’s Resurrection is an event that shatters that understanding of ‘Life’, confronts us, and turns our oh-so-comfortable world upside-down. It can turn us into doubters, where everything concerning The Resurrection is put on the dissecting table to be analysed, scrutinised, and debated in order to arrive at a provable scientific fact.
God, however, isn’t about “provable scientific facts”: rather he is about all the things that make life worth living. When people say to me – as they often do – “How can you prove that Jesus did the things that He did, and said the things that He said?”, my reply is always “How can you prove love, how can you prove forgiveness, or tenderness, or joy?” These are not provable scientific facts: we have to experience them; accept them; and live them in faith every day.
Faith is a real, living, experience and one that surrounds us all the time. We have faith that timetables are correct, and that buses and trains will arrive on time: faith that the shops will open when they say they will: faith that our children will come home at a certain time. I think that a life that is lived only by scientific fact is, indeed, a poor one.
On the other hand, if we are prepared to have faith – even if it is only as small as a seed – we will find that God is a great and wonderful mystery to be entered into, one that we will enter in joy. I recently took a service in a small church that I know quite well on Easter Sunday morning. There was normally a small congregation: some older people, a few Mums, and about five children – I had persuaded one of the Mums beforehand to take the children out of the church to do some activities during the service – but I didn’t know what happened after that.
I arrived from home and found the church filling up: in the end there were about 20 children, with their parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents, and the church was full. One of the Mums organising the Sunday School had become so excited by the project that she had spread the word – end result, we had a wonderful Service. The children (or, at least, the girls) wore their Easter bonnets, and they ate their Easter eggs, and we sang and prayed with everyone, all caught up in the joy of Christ’s Resurrection at Easter. It is one of my most-cherished memories.
We will soon be moving to another season of the Church year, but Easter – with its message of joy and hope – will remain in my heart. It gives us hope that the bad times in life – which will inevitably happen – can be overcome and that our fragile, broken, world will one day be renewed, re-imagined, and resurrected.
(This article was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in June 2018)