CHOCOLATE, EGGS AND SO MUCH MORE
After leaving school and doing some tertiary study I ended up landing a job in a chocolate factory. Some would say the ideal job for a young man who has always loved chocolate. After a few months focusing on the production of chocolate biscuits and other chocolate delicacies the main production shifted to the manufacture of chocolate Easter eggs. We made tens of thousands of them. For several months my work life was dominated by Easter eggs of all shapes and sizes. My guess it that as Easter draws near the sales of chocolate eggs will rapidly grow and by the end of Easter Sunday most of us will have eaten at least one chocolate egg. Sometimes I worry that while we consume Easter eggs, we may have overlooked the reason behind the Easter festival. For me, as a person of faith, I associate the meaning of Easter with two words “Sacrifice” and “Surprise”.
A CHALLENGE TO LOVE
The first Easter story of course has no mention of bunny rabbits or chocolate. The story focuses on a first century carpenter / preacher / healer from Nazareth, named Jesus. The records tell us he was immensely popular as a teacher and miracle worker, thousands hung on his every word. Yet for all his passion and divine power, a rather sad group of religious leaders, jealous of his popularity and his radical claims were plotting to kill him. In learning of their deadly schemes Jesus was faced with a decision. Quietly slip back to Nazareth and his carpenter’s workshop or face a cruel execution on a cross. Courageously Jesus chose the way of the cross. His life was a sacrifice of love. He gave up his life out of sacrificial love for humankind. So, when I spend a moment looking at a cross, I think of the costly, sacrificial love of Jesus and I am stirred and challenged to love people with a costly, extravagant love. For me Easter equals sacrificial love.
A REASON TO LIVE
The death of Jesus was not however the end of the story, sacrifice was followed by surprise. Jesus’ death on the first Good Friday was followed by his resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. And boy what a surprise that was. The gigantic claim of the New Testament writers is that just when everyone was beginning to mourn his death, Jesus appeared alive. The disciples and others saw him, listened to him speak, even enjoyed breakfast on the beach with him. In some ways this was the surprise of history – a crucified carpenter dies in agony, only to return alive and well two days later. Those who saw him were not hallucinating or inventing a comforting story or myth. They claimed to be eyewitnesses to his risen presence. While I always look forward to tucking into an Easter egg, I can’t help but think of the suffering of Jesus and the stunning empty tomb. At the heart of the Christian faith is a cross that points us to the sacrificial love of Christ and his surprising victory over death.
I hope your Easter goes well, enjoy your eggs and spare a thought for the man who died and lives again, Jesus, the reason for Easter.
Chaplain Steve Francis – Easter 2022