What does the Easter weekend mean to you? A chance to get away perhaps? DIY? Chocolate eggs, and maybe a vague cultural awareness they have something to do with spring and new life? Perhaps an even vaguer awareness that it’s a ‘religious’ festival, celebrated harmlessly by the ‘Christian’ community, nice but a bit weird and irrelevant in a modern world where there are plenty of good things to enjoy without any of that strange intangible unprovable stuff.
Oh God… (to express both slight exasperation, and prayer…). If all that my hopes and longings truly amount to is an obscure set of narrow beliefs for a few people who are into that stuff, with no foundation in reality, utterly irrelevant to wider life and the world… well to quote Humphrey Bogart it’s just a ‘hill of beans’ – and I’m outta here.
It’s not that I don’t in some way ‘get’ the prevailing western view – at least in part. Church and Christianity may indeed have been part of my life and upbringing from age dot… but I’m also just a human being like everyone else living in our prosperous society, breathing the same air of widespread spiritual indifference or confusion. I could have jacked it in ages ago. And being ‘a believer’ doesn’t make you immune to the doubts and ‘thought obstacles’ that assail a spiritual apprehension of the world. Yes I’m sometimes bothered by the troubling niggle that my faith seems to be rooted in ancient texts talking of things in the distant past which are seemingly beyond any meaningful contemporary investigation – not least the conviction Jesus rose bodily from the dead.
But I can’t just dismiss these things as mere fantasy. Partly because I know that people with both a burning desire for truth and profound intellect have investigated, pondered, and unearthed weighty insights and discoveries that keep me hooked. Reading a tome like ‘The Resurrection of the Son of God’ by renowned New Testament scholar NT Wright, is for me like engaging in an engrossing piece of detective work – like The Da Vinci Code, but without all the nonsense. So much to discover…
It’s also that I retain a hunger for deep, satisfying ‘resources’ to tackle life’s profound questions that keeps me on the path of faith. And thirst for a deeper, more enduring kind of life than a mere ‘this life is all there is so make the most of it’ viewpoint offers (although I do believe in making the most of it!).
But what truly rescues Christian faith from being a mere fruitless reverie on ancient obscurities, is the possibility that Jesus is indeed risen from the dead, the mysterious presence of the ‘Holy Spirit’ is abroad in the world, and resurrection power is at work. That there’s a vast unseen but real spiritual landscape both ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ that awaits my eager exploration, and that I’m beckoned into… What’s not to like?
There’s no immediately obvious connection, but last night I caught up with tense police drama ‘Line of Duty’ on the BBC. Not hard to spot why it’s so popular: gripping plotlines; characters we care about; and an appeal to our intense human interest in justice – wanting truth to see the light of day, the innocent to be vindicated and the guilty to get their just desserts.
I believe the adventure of faith can be just as gripping. What will happen next? What lies round the corner? What fresh revelation or opportunity will come my way as I seek to dwell within and discover the wild strange mystery that is God? And how can I be involved in His pursuit of justice?
I pray that in this season of recollecting the resurrection, my and others’ hunger for fresh bubbling life from deep wells may be revived.