Emmanuel Church Canterbury

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Easter 2020 - Online

Easter 2020 - Online

Is anyone in control?

At times like these we can wonder whether anyone really is in control. The government makes its decisions on best guesses in the scientific community, and a vaccine seems a long way off. There is a board game called Pandemic with the strap line: Can you save humanity? At the moment we’re really not sure we can. The government makes its decisions on evolving predictions in the scientific community, and a vaccine seems a long way off. Does mere chance plus time control our destiny? Richard Dawkins has said:

‘In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and we won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good; nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.’

The harshness of this view doesn’t satisfy most of us. There are also inconsistencies: why are we putting so much effort into helping the survival of those who aren’t the fittest? Why are extraordinary acts of kindness springing up, such as 405,000 NHS volunteers in 24 hours? It is because we live in a world loved into existence by a Creator who cares about all he has made. And he has made us to care too.

When our Creator took on flesh and walked this planet, he told his disciples to notice his Father’s care:

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life....Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?' (Matthew 6:25-26)

When we feel wobbly, simply watching birds reminds us that our Creator has not given up on us.

If God is in control, why is there coronavirus?

God's original creation was very good: free of disease and death, sin and suffering. But then that first human pair turned against their Creator and the world was never the same again. Narnia author CS Lewis wrote:

‘This condition was transmitted by heredity to all later generations…. It was the emergence of a new kind of man- a new species, never made by God- had sinned itself into being.’

We sin by failing to love others as we should. We sin by failing to love this planet, and most importantly we sin by failing to love our Creator. Sin leaves us cut off from him and deserving his just judgement after we die. Coronavirus is just another symptom that this world is broken and needs more than a vaccine to save it. Again, CS Lewis writes:

‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but he shouts to us in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world’

So, what is God saying to us in all this? With love and passion, he is calling us to turn back to him in repentance and faith.

What has Easter got to do with coronavirus?

The world has never been the same since that first Good Friday and Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, God took decisive action against the deadly virus of sin. And the shock is, he did it through the crucifixion of his own dear Son:

'God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.' (2 Corinthians 5:21)

For all who turn to him in repentance and faith, we benefit from this two-way substitution of infinite love. First, Jesus took our sin as if it was his own and suffered his Father's wrath for it. Secondly, we are clothed with Jesus’ righteousness securing for us eternal acceptance with God.

That first Easter Sunday Jesus' cold, dead body rose to life. This is of deep significance. Jesus’ death really did break the hold of sin and death upon us. His resurrection guarantees that the world we all want is already on its way- a world without coronavirus or climate change, sin or death! This hope is true and certain for any who come to Jesus and it makes us very happy.

We would love you to join us online for church this Easter. Perhaps Coronavirus will lead you to be reconciled to your Creator who loves you more than anyone else in the world.

We are offering an online or telephone version of the 7-session Christianity Explored course which goes through the whole of Mark’s Gospel. Just get in touch if you’d like to do it with us at a time that suits you.

 

With best wishes for an Easter full of meaning and significance,

Rev Richard Hagan

Minister, Emmanuel Church Canterbury

Join us online

Our Easter services will be online at this link: https://zoom.us/j/789145138

Password: Emmanuel

If you can not get online for our services you can also join us over the phone. Dial one of these numbers and when prompted enter the Meeting ID 789 145 138. If you are asked for a Participant ID just press #.

0203 481 5240
0330 088 5830
0208 080 6591
0131 460 1196
0208 080 6592
0203 481 5237