So it's Easter and one's mind naturally turns to bunnies and eggs ... oh no, wait, that's all those heathens out there. As a good Christian girl my mind should be focused solely on the death and resurrection of our Lord. (And the odd egg or two.)
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian year; it's the reason for our faith and no amount of chocolate can diminish that truth. On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the hope that gives us who follow him of life after death, going to heaven - whatever that may mean to you (my idea is pretty vague as you might expect) - and salvation. And therein lies my sermon for today.
Some very lovely and sincere Christians are wont to ask, 'Is your husband saved? Are your children saved?' I know what they mean and I appreciate their interest but the way it comes across it seems to me that salvation is the be all and end all of our faith. (Yes, I know, strictly speaking, it probably is and I'm struggling to find the right way of saying this. I bet the Pope doesn't have these problems.)
I think my thoughts have been going around this subject since last Tuesday's bible study into Jesus as Lord. Someone - I can't remember who - said, 'If I confess that Jesus is Lord then I am saved.' And, yes, that's true. The last thing we want to do for people - people who are in desperate need or difficult circumstances, with erratic lifestyles and problems - is to make turning to God seem hard: it's not. Like the father in the prodigal son story God is running out to meet us, arms open wide, and he throws a party for us. He wants us to turn to him. God doesn't want anyone to be lost. (But I don't think that means that we all will be saved; we still have free will and have to make a choice.)
But if salvation, life after death, is all that we get out of this then we're missing out. I haven't said eternal life when referring to after death because I believe that my eternal life has already begun and the phrase that I love, that keeps coming back to me, is that Jesus came to bring us life and life to the full. That means right now not at some later unspecified date when we die. (Hopefully much later in my case.)
So yes, if we're to have life to the full it means taking some responsibility too. It means trying to make the right choices - not always easy and I certainly make far too many wrong ones - and giving God a say in our lives. From the ten commandments onwards through the words of Christ, the 'rules' are there for our benefit. If we break them, if we sin, then someone, either us or someone else, usually gets hurt. I suppose one of my particular sins, or at least one I'm willing to tell you about, is gossiping or bad-mouthing others. It does me no good, although I might enjoy it at the time, and if my words were to get back to the persons concerned then it would certainly do them no good.
So I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Jesus' life, the example he gave us, the lessons he taught, the love and compassion he showed the outcasts and most vulnerable in society, is of huge value. As we remember his death and resurrection let's not forget the bit before.
Now, where did I put that egg?