It is very difficult, or perhaps impossible, to find a picture which adequately describes the joy and hope of Easter.
Hot Cross Buns are consumed by millions without a thought that they were once a kitchen illustration of the death and burial of Jesus Christ.
And even the lamb roast of Easter Day is disconnected from the bouncy lambs which are born to die, and from the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.
Fluffy chicks, baby bunnies and daffodils are sentimental reminders of new life in Spring, and a surfeit of hollow chocolate eggs which once spoke of the empty tomb are overpriced indulgences - enjoyed, regretted and forgotten.
That is the problem with pictures. Powerful as some are to induce emotion, like old holiday snaps they take us to the brink of nostalgia - perhaps like William Cowper's 18thC hymn containing these lines:
Where is the blessedness I knew
when first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul-refreshing view
of Jesus and His Word?
For most people, this Easter is another cultural muddle, where families gather to parrot 'Happy Easter' in the same vein as they also say 'Happy Halloween' without understanding the significance of either, or what their words mean.
But for the Christian it should be different. Where would we be without the living and abiding Word of God to explain the realities we have experienced, and are yet to fully know? However, God has clearly told us what He has done in Christ to achieve our salvation: His Word alone, confirmed by the Holy Spirit's inner assurance, brings fulness of peace, joy and hope.
Only in Christ and His shed blood: all our sins are forgiven ... divine anger is replaced by blessing ... Satan's stranglehold over us is broken ... we are reconciled to Father God ... we have access into His presence ... we have the right to be called children of God ... we have eternal life and a home in heaven ... one day Jesus will come again for us and we will be with Him forever. No wonder the Christian can sing of God's faithfulness:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Proclaiming Jesus - crucified, buried, raised and ascended - is BeaconLight's mission. We do not do it alone. For every book published, Word@Work broadcast, course presented, web page created, prisoners pastored and ministers mentored, there are hours of work in writing, proofing, designing, printing and distributing - all done by a very small group of committed people. The Biblical truth we transmit in print and pixels goes to many missional people who pass it on.
And behind all of this are the people like you who pray specifically for BeaconLight's people, projects and prison ministry. We do not know how God uses our prayer but He does - some amazing answers are in this month's newsletter.
May the Lord Jesus, whose obedient sacrifice brings peace to all who believe in Him ... give you satisfying peace, deep joy and bright hope for each tomorrow.
Perhaps you could also share the evidence for that joyful hope with those around you. Paul has written a web page on "Examine the evidence - did Jesus really rise from the dead?".
Please include a link to it in your Easter emails to friends and colleagues, and Church e-news mailing, and use it to prepare Easter sermons and follow-up Bible studies in beaconlight.co.uk/articles/examine-the-evidence-did-jesus-really-rise-from-the-dead
Happy Easter ... in every Christ-filled sense of both words!