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There are two major public holiday periods in our country: those spanning Christmas, and the other, of course, is Easter. And although they are inextricably linked in Christian terms, they are, of course, vastly different in reality.
For me, the meaning of Christmas is easy to explain. It was and still remains, a simple story. On the other hand, Easter is more profound and full of complexities. To draw something from the Easter story demands from me an effort of deep imagination, thought, and prayer.
It seems to me that the association of a sacred meal on Maundy Thursday with a sacred death a day later is extraordinary. Even more so, because 2,000 years have passed and we still seem to be immensely preoccupied with the ghastly, humiliating death of our founder. Why should this be so?
I believe that many Christians, and indeed non-believers who flock to cathedrals and churches in their tens of thousands at Easter, link moments of great stress and suffering in their lives with the images of Good Friday. Some even think inwardly of their own cross to bear and even their own crucifixion.
But Christianity does more than offer metaphor for comparison and adoption in a few extreme moments of human experience, however dramatic. It calls us to participate in the constant re-enactment of the holy supper and for us to be 'in that upper room' not only when the going is good for us, but also when the chips are down and the red lights are flashing.
The culmination of this and every Holy Week completes an historical journey for us all. It is a journey which Jesus himself had not planned, but which somehow He knew would happen and end in tragedy. Each and every one of us is destined to make a similar journey and as true followers of Him, we ourselves can follow Him in that same journey.
Although our death will certainly not be on a cross, like His, there is a real message here, and it is this: if we can learn to travel with Him through His experiences, then surely He will travel with us through our own, for the simple reason that He has been there before us, all those years ago.
Jesus was gloriously ascended, as surely we must be. For me, that is the universal message of Christianity. And that is why, at this, the greatest of our festivals, we can look for hope and new life, in whatever the future has in store for us.