Thank Christ for a Message of Resurrection

As we pull away from a cold and dark winter, the embrace of spring offers brighter mornings, warmer days and lighter nights. It is the most hopeful season of nature’s calendar at the epicentre of which is April – a month traditionally associated with rebirth, renewal and resurrection. April includes Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, which collectively symbolise the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Upon this story, the whole of history tilts and it has impacted every historically Judeo-Christian society, including our own.

Regardless of your belief or lack thereof, I am sure we can all agree that people globally are groaning for rebirth, renewal and resurrection. Internationally, the inhabitants of Ukraine, with their neck under the boot of a global tyrant who relentlessly wields death and suffering upon them, crave rebirth and renewal. Nationally, our inhabitants, still recovering from our response to a bitter pandemic and the most brutal cost-of-living surge in a generation, crave resurrection. Resurfacing the road to recovery has never been as painful and, as we groan, we do so together.  

Tragically, this traditionally hopeful month has brought some devastating increases in energy, fuel, internet and mobile costs. Locally, council tax has risen by 2.9% for all Dundee residents and those who use public transport have another price increase to look forward to next Monday as bus tickets take another leap. Last Monday’s 3.1% increase in unemployment benefits corresponded with news that consumer price inflation rose to over 7%, completely outstripping any potential increase in value to people on the very lowest incomes.

Tragically, this marks the greatest fall in the value of unemployment benefits since 1972. It is also less than a month on from when the Office for Budget Responsibility said we were facing the biggest decrease in living standards since records began in 1956. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation project this “will pull 600,000 people into poverty, around a quarter of whom are children.” While the resurrection story says the last shall come first, sadly, the inverse is true here. Instead, these blows hit the last among us first and those least among us the most.

I may be old-fashioned but I still think religious leaders have a role to play in times of national crises. However, the presiding Archbishop of Canterbury earns almost three times the annual national average salary, can claim a maximum ‘qualifying day of attendance’ allowance of £300 for presenting at Westminster and has two places of residence, including Lambeth Palace, which has a library it cost £23.5 million to build in 2018. Precisely how much comfort, you may ask, can be drawn from such an individual during a cost-of-living crisis?

My kind of religious leader was a Palestinian refugee, born in a stable to a family fleeing infanticide. He lived an economically austere life, was without even a place to call home yet committed himself to a life of selfless service, showing such bias towards the last, lost and least among us, that it put him at odds with the religious leaders of his day. Such was the extent of their hatred toward him that it was they who plotted to kill him in the most degrading way possible – a form of execution later outlawed by the Romans, whose forefathers created it.

Mahatma Gandhi once described this as the “perfect act”. He said: “A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world.” His name was Jesus but, as the resurrection story reminds us, death could not hold him down.

One thought on “Thank Christ for a Message of Resurrection

  1. Ewan. Whilst not a practising Christian, I welcome any cultural and/or religious period which encourages folks to slow down and reflect, if only for a few minutes. Humanity certainly needs resurrection, to save itself and it’s home, from further damage. In material terms, this could be described as paradigm shifts; new ways of thinking: economics, politics, society, technology etc. We all have a part to play; however those in positions of wealth and power have a specific responsibility to look inwards and outwards. In world history, most land and wealth was appropriated by violent acts by violent men (yes, men). It is ironic that our modern laws seek to perpetuate these historical wrongs by protecting individual rights to hold on to family/institutional land, power and wealth when there are ways of peacefully and gradually restoring some equity and balance via government spending and taxation policies. Modern entrepreneurs such as Bezos Branson, Gates may not have conducted rape + pillage, but their accumulated wealth is protected by our economic systems (as any Microsoft user will testify when forced to “upgrade” systems via M/S!) and their skill at keeping corporate tax bills to a minimum. Most major Church and religious leaders are also beset by the accumulation of corporate wealth and an obsession with celebrating the word of God via large and expensive buildings. Faith is built via individual actions, not grandiose architecture.
    I hope that you, your family, fellow worshippers and all readers have a peaceful Easter Sunday (Old Firm cup-final in Glasgow notwithstanding!). Ian

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