From David our moderator

 

Browsing the bookshelves in a charity shop recently, I spotted a book now long forgotten that predicted that the end of the church would occur most likely within the writer’s generation, a view held by many writers in history, right back to the Greek philosopher Celsus in the 2nd Century AD.

As we approach the central celebration of the Christian church, it sometimes seems to many as if the church like so many species on our planet is on the verge of extinction. That in a few more years, and like the dodo, the church will be simply a museum exhibit, a curiosity from a bygone era.

Thinking of that, I am reminded that there is a famous stele or commemorative slab from ancient Egypt discovered in 1896, in which the Pharaoh who lived around 1200BC boasts that he has utterly eradicated Israel. The people of God like the famous Monty Python Norwegian blue parrot sketch, are demised, no more, totally gone.

The truth is that whilst the Pharaoh and all he stood for is long gone, the people of Israel are not only still here, but through them the God of Israel continues to give life to the world.

That illustrates one of the astonishing facts of history, which is the power of resurrection.

I do not just mean the great and wonderful resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but the millions of smaller resurrections that have come from it.

Many times the people of God have been brought to an end. Even in the Old Testament, there was the slavery in Egypt, the exile in Babylon, and the many other times, that some tyrant or ruler tried to destroy this small weak nation.

The same is true of the church. We find over the two thousand years of its history, that it is dead and buried, lost all its glory and colour, disregarded, discredited, dead in trespass and sins. Until suddenly it bursts out of its grave like a butterfly from a Chrysalis.

In our generation, the church was systematically persecuted by communist regimes and yet communism has died and the church has emerged stronger than ever in the places it was persecuted.

Where does its power come from?

It comes from Jesus who says to us.

 “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”

The apostle Paul who like the Pharaoh had tried his very best to destroy the church, realised that all too well, when Jesus met him on the Damascus road, and his words echo down the ages to us.

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The church despite its weakness has outlived every empire in history, and I suspect that in the power of the resurrection revealed in the Easter story, it will continue to do so, even if the movers and shakers of this world tell us otherwise. So Easter is a time to rejoice in the fact that we belong to the only truly lasting kingdom.

Yours in Christ

David