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Easter message by Bishop of Lynn, Rt Rev Dr Jane Steen

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Early one morning, before it was light, a woman got up, dressed and went out.

She walked to a garden where there was a tomb cut out of the rock. The man inside the tomb she was visiting had been dead quite a while. When the woman arrived in the garden, the heavy rock that covered the entrance to the tomb had gone. That frightened her. She ran to tell some friends.

They went to the garden too. They saw that the rock had gone and they saw the shroud (in which the dead man had been wrapped). They went home.

The Bishop of Lynn, The Venerable Dr Jane Steen.
The Bishop of Lynn, The Venerable Dr Jane Steen.

But the woman stayed. She’d known the man who’d been buried and she was crying. Then she saw someone she thought must be the gardener and asked him what had happened. The gardener looked at her. “Mary,” he said – and in the instant that he said her name, she recognised him as the beloved whom she had seen buried in the tomb and who now stood before her.

That story is from the Gospel of John and it describes the first Easter morning. Easter is a spring festival, a time of new life which is why we have Easter eggs and bunnies this Sunday. But the new life of Easter is about much more than chocolate. I remember when we only had black-and-white television screens and the difference it made when we had colour!

Now imagine that we could only see the whole world in black-and-white. When Jesus rose from the dead, he offered life in colour, ‘eternal life’, life beyond death, in heaven. Eternal life that has quality, as well as quantity and that quality is eternal and unconditional love. Jesus called Mary by name in the garden, that first Easter morning, because he loved her. He calls each of us by name, because he loves us. Mostly, we’re too busy to hear. We’re not like Mary, alone in a garden at dawn. If we’re lucky, we’ll be celebrating this Easter with family and friends. We won’t have time this Sunday to hear Jesus say our name. So, let’s make time.

On Saturday evening, I’ll be in St Margaret’s (Kings Lynn Minster), to celebrate the coming of Easter, to baptise people and to confirm them. I’ll say to each one of them, “God has called you by name and made you his own”.

I hope you’ll be there too. And I pray that you will know that God calls you by name too, because he loves you. Happy Easter!

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