In CS Lewis’ ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ the magical land of Narnia is in the grip of an eternal winter. As Lucy informs her brother Edmund, the White Witch ‘has made a magic so that it is always winter in Narnia— but never Christmas.’ Considering the weather we are having, you may be forgiven in thinking a similar fate has befallen us, always winter but never spring!
But with the return of Aslan, the true King of Narnia, the witches spell over the land is broken. The first sign of change is that signs of spring start to appear. ‘Soon Edmund noticed that the snow which splashed against them as they rushed through it was much wetter than it had been last night.... All around them, though out of sight, there were streams chattering, bubbling, splashing and even (in the distance) roaring. And his heart gave a great leap (though he hardly knew why) when he realised that the frost was over.’
Tonight we are marking a similar change, as we move from the winter of Good Friday, to the spring of Easter Sunday.
For the disciples the day Jesus died on the cross was a day of utter desolation and despair. All their hopes and dreams died with Jesus that day on the cross. They were a broken and crushed group of people. With the exception of a few faithful women, and the apostle John, Jesus had been abandoned, to die a dreadful, lonely death on the cross.
To everyone who had witnessed what had happened that day, it must have seemed as though God had totally abandoned Jesus, and that they had been plunged into a dark and long winter of grief.
There is a well known saying that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. As several of Jesus’ followers approached his tomb on the Easter Sunday, they were expecting to find a sealed tomb, containing the broken body of Jesus. Darkness and despair must still have clinged to their hearts, as they went to perform the last loving act for Jesus, to anoint his body with spices.
But when they got to the tomb, just as dawn was breaking, the light of a new day, revealed a very different scene. The stone that had sealed the tomb had been moved, and where the body of Jesus had lain were two angels, who said to the women ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.’ In that moment the winter of darkness and despair that they had been plunged into on Good Friday suddenly gave way to the spring and light of Easter.
Where there had been only despair and grief, now there was hope and joy. Where there had been confusion and fear, now there was understanding and assurance. Where there had been death and defeat, now there was life and victory.
To this day, this same transformation takes place in the lives of the men, women and children who encounter the risen Jesus.
Just as we lit candles to dispel the darkness of this night, so we need to let the light of the risen Christ, illuminate our lives and shine through us for all to see. Because there are many who are live as though the world is still in grip of winter, the grip of death, the grip of despair, the grip of sin, and they see no hope. Whereas we know that because of Christ’s victory on the cross spring is here, and the signs of that are all around for us to see.
Because Jesus lives, we can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone. Because he lives, life is worth living, because we know that whatever we may have to face in life, he holds the future. Because he lives, the winter of sin and death is over, the spring of new life, new hope, new purpose and new joy is here for all to experience.