Easter: hope in a broken world

Today’s blog is from Paul Langham,
Vicar of Christ Church Clifton,
and South West Regional Director for New Wine

In 1989, Bob Dylan wrote a song called Everything is broken.

33 years on, those words still resonate. From Afghanistan to Ukraine, Syria to Yemen, cities and people lie broken. In the West, the contract of trust between people and leaders is at breaking point. Fake news threatens the power of truth. The gap between rich and poor is growing, not shrinking. Women continue to live in fear of violence. Black & Minority Ethnic people still face discrimination. Too many children’s mental resilience is buckling. While these realities prevail, can we deny that our society is broken? And if we fail to avert climate catastrophe, we will leave future generations a broken planet…

Of course, Dylan was exaggerating for effect. Not everything is broken. Across the world, individuals and communities (of faith and none) are doing what they can to mend what is broken. You can read – and contribute – local inspirational stories at https://bristolthreads.co.uk/

Churches too are playing their part: running foodbanks; supporting children struggling for wellbeing and resilience; seeking creative solutions to our housing crisis; encouraging fostering… to name just a few among hundreds of initiatives.

Christ Church has recently brought the SPEAR Programme to Bristol – mentoring disadvantaged 16-24 year-olds into work or further education. We’re also preparing to become one of ten Welcome Hubs across Bristol to support Ukrainian refugees and the families who will be hosting them.

Christians find our inspiration for all we do in Easter. God’s extraordinary answer to a broken world was to enter it, and allow himself to be broken. Easter keeps me going through my struggles and my doubts. I see my God, hanging nailed and broken on the Cross, his death paying the price of my – our – brokenness.

And there’s the rub – are we willing to accept the reality of our own brokenness? To acknowledge that it’s not only tyrants and tanks that cause destruction? That our thoughtless words, our selfish actions, our hateful thoughts, all contribute to this world’s brokenness?

Many people know that Christians believe that Jesus breaks the power of sin. But few know that the word most commonly translated ‘sin’ in the bible is taken from archery. It means to ‘miss the mark,’ and I find that helpful. I can acknowledge that I miss the mark, even the mark I set myself. And being willing to acknowledge that is the first step in a journey of faith.

Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the first Easter Day. His resurrection is our proof that he has the power to lead us safely through death into new life. As Jesus hung on the cross, one of those crucified alongside him said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43). Putting faith in Jesus can be that simple.

But finding faith is only the start of the Christian journey – Jesus calls us to work with him to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, set captives free, and to comfort those who mourn. All this points to the day when Jesus will return and restore the whole of creation, mending what is broken, and wiping the tears from every eye.

Everything may seem broken now. But Easter speaks a message of hope – not just for this world, but for a new world to come. In that new world, the only thing broken will be the power of sin and death.