Easter is a time for us to reflect upon the grace of God.

Simple. The incredible, extravagant and measureless grace of God. But I wonder – what does Easter mean to most people today?

What does it mean to you?

Is your focus on the death and resurrection of Christ? Or are you more concerned with  egg hunts, Easter bunnies and – for those of us in many Western countries – a day or two extra off work?

We live in a materialistic world. Modern society offers us many of the things we need from a material perspective, but we know that these are not enough to ensure happiness and freedom. If you think material possessions bring happiness, then think again! We only have to look around to see  the negative effects of consumerism. Despite all our possessions and privileges, we people, on the whole, remain unsatisfied.

There is a spiritual hole that cannot be filled with things we can buy.

The truth is that, even in this world that appears to be resolutely materialistic, we see evidence that people are searching for meaning.

The Christian Church, of which The Salvation Army is part, has the answers to people’s deepest questions. Yet, sadly, so many people have turned their backs on it because they feel Christians lack credibility.

We preach love, yet the Church can be the most unforgiving place.

We preach spiritual values yet Christians often chase after material wealth, power and influence.

We preach justice for the oppressed, but how many of us actually do anything to make a difference?

As we prepare to celebrate this Easter, we should be mindful of the fact that a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions is in the making. Rather than being preoccupied by our material concerns, we should spare more than a thought for the 16 million people who are facing famine and starvation in East Africa. We might feel a sense of powerlessnesss by a pending disaster of this magnitude and yet our faith in God should drive us to more than thoughts of compassion, and perhaps we should in this time of Lent consider what things we can do without so that others may have something.

When people come to us seeking meaning in their lives, we have to be ready to show though our actions, not just our words, that the answers to all the questions and problems in our world are found in the life, teaching, death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus.

As the writer of the Acts of the Apostles reminds us:

‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’

This, then, is the glorious truth that we are reminded about every Easter. God loves us so much that he gave his son, so that everyone who believes in him can be saved.

Notice that the Bible says God ‘gave’ his son. Not sold, not lent, but gave.

The answer we can share with a seeking world is not to ‘buy this’, ‘spend that’, ‘accumulate more’. The peace made available through Jesus is free, if only we will accept it. He is all we need.

Commissioner Silvia joins me in praying that that will be your reality this Easter time.

God bless you.