Many religions have festivals which celebrate light overcoming darkness. Such occasions are often accompanied by the lighting of candles. They seem to speak to every culture, and appeal to people of all faiths, and of none. They are lit on birthday cakes and to mark family anniversaries when we gather happily around a source of light. It unites us.
As darkness falls on the Saturday before Easter day, many Christians would normally light candles together. In church, one light would pass to another, spreading slowly and then more rapidly as more candles are lit. It’s a way of showing how the good news of Christ’s resurrection has been passed on from the first Easter by every generation until now.
This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe. But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed we need Easter as much as ever. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this. We know that coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be— particularly for those suffering with grief—light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future. I wish everyone of all faiths and denominations a blessed Easter.
TheQueen, transcribed from her video below
The Queen speaks of light overcoming darkness, and the hope that Easter symbolises, in a special message recorded to mark the Easter weekend. pic.twitter.com/fTFCOSVBtT
Over the last few months, I’ve been reflecting on what God’s response to hell was, is, and will be, and how that shapes our response to it. My sermon, God went through hell so we can too, engages with this but in this post, I want to respond to the objection that those in hell may not want God to rescue them—that “the doors of hell are locked on the inside.” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 130)
There are times when we do “lock the door”—when we try to shut God out, try to run away from home. Initially, that may even seem desirable and pleasurable. The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) initially was very confident that he didn’t need the father—that he could go it alone (v12-13). At that point, he certainly didn’t imagine he’d ever need forgiving or saving.
However, proud, egotistical hedonism is a path to hell—becoming lost and dead (v14-15).
One of the things I’ve noticed as a clinician and as an observer of people, in general, is that I’ve never ever seen anyone get away with anything and Jacob doesn’t get away with any of this. He is humbled by his eventual experiences and he learns that he did it wrong.
Thankfully, evil doesn’t have God’s sustenance and strength—it is inherently unstable, it collapses, it shatters, it falls apart, revealing that it’s utterly pointless, boring, disappointing, unattractive, undesirable, and repulsive—utterly unchoosable.
The nature of evil is unstable and passes away. It did not come into existence in the beginning with the creation … and it will not continue to exist eternally …. Consequently, in that life which lies before us in hope, there will remain no trace of evil.
Gregory of Nyssa, On the Titles of the Psalms, 155 (translated by Ilaria Ramelli)
A modern example would be Russell Brand—he made a living out of his infamous lifestyle but things slowly fell apart. He got to the point where he woke up.
My route to spirituality comes through addiction, so it comes from desperation and fear and this sort of defeat, destruction, annihilation of self in a very humiliating way, I suppose… So, I had no choice but to embrace spiritual life, but now I am grateful for this. It makes sense of my life.
Hopefully, you won’t need to go to the same extremes but even if you utterly destroyed your life—literally end up dead—the underlying truth is universal. Whether it be in this life or the next, we need to turn back to God—to be found and made alive (v24, 32). This can only occur because the Father forgives (v20), transforms (v24), and restores us (v22). Indeed, the Lost Sheep/Coin parables show that God even goes out and finds us—which is what Jesus did and the Spirit continues to do.
You always have the opportunity to return to the proper path … There’s no easy out … but there is that positive idea—that’s continually represented—that the individual is the source of moral choice. And the individual is prone to genuine error and temptation in a believable and realistic way but that that doesn’t sever the relationship between the individual and the divine, and the possibility of further growth… thank God for that because without that, who would have a chance!
As the Prodigal Son shows, delusions take time to break but break they must as darkness cannot withstand Light, ignorance and lies cannot withstand Truth, hate cannot withstand Love, death cannot withstand Life, and evil cannot withstand Good.
There’s no evil so evil that good cannot triumph over it.
Only the Good brings the real joy, meaning, and life with God we were created for.
Google’s definition of “reform” includes “cause someone to relinquish an immoral, criminal, or self-destructive lifestyle” and “make changes in something [such as the trajectory of your life] in order to improve it”. So it makes sense to describe both the Prodigal and Brand’s experience as reform. However, we all need God to reform us—especially those in hell, who are the most lost, sick, and deluded. This is why Jesus went there after His crucifixion, and this is why the Spirit continues to work wherever there is hell—and invites His Body and Bride to do the same now and in the future.
God's justice reforms all things—even hell—to the way He intended: wholeheartedly delighting in Him together, Shalom!