We are all just about to head into an extended break to celebrate a religious festival I like to call “Easter”.
Now, for your average Kiwi it’s a time to gorge on novelty eggs over an extra long weekend. But for Christians, Easter is the most important religious festival in the annual calendar (It even trumps Christmas!) – and it’s the time when they remember the death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday) of a chap called Jesus Christ. The death bit is pretty much accepted by most historians as a historical fact, while the resurrection bit, understandably, is more hotly contested.
One of my favourite Easter artworks, by Italian painter Caravaggio in 1601 is called “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” aka “Tom the Cynic”. Thomas is the disciple who famously wanted proof that Jesus was actually back from the dead, and demanded to stick his finger into Jesus’ wounds. He was the original “Doubting Thomas”.
I just love how gruesome the painting is. I imagine Thomas squishing his finger in Jesus’ wound – and I wonder if halfway through his finger test he feels that tinge of regret – like when we ask our friends to show us their mountain-bike wounds, and then wish we hadn’t. I also wonder if he washed his hands afterwards before eating dinner that night. And I guess this painting reminds me that when it comes to faith (be it religious, scientific, or economic) – no questions should be off limits, and no beliefs should escape the right to be prodded to see if they hold up to closer scrutiny.
But be you a saint or a cynic when it comes to the Easter story – their may be something new about Easter you’ve missed all this time! Because for thousands of years Easter has also been the season when people have reflected on what character flaws or habits of themselves that they wish could be “put to death” (like, say, the way I become enraged when a car doesn’t indicate before they turn), and what other aspects within themselves they hope might be “brought back to life” (like, say, the joy I used to get as a kid from painting or playing backyard cricket).
So, this Easter, be you a person of some faith or none, take this as my official Chaplain’s invitation to put aside time to consider what negative thing in your own life you’d like to die before you return for term 2, and what life-giving thing you’d like to create space for. UC will be a much better place for it, and so will you!
Rev Spanky Moore