Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Gospel According to Dave

So the Prime Minister's Easter message is out, and has been criticised and mocked by many. And, in places, fairly. It's a bit confused about the central meaning of Easter.  After all, it's not the Easter message, or the teaching of Jesus, that says we should withdraw benefits from people who won't work - no, that is St Paul in 2 Thessalonians. And David Cameron didn't say that - in his message, at least. For the Easter Message he boiled it down to hard work. Which is not part of the Easter Message. Yes, Jesus was a hard-working Messiah. Constantly touring. But I don't think that's what David Cameron meant.

But then he pulled me up short with what was, I think, his third attempt at defining the heart of the Easter Message.
"I hope everyone can share in the belief of trying to lift people up rather than count people out. Those values and principles are not the exclusive preserve of one faith or religion. They are something I hope everyone in our country believes.
That after all is the heart of the Christian message. It’s the principle around which the Easter celebration is built."
See, to me that is the heart of Easter. Not the multi-faith bit. The bit about lifting people up rather than counting them out. Jesus at the moment of conception - celebrated around Easter time every year - just the tiniest cell with the spark of God the Word, joined to this fallen world. Jesus at Christmas - a working-class baby in the place they keep the animals. A refugee or - if he's as white as he's often pictured - an ex-pat in Egypt. Jesus with a little child, declaring them the most important in the kingdom. Kneeling before his disciples to wash the dust from the feet. In a garden once, the story said, our first ancestors had a choice about a tree and took the wrong decision. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus had a choice about a tree in the garden and made the painful decision - the unwise decision - the humiliating one. The one that lowered him to the status of a condemned slave, a renegade.

And the reason he allowed himself to fall to the bottom, I believe, is that it meant that in the strength of God he could then lift up the whole Creation with him on Easter Sunday. God believes in "trying to lift people up rather than count people out". That's the story of Redemption. 

Of course, if God is in the process of lifting people out, he doesn't get them to do it by their bootlaces. It requires Incarnation. God must become one of us - and the representative of all of us - to get down low enough to lift. He's the lifesaver who has to jump into the water because there's no rubber rings or handy tree branches around. The one who saves potholers by climbing into the depths to find them. The army medic who, to bring wounded soldiers out safe, has to go into No-mans-Land to treat them. 
The story of Easter is that God doesn't count anyone out. He comes down and lifts them out - doesn't just offer encouragement from on high.

So well done, David Cameron. I think that, somewhere in what is frankly politically correct confusion, you put your finger on the truth. I wonder how you'd actually play that out.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for finding that little bit of truth worth celebrating - I don't think I managed to get that far...


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