EASTER is one of the two great Christian festivals, along with Christmas. But, unlike Christmas, its message is not surrounded by spending and commercialism. The Easter message is a clear one of hope and promise.
Easter comes at springtime, and we like spring. There is blossom on the trees, and the daffodils, primroses and tulips brighten our parks and gardens. The sun begins to gain warmth, particularly welcome after the cold months, and the birds are nesting.
These changes in the natural world promise gentler and better days ahead. We can start to think of summer – and perhaps of holidays!
Jesus Christ lived 2,000 years ago in the land we know today as Israel and Palestine. For three years he was a teacher who moved from village to village, ministering to the people.
He taught about the things of God, and how we can be forgiven and live together in peace, teaching that for its moral and spiritual power and insight has never been bettered.
He established a reputation as a healer as, through a series of remarkable miracles, he restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and health to the sick, signs of that deeper new life that he offers to all who receive him.
But Jesus claimed to be more than a teacher and healer. He claimed to be the Son of God and his followers saw his extraordinary authority and powers as proof of this.
The Jewish religious leaders were greatly disturbed. They felt threatened, and to them Jesus' claim to be God's Son was blasphemous. They persuaded the Romans to have him crucified.
That seemed to be the sad end to a great story. But, Christians believe, Jesus was raised to life, and appeared to his astonished and frightened followers. His resurrection that first Easter morning was a transforming moment. There was new life in him for all who could accept it.
That is the promise of Easter, for Christians a real source of joy and celebration.
Andrew Anderson is the minister at Greenside Parish Church