In case you hadn’t noticed, we are in the midst of Holy Week. It’s a time when Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, TV channels search their back catalogues for things vaguely religious and a time when politicians try not to offend potential voters.
I was surprised to read that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, had published an Easter Message. The text can be read on the Number 10 website. Mr Cameron said;
“Easter week is a very important moment in the Christian calendar, so I would like to extend my best wishes to everyone here in the United Kingdom, and across the world, at this special time of year.
“This is the time when, as Christians, we remember the life, sacrifice and living legacy of Christ. The New Testament tells us so much about the character of Jesus; a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love. These are the values that Jesus embraced, and I believe these are values people of any faith, or no faith, can also share in, and admire.
“It is values like these that make our country what it is – a place which is tolerant, generous and caring. A nation which has an established faith, that together is most content when we are defined by what we are for, rather than defined by what we are against. In the book of Luke, we are told that Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” – advice that when followed makes for a happier, and better society for everyone.
“So as families and friends get together this week, I would like to send my best wishes to you all, and I hope and pray you have a very happy and peaceful Easter.”
The Prime Minister also made a statement to Christian leaders at a reception held in Downing Street. The text of this statement can be read on the God and Politics website. Mr Cameron had three points, a plea and two challenges which sounds a bit like a sermon.
On the plus side;
- At least he ‘does God’
- He speaks of ‘we Christians’
- He even managed to quote the Bible
Sadly, it isn’t all good news;
- This is a pretty watery form of Christianity.
- Jesus is of course the ultimate example but his greatest purpose was to redeem sinners through his death.
- To emphasise the love and compassion of the Lord Jesus without also emphasising the fact that he was also provocative, sometimes abrasive and always devastatingly honest, is to paint a colourless picture of this vibrant personality.
- Jesus didn’t give advice, he is the Son of God, he commands.
I could go on but I’m not sure that it would be profitable.
On the other hand, as many blogs with an eye on Christianity and politics have pointed out, Mr Cameron is not the only politician to make an Easter statement this week. Across the pond (I hope you like that, it makes me sound international) in the US, another leader has had something to say and it seems he is considerably more comfortable with Christian ideas. The President, Barak Obama, gave a short speech to Christian leaders at a Prayer Breakfast in the Whitehouse. Ok, I’m not happy with the notion that Jesus struggled with doubts, nevertheless, it’s a well crafted, overtly Christian message.
I’m not in a position to judge the true motives of Mr Cameron or Mr Obama, those things are better left to one who knows all things and judges with justice. I do know that beyond any question, the events of the first Easter reach out to every heart, they demand a response.
Charles Wesley was a prolific and gifted writer. His 6,000 hymns include some of the greatest expressions of Christian faith but it is said that he would have given them all to have penned ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ by Isaac Watts. The last verse sums up for us the appropriate response as we meditate again on this costly salvation.
“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”