Today religious leaders from across the Midlands are delivering their Easter messages and sharing their thoughts on Good Friday.
Bishop of Lichfield, Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, talks of the importance of Easter as a festival for Christians around the world.
He discuss how Christians do not celebrate death but rather the resurrection and the wonder of life.
He says: “While we all love a carol service, for Christians, actually, the most important week of the year is Easter.
“In fact, we believe it’s the most important week in the whole of history.
“It is the event which makes sense of everything. In the ancient world, it fulfilled all the prophesies. Today, it tells us who we truly are – people who are loved and called by God to let his love and wonder into our lives.
“Historical accounts give compelling evidence that a man called Jesus was executed, rose from the dead, was seen by his disciples and finally spoke with hundreds of people. He said it would happen and it did. And you can read about it in the books of the Bible called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
“This was a man who taught that human beings were created by God and matter to him; that if we follow Christ, death isn’t the end of the story.
“On the cross, Jesus paid the price for all the things we human beings have done wrong.
“So the cross is the heart of Christianity: it’s where historical truth and spiritual truth combine and explode into the world.
“People become Christians for lots of reasons, of course. For many, the penny drops when we realise that the resurrection really happened. It is not a fable but a moment of historical truth, pored over by scholars for hundreds of years and found to be robust and secure.
“Because Jesus did what he said he would do, we know we can trust him when he says who he is. At Easter, we don’t celebrate a death. We celebrate what happened next; we celebrate a life.
“Jesus came back to life, and showed himself to so many people, and acted with such power in them, that within a few generations, an obscure rabbi from Nazareth had become the focus of faith for most of the known world.
“If you, like most people, tick the box marked ‘Christian’ when the census comes around, why not come into church this week and give thanks. Jesus died so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. And he calls us to turn away from death and towards love. Come, let’s all of us be counted in his number. A very happy Easter.”
In his address, the Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd Dr John Inge, looks at Easter as the thoughts of the world have been with the families of people aboard the lost Malaysian Airlines plane MH370.
Pictures of the grief-stricken families awaiting news on their loved ones have touched people around the world. “In today’s world we rather assume that no movement can be secret, which is why it seems extraordinary that it has taken so long to find out what has happened to Malaysian Airlines MH370,” he says.
“The world is curious to know what happened to the plane and the hearts of all of us have gone out to the relatives of those on that ill-fated flight who are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones.
“However, before the black box has been found, one thing is pretty certain. The cruel truth is that all those on board have almost certainly died. Understandably, their relatives want to know exactly how and when – and why. And perhaps they are also asking what happened to them after they died?
“The short answer to that is that nobody knows. However, Christians believe that, because of the resurrection of Jesus, death is not the end. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we too can be raised from the dead if we wish to accept God’s invitation to eternal life through Jesus.
“The resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate at Easter, can seem unbelievable. It always has. In fact, it doesn’t make any sense from the point of view of any worldview except the one of which it is the basis. For two thousand years, though, it has given millions of people all over the world a kind of hope which nothing else can offer.
“There are those who dismiss this hope as ‘pie in the sky when you die’ but that is to miss the point. The resurrection does hold out a promise for the future but that promise can give hope and therefore change lives in the here and now.
“If you are confident that everything you do has a consequence way beyond the present, if you believe that you have an eternal future, it can enable you to rejoice in and enjoy life in all its fullness, in all its abundance – which is what Jesus said he wanted for everyone.
“If you are able to do that you will have a really happy Easter. And a joyful life.