Rev Anthony Buckley – Vicar of St Michael at the North Gate, City Rector and Area Dean of Oxford

WHEN the religious leaders and the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, returned to their homes and went to bed that Friday, many years ago in Jerusalem, they would have thought it was all over.

A slightly messy day, but the irritating preacher from the north of the country was dead and people would soon forget about him.

They would have gone to sleep relatively satisfied.

And then Sunday came, and the world has not been the same since.

That first Easter Sunday was filled with hope.

Whatever we understand of the fascinating life of Jesus – and Oxford is wonderfully diverse in its beliefs and backgrounds – there is something about a message of hope that meets so many of our needs.

Oxford Mail:

Rev Buckley leads the annual beating of the boundary stones ceremony around the centre of Oxford in May 2019. Picture: Oxford Mail

It is much easier to travel through the storm when we sense the clouds are becoming lighter; the heavy suitcase feels much less of a burden when the door is open, the lights are on and we are welcomed home.

During this difficult time for our city, when our thoughts, best wishes and prayers are with so many who are suffering medically, emotionally, mentally and financially, I know that all faith-leaders and indeed everyone, whether of faith or not, would want to join together to offer a message of hope to our community.

Acts of kindness, shopping, phone calls, texts and emails – these are all signs of hope because they are a sign that the person is remembered, a reminder that they are loved.

To know that someone is on our side means a great deal, and hope can flourish.

And our own hope flourishes in turn when we sense that we can make a difference to someone else, acts of kindness begin to form a virtuous circle.

It has become likely this week that the present restrictions will continue a little longer.

Oxford Mail:

The need for courage to keep going on the journey when it is longer, more difficult, more uncertain than expected can feel a real test (it is a theme is so many great stories).

We continue to be deeply grateful for the ongoing commitment of those who work in the NHS and all the caring professions.

Many have turned to keeping contact through technology.

Some churches are streaming services this Easter, and all are welcome, and no doubt other faith communities will be doing the same during their festivals.

All of us are trying to keep regular contact but we know it is two dimensional.

We are longing to see each other face-to face, three-dimensional; we are flesh and blood people, not figures on a screen.

Because of Easter Sunday, people did not forget that preacher from the north, nor his message of love being stronger than hate, hope stronger than despair, forgiveness stronger than guilt, life stronger than death.

Many of us will indeed be celebrating Jesus this weekend, but, for all of us, whatever our background, may our city continue to be a place of kindness, perseverance and hope.

Happy Easter to us all.