Irish Council of Churches. Irish Inter-Church Meeting

Easter Sunday Reflection – Where do you come from?

Rev Ivan Patterson, ICC President





Where do you come from is a question we are often asked. Our answer, I am sure, will often refer to the place where we were born. It was there that many of our ideas and attitudes were formed in the families and communities we grew up in. This for many of us is where we call home.  

Gary Lightbody’s song I think of home comes to mind here as a prompt for memories of happy times together with family and friends. The song also illustrates mistakes of the past and the hope and beauty of the future. 

Our situation today calls us to bring the best of all we have discovered growing up in our place along with all our societal and political hopes to realise that there is a fundamental need for us to find new ways to think about one another and to move forward to build a better, caring community.

While we can be thankful for our home and upbringing is it possible that too strong a sense of home and belonging can blinker us to the needs and aspirations of those around us? We can become so protective of our place that we only think selfishly of our ‘own’ folks. This has left us vulnerable as a people. 

Over recent years the Brexit process and our long political impasse have emphasised the fault lines in society. The issue of climate change has caused further division as it has set our younger people at odds with the older generation. 

We have also witnessed how the selfish behaviour of some has put at risk the lives of vulnerable people in our society due to the Covid19 virus pandemic and have necessitated the introduction of legislation to curb their activity. 

The Apostle Paul was very proud of his upbringing: ‘circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.’

A rich upbringing but he goes on: ‘But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.’ (Philippians 3)

The Christian Way challenged his mindset and opened him to a new way of meeting the world. His heart was moved to embrace a way of being that loved God with his heart, soul, mind and strength and that also included loving his neighbour as himself. We are reminded that the same Christ who illuminated Paul’s heart journeys with us during uncertain times such as these.

The Easter story reminds us of the sacrifice Christ gave of himself so that we might rest in the hope of eternal life. There is no better prompt for how to treat others than through the example of Jesus; an example Paul calls us to follow in 1 Corinthians 11. 

Reflecting on global events today, meeting the world in a new way seems more and more relevant to us. We are called to put others — the vulnerable and the elderly — before ourselves as a necessity. We are thankful that many in society have shown great kindness to their neighbours during this pandemic. 

This Easter Sunday, as we celebrate the risen Christ in a new way — at home — lets remember that faith in Christ always brings us into a new place that ought to raise us above our private thoughts. We embrace the people around us, not forgetting those who may not have a place to call home or those who may be facing the prospect of losing their home.