When asked what he regretted most in life, the comedian Woody Allen is said to have replied that he most regretted that he wasn’t someone else. As I write this Easter is just a fortnight away. Soon we will have kept Holy Week, recalling Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with a Palm Sunday service at Hougham, the Last Supper with a service at Alkham on Maundy Thursday, his death on the cross on Good Friday, and celebrating the Resurrection at the beautiful old church of St Mary’s on Easter Day.
It may be tempting to regard all this as irrelevant, belonging to a time long ago and far away. But often reading the Bible is like looking in a mirror – if we look long enough we may just begin to see ourselves in the characters we meet in its pages. As the story of Jesus reaches its climax, his followers emerge as people who, having promised never to desert or deny him, did just that. At that point, they may well have wished that they were someone else – or at least that they could be themselves, only without their failings. I suspect that many of us feel that way – if only we could be ourselves, minus our failings! What a difference it would make! That point was driven home by someone telling me recently that he believes, and might have more time for the Church if it weren’t for its failings.
The Easter story tells of how, despite their failings, the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples and gave them the job of continuing what he started – possible because, as I Corinthians 13 famously says, love keeps no score of wrongs. Easter reminds us that there is always the chance of a fresh start. Happy Easter!