Confident in Christ: Our Easter Hope

26.3.2024 | Moderator, Easter

Like many people, the Presbyterian Moderator, Right Reverend Dr Sam Mawhinney, believes the best dramas are those based on true-life events. In his Easter Message, Dr Mawhinney talks about ITV's New Year’s drama ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’ and how the principal theme of injustice resonated deeply with many who watched it, and reminded him of another true-life drama.

The full text of the Moderator’s 2024 Easter Message

Confident in Christ: Our Easter Hope

The power of drama to awaken the conscience of a nation to injustice and scandal was clearly seen in the TV series, ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’ which was shown on ITV in January. It portrayed the lives of the many postmasters and postmistresses who were wrongly accused of stealing because of a faulty computer system that had been introduced to the Post Offices across the UK. It was a gripping story making the headlines in Ireland as well.

Its themes of injustice and guilt and how lives are destroyed by these realities resonated deeply. The story pictured for many the despair they feel at the difficulties and injustices faced in life, highlighted the disconnect between the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor, as it portrayed the frustration and anger at the lack of accountability and leadership of those tasked to lead.

For my year as Moderator, I chose for my theme ‘Confident in Christ’, because I believe there is despair at the direction our world and society is travelling. A lack of concern for others, the existential threats of war and Climate Change, the growing divide and inequality between rich and poor, relentless change and growing extremism, persecution of people of faith, and a challenge to Christian values at home.

As the world becomes darker, I am increasingly confident of the confidence that we can have in Jesus, and I want to draw you to another story that is incredible, unbelievable even, but is our only hope and confidence. A light in the darkness, forgiveness from guilt, hope in despair and life in death. It is of course the drama of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This story, the injustice of Jesus’ trial, the condemnation by many who did not know the truth, His cruel death on a cross that first Easter, and the amazing story of His being raised to life from death, is not just powerful drama, it is so much more.

For me, the most telling parts of ‘Mr Bates vs the Post Office’, were the moments when those who were deemed guilty were exonerated. The sheer relief, the returning joy, the freedom, the restoration of relationships that had been broken, and the beginning of a process of learning to live life again, were positively affirming and a source of great encouragement.

In our lives, society and the world in general, we see symptoms of the effects of injustice, sin and guilt, and ultimately the source of these symptoms is within the human heart. Yes, we are guilty and suffer, but Jesus suffers because of our guilt, so that we can be declared forgiven and free. It is the most amazing exchange and source of hope for everyone. The Apostle Peter captures this exchange well, when he writes, “For Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteousness for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18.)

I am confident that Jesus offers the hope that we are looking for, He is the leader who cares, whose words are not spin, or untrue, the one who has entered our world and understands every issue, emotion and experience that we face. Jesus calls us to come to Him when we are tired and weary of the mess we make, and the mess that the world is in. He offers us life today and forever - life in all its fullness.

Many of us believe the best dramas are those based on true-life events. The drama of the cross and resurrection are historically accurate and attested to, and the facts and their implications for us today are indeed, a real hope, an Easter hope, that we can have complete and total confidence in.

          Right Reverend Dr Sam Mawhinney
          Presbyterian Church in Ireland

26 March 2024

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