Easter is still marked by bank holidays, but people have largely lost track of what it is supposed to be about. It is partly about what happened to a particular man, Yeshua (or Jesus), from Nazareth about 2000 years ago, after he had been crucified. However, Christians are convinced it had enduring consequences, which is why they see it as something to be celebrated now.
It is often helpful to find analogies from scientific research. I suggest that the resurrection established in the moral and spiritual world something akin to a nuclear resonance. One of the most significant resonances is the “triple alpha” effect, which facilitates the fusion of three helium to form carbon. Without a resonance to facilitate it, it would be very unlikely. But there is a resonance that is exactly what is needed to facilitate the formation of carbon from helium, and carbon is the basis of all life.
The spiritual “resonance” that facilitates recovery after setbacks seems to work particularly powerfully in those who are conscious of the connection with what happened with Jesus. A moving example of this is the recovery that occurred after the bombing of the Cathedral in my hometown of Coventry in November 1940. Efforts were made to put out the fires created by bombs but, when it was clear that those efforts had failed, there was nothing left but to watch the 15th century Cathedral burn down.
Among those who watched this was the Provost, Richard Howard, who wrote afterwards about the experience. He had a powerful experience that he was not just watching a Cathedral burn. He felt that the Cathedral belonged to God, and he was watching the body of Jesus being destroyed yet again, as it had been at his crucifixion. For him, as he watched the fire, there was a kind of resonance that linked the two across time and space, linked the destruction of the physical body of Jesus by crucifixion, and the destruction of the Cathedral in Coventry through enemy action. The two things fused in his mind, as helium fuses to form carbon.
He believed that that the consequences would be essentially the same in the two cases, that there would be resurrection after destruction. He saw the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion as establishing a template that the bombed Cathedral could and would follow. Even while the 15th century Cathedral burned, he foresaw that a new Cathedral would rise from the ashes.
More than that, he saw that the message would be essentially the same. According to Luke’s Gospel Jesus on the cross said “Father Forgive”. Howard became convinced that must be the key message from the bombed Cathedral in Coventry, and he had those words, “Father Forgive” carved on the wall behind the altar in the bombed Cathedral.
Coventry has emerged as a powerful international centre of forgiveness and reconciliation. In some ways that is an improbable outcome of the bombing in 1940, but it can be seen as having been facilitated by the moral and spiritual resonance created by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.