One of my regular jobs is to write a column for the community magazine for the area of Cadnam and Copythorne in the New Forest. Here is the latest one:
The rock and pop world seems to have lost more than its fair share of stars in the opening weeks of 2016.
Glen Frey (The Eagles), Lemmy (Motorhead), Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire) and David Bowie all gone before the middle of February and, for those who liked their music served up with a dose of Irish charm, Terry Wogan too.
For their fans, each of them had the ability to make life feel like Another Perfect Day, even Hunky Dory. They could encourage you to Take it Easy or lift you up After The Love Has Gone … unless it was the Floral Dance perhaps!
If you ever saw one of the bands in concert, you could testify to the power of their music to get you on your feet and to being part of a greater whole: united in singing out the lyrics and moving to the rhythm.
On the day each of these died the tributes flowed generously. Artists who had been influenced by them told how they had been inspired after a word of encouragement. Some played versions of their heroes’ songs in homage.
On the radio, presenters described Wogan as the king of DJs. He was not just a brilliant radio voice but had started artists’ careers through his influence.
In all cases they mourned the fact that the person had gone and would never be seen again. In one sense of course every great artist lives on in their music and the archive footage we have. That’s a great joy.
The covers band I played in used to do Eagles tunes and I can open up iTunes and Spotify and hear Glenn Frey and the rest of the band in fine voice whenever I want, but there will never be new music from him. That’s a great sadness.
At the very end of March we mark Easter – the moment when a young carpenter from Nazareth died. He never had a hit record, never filled a football stadium, never appeared on TV, wasn’t mourned by thousands when he died – yet a third of the population of the planet now follow Jesus as Christians.
What is the difference? Before Jesus died he told his closest friends: “Listen to me carefully. We are on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. They will then hand him over to the Romans for mockery and torture and crucifixion. On the third day he will be raised up alive.”
At Easter, two billion people will mark the fact that Jesus was killed, but on the third day – Easter Sunday – they will celebrate that he was as good as his word and was raised to life.
Since then people have staked their lives in this young man: they have devoted their entire lives to his cause and millions have been martyred. Almost daily, you can see on your TV screens thousands fleeing persecution because they have chosen to believe in the one who was raised from death, the one who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”.
Here, your neighbours and family will include people who are committed followers of the carpenter from Nazareth.
Why not try a visit to Church this Easter and meet this young man who said to his friends I Know How To Die? Believe me, it’s no Fantasy and I’m convinced you’ll live a more fulfilled life In The Long Run.