This was written for one of my church’s magazines in April, 2016, as we celebrated the festival of Easter.
There is a famous story told about an important communist official from 1930s Soviet Russia. Nikolai Bukharin had helped to lead the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and became not only the editor of the famous Soviet newspaper Pravda but also a member the governing Politburo. Around Easter one year, he travelled to Kiev in Ukraine, where he addressed a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd, he derided Christianity, hurling insults, arguments and proof against this “opium of the people”. An hour later he was finished. He looked out at what seemed to be the pitiful remnants of his audience’s faith. “Are there any questions?” Bukharin demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium but then one man, an Orthodox priest, stood up and mounted the platform, standing near the communist leader. He surveyed the crowd, first to the left then to the right. Finally, he shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church: “CHRIST IS RISEN!”. En masse the crowd arose as one and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder: “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”.
The story of Easter is the story of the triumph of truth over lies. Those who put Jesus on the cross thought that they could silence him forever. They thought that their grip on power, their lies and their wealth were invincible, and that they could swat this insignificant little man from Galilee like a fly. His ‘inconvenient truth’ would disappear forever. Years later, Bukharin and the Soviet authorities thought exactly the same: that they could destroy the truth of Christianity with propaganda, prisons and firing squads. Yet, the story above – and the resurgence of Christianity across the former communist world – teaches us that the Easter narrative is no myth. God’s truth, God’s love and God’s compassion will always triumph over evil and falsehood, even if it requires the ultimate sacrifice so to do.
As we struggle with the news on our televisions, with all the challenges of daily life, let us cling to that certainty of the eventual triumph of Christ and his Kingdom. The despair of Good Friday will always give way to the glory of Easter Sunday. God be praised!
Image: ‘The Resurrection of Jesus Christ’ – Piero della Francesca. Source: Wikimedia. Public domain.