The President of the British Methodist Conference has issued a Easter Message for Holy Week, focusing on a positive understanding of 'passion'.
In her message, the Rev Alison Tomlin reminds people what it means, in a scarred world, to walk with Jesus through the period of his suffering and death.
The full text is as follows:
"Passion – have you ever wondered why the Sunday before Palm Sunday is called Passion Sunday? For me, ‘passion’ is a positive word. I am passionate about justice and peace; I am passionate about the needs of the people I love as well as the needs of our world.
"But for those of us who choose to walk with Jesus through his Passion it is about pain and agony, accepted and received without the active reaction that the word passion suggests, as well as about God’s passionate love for humanity. We need to begin to recognise that God’s Living Word became ‘passive’ in order to pay the price that evil always demands.
"So I invite you to resist the temptation to rush through Good Friday and Holy Saturday; to celebrate with laughter and feasting the joy of resurrection before you have stood at the Cross and the graveside with the first disciples. Wherever and however it is right for you, take time to experience the sense of hopelessness and despair and grief they knew. For some of you, currently in the depth of personal grief and loss, that may produce an immediate understanding – or even make your own sorrow feel worse. For others it will feel very different.
"However painful it is we need to be there. For God’s sake and our own, we need to recognise the pain and cost of Easter before we celebrate. The God who invites us home into his love was prepared to face death and the grave and hell for us. So I do indeed wish you all Resurrection Joy in the daily presence of the God who loves you that much. And I pray that, whatever you know of happiness or sorrow at this time, you will be sustained by God’s compassion and mercy."
The Methodist Church is one of the largest Christian churches in Britain, with nearly 241,000 members and regular contact with over 550,000 people. It has 5,237 churches across the country, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million.