The French Resurrection

Our hearts go out to the people of Brussels following Tuesday’s tragic events. The links with Paris are all too obvious; not just the linked individuals involved in bringing terror to these two capital cities, but also the suffering and bereavement brought upon these two innocent, peace-loving populations.

So soon after the tragedy – it was only five days ago, it is difficult to imagine how change may come or indeed whether there is any hope for the future. Yet the human spirit will always rise to the challenge. As Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying, “We must never, never, never give up!” A great example of perseverance in the midst of destruction is the small French port of St. Malo in Brittany.

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Place Vauban, St. Malo

St Malo is a gem on Brittany’s northern Emerald Coast; a historic fortress town with wide, sandy beaches below its medieval walls. It was occupied by the German army in WWII. Following the D-Day invasion, Hitler refused to allow the occupying force of just 70 German soldiers to surrender. The resulting Allied bombing and artillery brought the town to its knees – literally! Over three-quarters of the tall, granite buildings were destroyed, yet the town was painstakingly rebuilt, and today is a testament to the vision and skills of Raymond Cornon and his team of architects.

Par US Army — Cropped from FileSaint-Malo Bombings 1.jpg, Domaine public, httpscommons.wikimedia.1024px-Bombardement_du_Grand_Bé_par_des_B-24_Liberators_de_la_8th_Air_Force_américaine_en_août_1944
B24 of 8th US Air Force over St. Malo. (Public domain)

A town, however, is more than a collection of houses and streets. It is made up of families and friends, lives and livelihoods. The restoration of St Malo was an amazing achievement, and today is well worth a visit, but how wonderful to see the life return, the bustling market, the busy streets, the smiles on the faces. The joy of the citizens of St Malo in the video below contrasts sharply with the utter destruction of WWII. Life can never be totally extinguished; a point echoed by Archbishop Justin Welby earlier today, when he said,  “Easter proclaims to us in flesh and blood that fear and death and terror are not the last words.”

Today is, of course, Easter Sunday, when we celebrate someone who’s resurrection changed the world for the better, guaranteeing new life to all who will receive his gift of forgiveness and freedom. As Bob Gass wrote in his latest post, “His resurrection guarantees yours.”

For two excellent blog posts on St Malo, check out:

St-Malo, France: Then and Now ~ January 30, 2016 by Julie H. Ferguson

Poets, Pancakes and Pirates ~ 25 March, 2010 by Caroline Johnson

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From death to life

Outside the empty tomb

Today we remember the culmination of a battle won, we celebrate a great victory. It’s a victory that has changed the course of history and dramatically altered the quality of life of millions on this planet, yet strangely is understood by so few.

Almost two thousand years ago, and documented by a variety of historians of the time, Jesus died on a Roman cross outside the walls of Jerusalem; but His death was planned before the world began. In fact He said that He came to give His life as a ransom. It was to be a divine exchange: Jesus’ perfection sacrificed for our guilt, that we may go free, forgiven, accepted and cleansed for all eternity.

Death is a formidable enemy. It is something that none of us can avoid, but it was helpless against Jesus. Yes, He succumbed to death, but that was His choice. It could not hold Him, as hundreds of witnesses at the time could testify (1 Corinthians 15:6). He rose from the dead, even keeping an appointment in Galilee that He made before His death (Matthew 26:32; John 21).

Throughout His time on earth, He frequently spoke about life; not just humdrum, everyday life, but a new quality of life that continues into eternity, and that is on offer to all who will put their trust in Him. John, one of His closest followers, records His words: “I came to give life with joy and abundance.” “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” “Whoever trusts in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life.” “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

However, Jesus didn’t just talk about it, He fought the battle with death and came out the victor, and because of what He did two thousand years ago, we have the opportunity today to receive that free gift of life, life in all its fulness, life for all eternity.

To find out more, check out: Time to Change.