Little Philip was born with Down’s syndrome according to the Leadership Magazine. Yet he liked to attend his Sunday School class with other eight-year-old boys and girls.
Sadly, however and typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences.
Nevertheless, because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group; though it has to be said possibly not completely.
Not that is until that Sunday.
For on Easter Sunday, the teacher brought in a load of cheap plastic egg cups. Each child received one of these cups plus a round paper cover like a stone. They were then told to go outside into that lovely spring day and find some symbol for new life. This was to be put it in the bowl of the container before covering it with the lid.
Once this was done, they were all to reassemble in the church hall where they would share their finds by uncovering the cups individually in surprise fashion.
Well after running about the church grounds in wild confusion, the kids returned to the hall and placed the containers on the table. Then surrounded by eager breathless faces, the teacher began to uncover them one by one.
As each cup revealed its treasure, whether a flower, butterfly or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh. That was true even for the slug that emerged from one.
Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, “That’s stupid. That’s not fair. Somebody didn’t do what they were told.
” Philip spoke up, “That’s mine.”
“Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” a fellow classmate retorted.
“There’s nothing there!”
I did so do it,” Philip insisted. “I did do it right. It’s empty because the tomb was empty!” Silence followed. From then on Philip became a full member of the class.
Sadly, he died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral that class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar but not with flowers. Instead they, each in turn, lay down an empty egg cup.
Little Philip reminds us that the Easter message is not complicated. Instead it is very simple.
What is that message?
Dr. George Sweeting tells of an incident in the early 1920s when Communist leader Nikolai Bukharin was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address an anti-God rally. For an hour he abused and ridiculed the Christian faith until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. He gave powerfully logical arguments why we shouldn’t have faith in God. He rationalised persuasively against trusting Jesus for life beyond life.
Then questions were invited. An Orthodox Church priest rose and asked to speak. He turned, faced the people, and gave the Easter greeting, “He is risen!” Instantly the assembly rose to its feet and the reply came back loud and clear, “He is risen indeed!”
Here then is the simple Easter message for today and tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow. Here is the simple message best seen simply. Here is the divine foolishness that surmounts all human wisdom. And it is – Christ is risen,
Christ has risen and Christ is risen indeed! – and so, in our emptiness, shall we – shall we indeed!