I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to plant a sunflower seed and to grow a sunflower – it’s the kind of thing that’s often done in primary schools where children have a competition to see who has grown the tallest flower and bring photographs in of the evidence to show to their teacher and class-mates.

Well if you have ever planted a sunflower seed you will know that the best way is to plant the seed into a small pot; and that when the sunflower seed is first put into the pot, it is pretty small and vulnerable. You cover it over with soil and when you look at it, there is, at first, nothing to see at all – just a pot with some soil in it. It looks, to all intents and purposes, as if it is dead – as if there is no life at all.

However, of course, those scientists among you will know that although the pot looks pretty life-less to begin with; underneath, at the bottom of the soil, there is a lot going on. The seed is not dead – it is actually be very much alive – changing and growing – slowly, gradually, almost invisibly – life is coming forth; and, eventually, a tiny stem emerges – still small, still fragile, still vulnerable – but new life nonetheless.

As the seed continues to grow; so the stem grows taller and stronger; and eventually the seed and its shoots are moved from the pot and planted into the ground; and after some considerable amount of time, the seed and the stem eventually become a sunflower – a flower that can become so big that, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the tallest sunflower ever grown reached 9.17 metres – grown in 2014 by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Germany!

So, from the small pot – a pot appearing to contain nothing more than soil; a pot where everything seems barren and dead; new life, new hope emerges.

Once the seed has become a sunflower; it contains in its centre, lots of new seeds which often are blown to the ground, or carried and then dropped by birds, or are planted by us, and these seeds grow yet more sunflowers.  Thus begins the cycle of death and re-birth – death and re-birth – again and again and again; and of course, this cycle isn’t limited to sunflowers alone – it is to be found with all plants, flowers and trees…

Now in some parts of the Christian Church, when people speak about Jesus’ cross – the cross on which he was crucified, they call it The Tree of Life; and they do this because in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection – the story of Good Friday and Easter Day – Christians believe that the pattern of death and re-birth is being played out on a huge, incredible, cosmic level…

Jesus’ pain and suffering and death on the cross, reveal for Christians, a God who enters into human pain and suffering and death; and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, reveals a God who can bring new life and new joy – even from beyond the grave. What this means for Christians is that there is always hope; hope, that no matter how horrible and painful and tragic life can be at times, pain, and sickness, and suffering and even death are not the end – they will never, ever, have the final say. In the cross and resurrection of Jesus, Christians believe that we see a God who is right there with us – right there in the suffering and the pain; but also a God who can raise us up out of that suffering; raise us up out of the pain; and can bring us new life, new hope, a new future…


The God who raised Jesus from the dead, is for me, personally as a Christian, the same God who is at work in my life, in the lives of the people I love, in the lives of you all, in the life of the world – and the resurrection and new life which God can bring is, I believe, offered to each one of us as a hope for the future and the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.

So whatever you do this holiday, may I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Holy Week and Easter; and may Christ, who out of defeat brings new hope and a new future, fill you with his new life.

Revd. Helen Duckett

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