On Sunday, Christians around the world celebrated Easter, the resurrection of Christ. They thronged houses of worship to mark the event. Rwandans did too as they have done for over a century now.
As they celebrate this landmark event in the life of Christianity, they also look to the second coming of Christ when he will come to pick the righteous and take them with him to heaven and eternal joy, and throw the sinful into hell and eternal damnation.
These two, the resurrection and the second coming, one already past and the other yet to come, form the twin pillars of hope and promise of deliverance on which Christianity is built.
Nearly sixty years ago, an English novelist and poet had different thoughts on another coming of Christ. In an irreverent poem, Kingsley Amis, wrote an invitation to Christ to come back and stay a little longer and see how the world is really like.
It reads in part like this:
“Should you revisit us/ stay a little longer/and get to know the place/ Experience hunger/madness, disease and war.
“You heard about them, true/the last time you came here/ It is different having them.....”
Irreverent thoughts, you might agree, but not altogether unreasonable. Suppose Christ actually accepted the invitation and made another visit before the final one, what would he find?
He would find slaughter of human beings on a scale never imagined before. He would come across bullies without a conscience who threaten the very existence of the world his father created. True, they existed even on his last visit, but this time they are more dangerous, what with weapons of mass destruction, war machines with an unimaginable reach and power to devastate, and a lot of money to spend on a project of destruction.
Enough to break his heart and make him wonder whether the sacrifice he made was in vain.
But, of course, these are only the thoughts of a human being. He is God, after all, and knows all these things, even before they happen.
For instance, he will already know what happened here in Rwanda around Easter time twenty three years ago. He will have seen the mass slaughter of more than a million of his creation by hordes of people who profess to be his followers.
He will have seen houses dedicated to his worship turned into extermination centres, this sometimes supervised by those consecrated to be his ministers. He will have seen a country, once dedicated to him as king of the universe, completely devastated.
It must all have tugged at his divine heart known for its infinite compassion. He might even have wept. He did so before, many centuries ago.
Twenty three years later, the pain might be a little less and a smile will perhaps have come to his lips.
Yes, we lost more than a million people and many of them were Christians, and included innocent children like those killed when he was being hunted by a king fearful for his crown.
Many could have lost their faith and left the church. Indeed some did. But others somehow kept their faith and even had it renewed.
We nearly lost a country too. But that did not happen. It resurrected and lives again and has been growing rather well since.
One time divisions are closing. The wounds are healing. The reconciliation taking place would make him proud. Even his vicar on earth has joined in this effort and sought forgiveness for the sins of his flock.
I am sure he would find the courage and resilience of Rwandans, and their incredible show of humanity in the face of unimaginable barbarity reassuring.
All this is a good message to the world.
In other places, Christ might find ugly situations of a different sort.
Money changers in the church still exist. They are not the crude type ne sent fleeing in disarray the last time. These are more sophisticated and do it in his name. They promise their followers a place in God’s kingdom if they give them all they have. The unsuspecting people believe them and give generously.
The modern day money changers grab it all and live a life of obscene opulence. This time whipping them and driving them out of the temple might not be enough. He might banish them into some animals as he once did with a bunch of awful demons. Only this time pigs won’t do because some people are rather fond of them and are partial to their flesh.
He would also find the church he founded has been wracked by terrible scandals. He would, however, be comforted that despite heavy buffeting, it has held together. That would comfort him a little.
In general he would find the world a messy place but with enough decent people to save it from his father’s famous wrath and destruction. He will probably conclude that his sacrifice was not altogether in vain.