Are you ready for journey to the afterlife?
Rev Gareth Burke, Stranmillis Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Belfast
For many, the Easter school holidays have arrived. For teachers, this has been a long term, and they will be delighted that the Easter break has finally come.
Many people will seize the opportunity at Easter to get away for a few days.
Perhaps you are heading off today to the caravan in Portrush or your tent in Newcastle. If you are, I hope you get a spell of good weather and are able to wind down and get the batteries recharged.
Mind you, there's a moment before we head away on any break when we wonder, 'Is it worth it?' There's a lot of packing up, locking up and sorting out that has to be done before we're ready to jump in the car.
I have to confess that I hate with a passion the whole packing business. To be honest, I don't myself do a great deal of it, but I just feel stressed out by it.
'Is the weather going to be wet or dry?'; 'Do you need your heavy coat or your light rain jacket?' - these are tricky questions. But isn't it just a great feeling when the bags are packed, the cases are closed and you're ready to go?
Now Paul - the Apostle who we meet in the Bible - he talks about having his bags packed.
He isn't going on his holidays, but he is going on a journey. He says, "The time of my departure is at hand". It's a rich expression that could be loosely translated as 'my bags are packed, I'm ready to go'.
But where was he going? He was, in fact, going to Heaven. He was aware that his life on earth was drawing to a close and that soon he would die.
He was confident that he was ready for death and that he would enter into Heaven.
Many years previously, while travelling along the road to Damascus, he had met with the living Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He had turned from his sin and had trusted in Jesus as his Saviour and Lord.
From that moment on, his bags were packed and he was ready to go. Now, that's something, isn't it? Not just to be ready for a week in Portstewart or a fortnight in Portugal, but having your bags packed, ready for Heaven.