Sermon for Easter Day 2022

 Isaiah 65:17-25  • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24  • Acts 10:34-43  • John 20:1-18

Alleluia Christ is risen, 
He is Risen indeed Alleluia!!

For the last two weeks, Anna and I have had the joy of family staying and although it’s of course wonderful to have Andrew and Tracey with us, it’s really our granddaughter Alanna that’s the focus of attention for all of us.

Those of you who’ve ever spent time in the company of very young children will know what I mean when I say that they’ve an amazing sense of wonder. Everything’s so interesting, even things that might seem rather trivial or mundane to us.

Unfortunately we live in a world that doesn’t really promote or encourage wonder. When we were children like Alanna, we were in a constant state of wonder. The world was new and exciting and full of possibility. We lived each exciting day touching, cuddling, looking, tasting and trying out. Words or trying to make them were wondrous. Getting about by crawling or shuffling or taking first tentative steps were wondrous. Touch, taste and sound were all wonders to be noticed and attended to. We lived in a wondrous world.

But gradually we lost our sense of wonder, it kind of got squeezed out. So when it comes to the mystery of the Resurrection we no longer have the tools to deal with it. 

Eugene Peterson in his book “Living the Resurrection” writes:

It’s not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to one another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.

Eugene Peterson “Living the Resurrection

When we’re young, it’s easy to believe in the supernatural, the mysterious, the enchanted. But as we grow older, we learn to be more ‘rational’ and we grow in a misplaced confidence that reality is merely what we can see and understand. Even as Christians who believe in the Resurrection, we live as if miracles, awe, wonder and magic no longer have any place in our world.

There’s a point in the Easter Vigil when after recalling the history of the people of Israel, we suddenly switch the lights on and announce – Alleluia Christ is Risen and the congregation responds – He is Risen indeed Alleluia!! If this ritual gives the impression that the Resurrection is a sudden change from despair to joy, then maybe we need to think again. That’s not how it was for Mary in the Garden, for the disciples on the road to Emmaus or those gathered in the upper room, or indeed those who fished all night and caught nothing. These four instances are captured in our Eucharistic prayer today:

In the first light of Easter
glory broke from the tomb
and changed the women’s sorrow into joy.

From the Garden the mystery dawned
that he whom they had loved and lost
is with us now in every place for ever.

Making himself known in the breaking of the bread,
speaking peace to the fearful disciples,
welcoming weary fishers on the shore,
he renewed the promise of his presence

SEC Eucharistic Prayer for the Easter Season

In all of these cases “the mystery dawned”, a slow realisation as to what had happened. Jesus, the man who had been with them for a while had been put to death on a cross and they had witnessed it. So of course encountering Him again took some time to sink in.

Whoever you are, whatever your situation, however you feel, Jesus is risen. When people are suffering, in pain, sadness or despair well-meaning friends may tell them that Jesus is close to them because he suffered in His Passion and on the Cross. That’s of course true true, but looking to the Cross only takes you so far, you need to look beyond it to the Empty Tomb as well, and to the appearances to some of those that he knew – in short to the fuller mystery of the Resurrection. 

In the Resurrection, Christ isn’t dead, but is risen: risen to give you and me life, risen to give you and me hope, and risen to make you and me part of the new creation that he’s building and will complete at the end of time. Now exactly what that all means, I can’t fully understand, it’s a mystery that I catch occasional glimpses of from time to time when least expect it, but the point is it’s a mystery that I can wonder at every time it comes around in the Church year and in fact every time I take part in the Eucharist.

It’s in the holy mystery of the Eucharist that we share in the embodied life of the Risen Christ and it’s because we belong to this new world, that we can conquer death, that we’re able to live not just for ourselves but for others in love. The love that Christ showed us, in everything he taught and every thing he did. And it’s because of love that we celebrate the Cross at Easter.

We’ve all lived through a difficult year. We’ve faced considerable disruption to our lives and challenge to the way that we interact with each other. In fact this last couple of weeks is the first time in her life that Alanna has visited us, her first time in Scotland, her first time in the Highlands, in fact her first time for so many things and they’re of course all so wondrous. Perhaps we should all try to reclaim some wonder in our lives, wonder in the mundane and the ordinary and wonder in the Mystery of God’s Creation and God’s love.

Resurrection gives us the ability to be present – to live, not just forever, but for now – to “have life and have it abundantly”.

Alleluia Christ is Risen, 
He is Risen indeed Alleluia!!

Amen.

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