Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
The Lord be with you!
Every year on this morning the Church joyfully resounds with these words: Alleluia Christ is Risen!
These words are said as if they are being said for the first time. To be honest each year they are being said, for the first time because they are said with a renewed understanding of God and His Son Jesus Christ and the Cross and Resurrection and a new understanding of ourselves.
All this comes from our journey through Lent and Holy Week and as we have prepared our hearts for today. The Day of Resurrection!
I wonder what expectations you have of this Resurrected Life. Is it an expectation of a return to normality, I love our Anglican Traditions but something that has always worried me is that in so many ways, we come to today and in a way breathe a sign of relief and say – its done for another year – LENT Holy Week – wow intense, now its back to normal. Ordinary time is the expression that we use. My friends the Resurrection life is anything but ordinary! Jesus raised from the dead is anything but ordinary! The empty Tomb is anything but ordinary! This year we approach today from a very different context and perhaps that newness that uncertainty that unusualness is a wake-up call for us all. For many, as we prepared for Easter we looked to today and said, “ its OK, we will be in lockdown nobody will be at church but we will be saying those words like a welcome back see you soon! The extended lockdown robbed us of that delusion…. – now it’s like saying “Yes, Christ has risen and the Church is alive but you’re still stuck at home – the impact of the resurrection is on hold, watch this space for further developments. But my dear friends this is the resurrected life. What you are experiencing today is the gift of God. Not the challenges but the ability to overcome them -the gift of resurrected life, forgiveness of sins and new life in Jesus Christ. You don’t need anything to be different, you don’t need the lockdown to be over, you don’t need your job back you don’t need a cure and a vaccine for Covid -19 – why – because your salvation, your resurrected life is not dependant on any of those things. Believe it or not you don’t even need a normal church service on Resurrection Sunday to receive the Resurrected life that Jesus offers. It is Mark who records the women’s conversation as they were going to the tomb Mark 16: 3 and they were saying to one another “Who will roll away the stone for us…”
My friends there will be thousands of sermons preached today on all sorts of aspects of the resurrection, but I want to share this one thing with you. We are all asking this question!
Who will ,how will the stone be rolled away?
How will I overcome the impact of COVID 19? How will I deal with the financial implications? How will we integrate back into society? How will we deal with the change? How will we deal with two more weeks of Lockdown? How will we deal with the school work that we have lost out on? How will we make up for the contracts that we have lost, the work that we have lost, and the stock market value that we have lost and the psychological impact of this Pandemic and the lockdown?
Who will roll the stone away?
Meditating on the story of the women in the passion Narrative has been a very meaningful journey for me this Easter. What struck me is how they stuck around. How they saw it through – women have an amazing ability to face life. Men are to busy trying to fix it, trying to influence the story and roll the stone away themselves. But Mary and Mary and the other women never try to dictate what should happen, they don’t seek power for themselves they don’t seek to change the story, they just watch and listen and learn and weep and hold on and let go and come back dutifully and ask who will roll the stone away?
We live in a world were getting results is seen as our priority. Doing it for ourselves is seen as our priority. This pandemic has taught us a life lesson – if you want to fix the world… get out of God’s way, you can’t heal it, you can’t fix it, you can weep for it, pray for it, lament for it and trust God to heal it, trust God to roll the stone away!
Too often we place ourselves at the centre of the story. How does this impact on me, how will I deal with it, what should I do! This year again, I learned in the Easter story to wait on God. To sit at his feet and not have the right answers, the cleverly worked out path the tradition, the rehearsed, the normal. I learned a whole lot of new things this Easter: I can’t say I mastered a whole lot of new things I still have to learn how to use all these platforms properly, but I learned that God opens doors where we can’t even see them. Not just this Easter but all my life….I’ve experienced the women’s experience as I walked along and realised that in my effort to do what was my duty to do, I didn’t know how I was going to overcome the obstacles… Everyday I’ve been asking “Who will roll the stone away?” every day, I see the empty tomb, every day I see that God is not where I thought I’d find him and he’s not doing what I expected. The Resurrected life is a life of opportunity a life where God has rolled the stone away. And we don’t yet know what the future holds! We look at the tomb of the resurrection and it is empty, we look at what lies ahead and we cannot imagine what it will be like, we know that Jesus is alive but where is he, in this reality that we find ourselves. Scripture guides us into the next step.
Matthew 28: 7 Go quickly tell his disciples that he is risen ;
Mark 16: 7 Go and tell his disciples;
Luke 24: 9 Returning they told all these things to the eleven;
John 20 :17 go to my brothers and say to them.
And they did –The women told them and they, having heard, went and sought out Jesus and these same people who had abandoned Jesus, who had denied Jesus, who had doubted Jesus, became a formidable force for the Kingdom. One thing I am sure of is that God is at work in our lives and that he has one desire and that is the salvation of your soul. One thing I am sure of is that Jesus leads us through death to life, through struggle to victory. Today is the beginning of a new season and as we journey though the resurrection appearances of Jesus, we will see that the Scriptures reveal a pattern of God’s work in us. Easter is the beginning of a chapter for us. Today we stand at the empty tomb. We go inside and we see and are convinced that Christ is risen we have the linen cloth, we have Mary’s testimony of seeing the risen Lord! Therefore, let us not slip back into complacency or doubt. Christ is Risen the grave is empty he is not there. He is in you! And Through our relationship with Him and with our relationship in Him. We have this life to live! A resurrected LIFE TO LIVE! The angel said to Mary Mark 16: 7 – But go and tell his disciples and Peter that he s going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him just as he told you! I believe this with all my heart that Jesus is ahead of us and he will lead us and guide us and empower us and sustain us in whatever lies ahead. Choose faith not fear and live the resurrected life that God has given you! Amen.