simple white fading png image

notre dame montreal


Easter Sermon

Sermon for Easter Morning The Reverend Canon Charles Royden 

Winston Churchill made a speech after the Dunkirk Evacuation in World War11. France had fallen and Britain faced possible invasion. Churchill called it our ‘darkest hour.’ Darkness was symbolic of the threat of evil to triumph and overcome good. There is something within each one of us which says that this is wrong, good must overcome evil.

When we saw the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral each one of us mourned the destruction of that sacred place and all that it symbolised across the world, especially to Christians. Happening at Easter it was a terrible tragedy, but the pictures of that golden cross which survived the fire became for Christians all around the world hugely symbolic of all that we believe that evil must not be allowed to triumph. Out of that terrible fire came stories of heroism and courage, the rescue of priceless works of art and sacred relics. Even news of the safety of the bees which most of us did not even know lived on the roof.

This morning we look at the resurrection story from John. John begins his Gospel by telling
us that Jesus was God, and he was the

‘light of all humankind, a light which shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it'

In the history of God’s dealings with humankind the crucifixion represented what Churchill would have described as the darkest hour. It seemed that all was lost. How could there come anything positive out of the bloodthirsty murder of Jesus?

It was at that darkest hour that we read of a woman,
a strong woman,
a courageous woman
a woman who refused to desert Jesus in spite of all that raged against her in that a hostile world,
a woman who refused to give up her love for Jesus.
That woman is Mary Magdalene.

John’s Gospel tells us that when the other disciples fled and abandoned Jesus, Mary Magdalene stood by him at the cross. In that darkest moment of Jesus life, when Jesus hung on the cross to die and when he spoke those desperate words ‘My God why have you forsaken me’
at that time he would have known that Mary was there at the foot of the cross.

But John tells us that was not all, not only was she at the foot of the cross, refusing to be intimidated by the crowd who mocked Jesus or by the soldiers who so cruelly tortured him to death.
John tells us in the reading this morning that early in the morning Mary Magdalene went with other women to the tomb.
She went to the tomb even though it seemed a futile thing to do, she had not deserted Jesus even when all seemed lost
She went to the tomb when the evidence said that Jesus was dead. She knew that the power of Rome and the hatred and jealousy of the Jewish leaders had crushed the hope of love.

Some folks find Easter a bit difficult. There is all this talk of resurrection and Alleluia’s
everywhere! But many find faith difficult. If you find Easter at all difficult then there is a message here for you from John’s Gospel from Mary Magdalene.

You see John in his Gospel tells us that when Mary made that early morning trip to the tomb of Jesus, Mary did that when it was dark.
In our Lent series we have been looking at how Paul’s letter were carefully constructed. The Gospels are just the same, they are very thoughtfully and carefully arranged.
When John says it was ‘dark’ he is choosing his words very carefully. It was dark. That is a statement not just about the time of the day but it is about keeping the faith in difficult times.
When Judas went of to betray Jesus, Johns tells us - he went out and it was night. Judas is the one who chooses the path of darkness

Remember where we started with those opening words from John. Jesus was
‘light of all humankind, a light which shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it'

John is saying that whereas Judas choose the path of darkness, Mary choose the path of light and she did so when all hope was lost, she believed in her heart that Jesus was dead, and yet she remained loyal to Jesus. She kept the faith in Jesus, Judas sold Jesus for money

It was in that darkest hour that Mary came through the darkness, having witnessed the hatred, the violence. She went faithfully to the tomb with all of her disappointments and grief, with a broken heart.
She didn’t know that Jesus was alive. She was just doing what love does. Caring for her beloved, her Saviour, her friend, in his time of death, to give him the last rites of burial.

And when she got to the tomb she discovered that Jesus was alive, and in the silence of the night, in the moments of despair, in the moments of the worst darkness, she understood that God had done something incredible.

Secretly and quietly when nobody was looking goodness had triumphed over evil.
Evil was conquered and death defeated.
Through the cross God releases power into the darkened world
Through God forgiveness and healing is released to our broken world
God breaks the bonds of death as Jesus is raised from the dead.

This Easter resurrection begins in darkness and so this Easter, may you know the presence of God with you and may the Christ who brings life, light, and hope, lighten your darkness with his risen life.