Easter Sunday Sermon
By The Reverend Charles Royden
Today is Easter Day
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in his Easter message, makes the point that Easter is not nearly so popular as Christmas for those who do not make a habit of going to church. At Christmas there is lots of preparation and fun and then the big happy day arrives. At Easter we spend Holy Week thinking of the passion of Jesus. The time before Easter is spent dwelling on the torment of Jesus, the anguish in the garden, the betrayal and his arrest.
So we think about our complicity in all kinds of ways in the corruption of the world and the behaviour of humankind, which brought about his death.
By the time we come to Easter the rejoicing has come with a cost. We are happy that Jesus is risen but we are mindful of our own participation in the sins which brought about his death. Have we each not felt at times
- the cowardice of Peter
- the jealousy of Judas
- the weakness of Pilate
- the ambition of the Jewish leaders
Have we not all seen parts of ourselves reflected in the Easter story? By the time we reach Easter Day are we not mindful that Christ was crucified for us?
On the first Easter the disciples also felt that guilt and shame. They had deserted Jesus, they had failed to live up to even their own poor expectation of themselves, let alone managed to impress the Lord they had followed. So it was that Easter was born out of human failure.
Yet, in the midst of the deepest mourning and regret, the disciples found the hope that they needed to go on. Make no mistake, there was nothing which could raise them from their brokenness other than the real presence of Christ.
This resurrection of Jesus causes problems for many. It is offensive to the intellect, it challenges our normal experience, miracles do not happen. But of course miracles do happen. The resurrection is a challenge to my intellect, but so is my daily Christian living. I am quite unable to explain to you how I see Christ at work in the lives of so many Christian people but I do. With the eyes of faith we know God at work in our lives in all sorts of ways.
behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and open the door I will come in'
Christians often talk about how they have in their lives opened the door to Jesus and have experienced his risen life in their own. That is a miracle and there are Christians everywhere who speak of how Christ is alive,
- not that he was alive
- not that he died and then became alive
- but that Christ is alive today in their lives
That is offensive to our intellect, and yet we know it to be really true.
Faith opens doors. And as we open the door of our hearts and lives to Jesus, we experience his risen life and our lives are changed by his risen presence.
I say 'as we open' because this is not a one off event
We have been remembering through Lent the importance of continually
allowing God space to be present with us
in the decisions,
the choices and
the lifestyles which we follow
This is what Easter is about for us
We recognise our failures and weaknesses, the behaviours which brought death to Jesus Christ on the cross. However we understand that Easter is about resurrection from that death - it is about responding to the call of the living Christ and changing to share that risen life.
to listen to his voice
to follow him in our life journey
to be willing to be the kinds of people he calls us to be
to be changed and live meaningful lives.
Easter is about not knowing where Christ may lead us but being willing to trust in his call.
So Easter is for all of us a process, not a one off event. We continually are raised with Christ to new life.
May we all open our hearts and minds afresh to the risen Christ this Easter, may we lead where he would have us go and discover in our lives the joy of his resurrection.