Easter people in a Good Friday world

Rev'd Heather
Sunday, April 12, 2020 - 9:30am

Easter Sermon – Easter people in a Good Friday world

Easter people in a Good Friday world. It was the title of the Churches Together Britain and Ireland Lent Course that I took part in back in 2006. A Lent course that focused on violence and our response to it. It was very topical, it was at a time when our troops were serving in Iraq. This year, it is not so much war, as the coronavirus pandemic, that has left us feeling as though we are living in a Good Friday world. A world of suffering where we face isolation, and a world where behind all the numbers given in the media are the stories of individuals and their families. Of lives being cut short by Covid-19, of people unable to be with their loved ones in their final hours, of grief being lived out so painfully in isolation. 

Today into this Good Friday world, Jesus has risen! And that has deep resonances with that first Easter Day. Firstly confusion. We are confused because our lives have changed so much at the moment. That first Easter there was confusion because Jesus’ body was gone. Missing. Mary does not know where Jesus’ body has gone. Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple take a look in the tomb - concur and disappear again. Mary, Simon Peter, the Beloved Disciple are all confused. 

Our second resonance with the story is isolation. It certainly feels very strange to be spending this Holy Week and Easter unable to physically meet up with the Christian community here at St Mary’s. That first Easter appearance was one of isolation: Mary in the Garden alone; and the disciples each heading to where they were staying. 

And in the midst of confusion and isolation Jesus shows up. Firstly to Mary. Mary becomes the first witness to the resurrection and Jesus gives her an important message to take back to the disciples.  So take heart - we too may be feeling confused and isolated at this time, puzzled by all that is going on in the world. But Jesus can and does turn up in the midst of confusion and isolation – and brings the most extraordinary messages of hope. 

That first Easter brings amazing hope which continues to be revealed in the days, weeks, years ahead - for as the story unfolds, as Jesus appears again, as the disciples and early Christians wrestle with what this all means, we come to discover the significance of Jesus’ rising again – of his breaking down the barriers of sin - of all that could separate us from God’s love. As those wonderful words in Romans, spoken sometime later, remind us:  ‘I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39) 

Almost 2000 years later – and we are here – listening to the story of that first Easer once again, in confusing and isolating times, and continuing to discover and rediscover the hope that God offers us through the resurrection – that nothing, not even death, can separate us from God’s love – and consequently all are united through God’s love. 

Wherever we are today, we know that we are united with one another, with loved ones past and present, and with Jesus, through that first Easter – through Jesus’ resurrection, through Jesus’ love. And one day – in the hopefully not too distant future, those of us worshipping in isolation today will be reunited again in person, when we will be sure to celebrate in style…