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Sermon for Easter Sunday

 
 

 

Why is it the bad news that we remember? We say to one another, where were you when Kennedy was shot? When you heard Diana had died? Where were you on 9/11? Bad news sticks. But today, on Easter Day, how about a question about Good News.

Where were you when the wall came down, the Berlin wall that divided East from West?

I was 17 when the it fell, ordinary people tearing down the divide, and my Dad was so excited, that he decided we had be part of it, so, packing our hammers we traveled to Berlin and joined in. I had a chunk of the wall in my room for years afterwards.

And where were you the day Nelson Mandela walked out of jail, after 27 years imprisonment, after countless lives had been lost in the struggle to end apartheid?

I was in South Africa that year - teaching in a school in one of the poor rural areas set aside for the black population, and the sense of joy and hope from his release was electrifying.

Both of these great moments marked me deeply - Good News moments when walls and barriers fell and freedom, opportunity and new life poured into the world and into the lives of millions of ordinary people.

Bad news sticks in our memory. Good news transforms us.

 

And today we remember the greatest transformation of all. We remember the ultimate in Good News. The greatest day of freedom, opportunity and new life ever witnessed. The resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the moment when the barrier between life and death, the wall between heaven and earth, between this life and the next, came crashing down for all time.

Death, violence, hatred, evil., these powers that hold the world enslaved, have been defeated. Life, peace, love and goodness, are now in charge.

Because 2,000 years ago a man whose heart had stopped beating, and through whose veins blood had stopped flowing, sat up and breathed again.  And that doesn’t happen. We know that dead people stay dead, and so did the first witnesses. Dead people simply dont come alive again - and yet, that’s what the gospels tell us happened; that’s what those early Christians witnessed; and that’s what Christians in every generation have declared. Its what 2 billion Christians, in every corner of the world proclaim on Easter Day. One day, in a graveyard outside Jerusalem, a man who had died, a man who came from God and was God, came alive again.

 

So what does that mean for our lives?

Not that all the suffering is over, because it isn’t. But that the gates of heaven are thrown open, that the life that is to come, is now flowing into this life.

Because Heaven isn’t a place somewhere off beyond the clouds, the place that God lives, far away and distant. Heaven is what things are like whenever they are the way that God wants them to be. Thats true all the time and in every way in heaven ‘out there’, but its true here too, whenever things are the way God wants them to be.

Resurrection has flung wide the gates of heaven, and God’s love, justice, freedom, grace, mercy, forgiveness and presence are pouring out to us here on earth. Like a great wave of love, God’s presence washes over His beautiful, battered world.

And that presence is available to you, whatever is going in your life.

Whatever is dead in your life, whatever you have buried away because it’s too painful to look at, that shameful thing you did, the feelings you carry that are just too much for you - heaven is reaching out to you saying -  Do not be afraid, you’re forgiven, start again. I am with you.’

That burden you are carrying which is breaking your back, in those moments when the hope of a better future has all gone and you’re left with nothing to hold on to - Jesus is there for you saying - I am alive, I have defeated even death, I can hold on to hope for you. Be courageous. Let me walk with you.

And you, you who are grieving the death of a loved one, or who are facing up to your own death - God’s arms are spread wide. To you He says - The gates of heaven are open, there is a room prepared in the heavenly home, and all are welcome to knock on the door. If you knock, I will open it to you

And for those of you who are longing for a deeper life, for something more than the same old, same old, and who yearn to live with more meaning. To you the Holy Spirit says - There’s work to be done. Partner with me and we’ll work together for a better world - for a world that’s more like heaven.

And for all of us here this morning, Easter Day says - there is a place prepared for you, when your time comes. All we need to do is to knock on the door of God’s heart and to say, I believe (even if we have to add, ‘help my unbelief’ in the next sentence). This life is not all there is. The Universe is much bigger than just the stuff that we can touch and taste and see. After our life here, the resurrection opens a way to a new life. Resurrection isn’t only for Jesus, he just did it first. Now it’s available for us all. There is life to come, there is life after life.

 

I know the pain isn’t over. I know that alongside the moments of great freedom and transformation, in the world, and in our own lives, suffering continues. Of course I do.  I know the suffering that many of you carry in your lives.

But I know too that Easter means that suffering and pain and death are not the end. That they will not have the final word. They are real and the pain is real, yes, but resurrection is more real. Love is more real. Forgiveness is more real. I know that life, abundant life with God, is our ultimate and deepest reality.

 

I know that Jesus Christ has flung wide the gates of heaven, and there is life after life.

I know that Jesus Christ has flung wide the gates of heaven, and all God’s goodness is pouring out to us here today.

 

Jesus Christ is risen; Love has won.

Heaven is open.

This is the Good News. Say yes to it, and let God transform you. 

 

Posted: 18-04-2017 at 12:29
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