MESSAGE: Easter Day 17 April 2022
The scriptures point to the best news of the Christian year: through the resurrection of Christ, we too shall live!
Considering this news, we are called to live fully and deeply, and we are called to proclaim our joy from the rooftops.
This is a day of singing with passion, celebrating with enthusiasm, and sharing God’s goodness with all people.
In Acts 10, we are reminded that we are witnesses to God’s forgiveness and acceptance every time we eat and drink with the risen Christ.
As his friends around the table, we are to testify as Jesus did, telling the good news of peace while doing good and offering life and healing in his name.
Providing an opportunity in worship for people to share their own experiences of “resurrection” gives flesh to Mary’s words, “I have seen the Lord!”
Christ is Risen! Once again we proclaim the awesome mystery of our faith!
This year, we get to explore the resurrection event through the eyes of the writer of Luke’s Gospel.
What is amazing about this account, is that the first witnesses are women (who could not testify in a law court) and two insignificant disciples (one of whom is not even named).
Only after this, does Jesus appear to his inner circle!
All Peter gets at first, is the enigmatic evidence of an empty tomb.
Once again, as with most of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is making the last first and the first last – and this is an important feature of this resurrection account.
When we keep the resurrection in the past – making it only a historical event, and arguing about the facts and details – we keep its transforming power at bay.
It’s easy to say “Jesus is risen” without it having any impact on our lives, even if we are wholly convinced of this truth.
But, when we allow our hearts to be captivated by resurrection life – the all-embracing, empowering, inclusive, transforming life that transcends all evil and unjust forces that divide and oppress humanity – then we don’t only say “Jesus is risen”, we live it!
I wonder whether Peter, James, and John were upset that they were so late in witnessing the resurrection.
Luke tells us that when the women shared the news, they considered it to be nonsense and wouldn’t believe it.
When Peter ran to check their story, all he saw was the empty tomb, and he came away wondering what had happened.
Then, when the two disciples from the Emmaus road returned the three main apostles must have started wonderingwhy they had been left out.
But, this way of appearing to people is characteristic of Jesus, and aligns with the way he had lived throughout his ministry.
It was always the marginalised, unimportant, and outcast that Jesus welcomed and included.
The clear statement here is that there is nothing that we can do or achieve in order to receive Jesus’ resurrection life.
Jesus appears at his initiative to whomever he chooses, and his life is available to all.
It’s a pity, then, that so many of us who claim to believe in Jesus’ resurrection believe that God’s life is limited to those who jump through certain doctrinal or behavioural hoops.
It’s a pity that we so often convince ourselves that the resurrection can only happen according to our beliefs or expectations, and only to those with whom we agree.
In so many ways, we have responded as Peter and the others did – questioning and doubting those who joyously proclaim God’s resurrection life.
Imagine how many outbreaks of resurrection we may have missed this way!
Today, try to let go of your expectations and assumptions and look for signs of resurrection in unexpected places and people.
It takes humility and an open heart to recognise God’s life when it appears in surprising ways. But, without this openness, we never really experience the fullness of resurrection, and we become incapable of sharing God’s life with others. Today, allow the practice of praise to humble you and open your heart to God’s limitless life.
For your resurrection which cannot be contained even by death, Jesus, I give you praise
In the next fifty days of the Easter season we will be exploring what it means to live now as people of the resurrection – not just people who declare that Jesus was risen in the past.