Easter Sermon 2012

[Video to follow]

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting encounter.

It was a strange business really. It was with someone who had come from Edinburgh to Glasgow for a morning meeting and I was due to see him for lunch afterwards.

Now, meetings in Glasgow with people from Edinburgh are unusual. Up until that day I had thought that the trains were only in existence to take people from Glasgow to meetings in Edinburgh – that being the general expectation of the population on that side of the country.

No-one seems to have told them that the trains run both ways.

Anyway, this friend of mine did make it through the glass barrier between our two great cities and arrived in Glasgow and went to his morning meeting. Afterwards I met him for lunch.

I could see that he was slightly troubled. His eyes were wide. His face incredulous.

“What is this place?” he asked.

And I said, “Why, what’s up?”

“They talk to you… all the time… even at the bus-stop!”

And it’s true and one of the things I love about Glasgow – whatever street you are on, my business is your business, and yours mine.

Now here we gather. Here in Glasgow. Here in St Mary’s.

And perhaps you are wondering – What is this place?

What is this place and what people are these who sing out their defiant message of resurrection on Easter morn? And what is their news?

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, And He shall reign for ever and ever.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For maybe you don’t understand this news. Maybe you don’t know what the fuss is about.

Maybe you think you are just here for the music. Well magnificent though it is, we are here for something much more glorious.

Maybe you are just here because you like the church bedecked with flowers and looking so gorgeous. Well lovely though it is, we are here to proclaim something even more beautiful.

Maybe you are just here because you want to cheer up your Easter morning. Well God bless you, but we’ve a message which will cheer up any morning and which makes us sing it out with joy the whole year around.

It is the news that Jesus Christ is risen from the grave. the news that love, joy health and peace conquer death. The news that in God’s world (and the place we are in really is God’s world), death will never have the last word.

Oh, we have our sorrows. Oh, we know that grief is real.

But here in this place I proclaim that the power of Christ beats all that, hands down.

Our God has won the victory. Death has no sting.

For the Lord our God omnipotent reigneth.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

What is this place? Who are these people? What is the news?

This place is the place where we proclaim sins forgiven, debts put aside, fresh starts for the penitent, deep human healing for the weary and hope, glorious hope for tomorrow.

It is the place where we look the world in the eye and know that where there is sadness, things get better. Where there is injustice, things get better. Where there is death, even where there is death, things get better and death never wins out in the end.

I remember once speaking to a pious though troubled person at a time of great sadness in her life. She had an unhealthy, unhappy and, I thought, downright creepy interest in the devil and in demons. She had recently lost her husband and said rather mournfully to me, “Sometimes Kelvin, sometimes the devil wins.”

And deep down inside me I could feel something stir. Deep down inside me I could feel rebellion let loose. Deep down inside me I could hear the Hallelujah Chorus.

And I looked her straight in the eye and said, “No.” Not in the Christian faith and not in the world redeemed by Christ. Not here in this place nor in any other. Death never wins the game. And that’s the news on Easter Day and on our darkest days too.

Death doesn’t triumph. The grave is empty.

Sadness, depression and woe won’t win. The Lord is risen from the grave.

And that means a world won back for Love and a world in which God has embedded hope for a better tomorrow.

Hope for the child caught up in a war zone and unable to learn and thrive and grow. Glimpses of the resurrection inspire people to make peace.

Hope for the worker denied the chance to work by politics which preaching austerity to the many whilst favouring corporate greed. Glimpses of the resurrection must challenge us to change the whole world-order.

Hope for those caught in poverty traps this whole world over . Hope that people will eventually see the world through the resurrection lenses that are God’s vision of a world fit to live in.

Hope for the gay kid cut off from connection with God because he reads day by day of churches which proclaim hate and intolerance. I see glimpses of the resurrection as we reach out and say, look kid, God loves you and delights in you and you’ve got so much God given potential in you and oh, oh it gets so much better than you could ever imagine.

You know, young people these days too often have been fed the lie that the church is little more than bigot bishops and cruel cardinals. I tell you this – the church needs to be born again and find a new way of telling the world of the open, inclusive, welcoming arms of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

For the church to be renewed in that way would be a miracle. But if Christ has been risen from the dead, that miracle isn’t just conjecture and possibility. It is, with God’s grace, a certainty.

What is this place? None other than the gate of heaven.

Who are these people? God’s beloved ones, free from all that binds them.

What is the news? That Christ is risen from the dead.

We are Easter people and our Song is Hallelujah!

For if Christ is not risen from the dead, we would not be gathered here.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Hallelujah! Amen.

Comments

  1. fr dougal says:

    Excellent!

  2. Steven says:

    I don’t get it. The Christian endeavour seems so bound up in bizarre and exclusive metaphysical claims that it is very difficult to grasp hold of the universal, perennial truth of faith, hope and love. Yes, God is Love. But for me the experiences that I have had in Ireland of Christianity have been like panning for gold in a barren land. I sit by the river day by day and I never get a glimpse of the true gold of faith as you have described in your Easter sermon. Where I live I feel it is more faithful to let go of the Christian “faith” in order to be faithful to the message of its founder.

    Perplexed,

    Steven

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